Archive for November, 2009

Architectural Copper on the Healthcare Horizon

November 23rd, 2009 No comments

Craig Thompson - 1Craig Thompson, Copper Development Association

Project Manager & Architectural Applications Specialist

 Craig Thompson is an Illinois-registered architect.  He holds a graduate degree in architecture and, in 1972, began working in construction on residential, commercial and retail projects.  He joined the CDA in 1992, working primarily with architects.  He provides them with information for working with copper, including design assistance and help locating products and installers.

double_iv I think I’m in a good position to assist architects in using copper for their projects, and that’s part of my job.  I have a lot of knowledge, and I enjoy sharing anything and everything I can. 

But one of the most exciting new developments concerning copper in architecture is in healthcare.  CDA is waiting to share with architects the results of the clinical trials, now underway, that compare the bio-load of standard hospital ICU rooms to “copperized” rooms.  Because the antimicrobial property of copper is a relatively new concept to the industry and we just recently got EPA approval, a lot of the products haven’t been mass-produced yet.  In other words, they’re not in catalogs for architects and builders working on healthcare facilities to call for.  And frankly, there will be lag time between when the architects are ready to go and when there’s general availability.  It’s kind of a “chicken and egg” situation.  The folks who make them won’t make a lot if they don’t think they can sell them. But if architects ask for them, they’ll make them.  And that’s coming.  The CDA has member companies that are taking a proactive approach and getting things ready to be marketed as antimicrobial. 

tray_tableIf there’s a down side, it’s the initial cost, which may be higher than standard materials.  But when you look at the big picture, copper is a money-saver.  It’s low-maintenance and won’t have to be replaced often.  It’s also sustainable, because copper and its alloys are easily recycled, and in fact are recycled all the time.  So hopefully soon, copper alloy IV poles, countertops, bedrails, work surfaces and plumbing fixtures will all be mass-produced and widely available. 

And how about public buildings and schools?  Germs are spread there, too.  Imagine the possibilities!

Rising to the Challenge of New Regulations: How One Industry is Adapting

November 17th, 2009 No comments

Jim 2009Jim Michel, Copper Development Association

Manager, Technical Services

Jim Michel is a metallurgist who received his undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri – Rolla (now the Missouri University of Science and Technology) and his master’s in metallurgical engineering from Ohio State University.  He joined the CDA in 2007.  He works with the Technical Services Group, registering new copper alloys, answering technical questions and sharing information across a range of subject areas.

Here’s an example of how social change drives technology.  There’s a movement across the United States to reduce the possibility of lead contamination in drinking water.  For example, the state of California has enacted low-lead requirements that take effect January 1, 2010 for plumbing fittings and fixtures.  Vermont has adopted a similar regulation.  So companies that manufacture faucets, valves, water meters and other plumbing components want to use new copper alloys for their products.

iStock_000003232503XSmall-Kitchen SinkIn order to maintain quality and consistency, each of these new alloys has to be registered with the CDA and given a five-digit UNS (Unified Numbering System) number.  That’s where we in the CDA’s Technical Services Group come in.  Companies proposing to manufacture and sell new copper alloys visit the CDA Web site and fill out a form for review by the Technical Services Advisory Committee.  The most important information in registering a new alloy is providing the chemical composition.  Other properties, like the physical, mechanical and electrical properties, are also important but the primary focus of the committee is chemical composition.  The committee meets in June and December to evaluate proposals and issue the UNS numbers.  All UNS numbers pertaining to copper have the prefix “C” before the digits. 

With faucets and other water-handling pieces of equipment, the plumbing industry is one of the most affected by these new requirements.  Many of our colleagues there worked diligently to have new products with the lower lead compositions into the marketplace on or before Jan 1, 2009.  So they were a full year to a year-and-a-half ahead of time in being responsive to this law.  

But the alloy registration requests continue to come in.  On average the committee has a handful of proposals to review.  But because of this movement to reduce lead exposure, there have been a lot of applications lately, 14 or 15 in June of 2009 alone.  And I expect we’ll continue to have large numbers of proposals coming through for some time.  So you see, when a social change like this movement to reduce the possibility lead exposure occurs, it creates a huge ripple effect as companies develop new technology to help meet the needs of society.

To see the various categories of alloys, visit the Resources section of the CDA Web site.

Copper: The Preferred Architectural Material (Part 2 of 2)

November 11th, 2009 1 comment

By Larry Peters, Copper Development Association Project Manager & Architectural Applications Specialist

Are you part of a building project that used copper in a unique way? I invite you to enter our North American Copper in Architecture Awards, in which the Copper Development Association recognizes the outstanding use of architectural copper and copper alloys in North American building projects.

The submission process for the 2010 awards now is open. Go here for the submission form. We encourage you to join us in celebrating uses of copper that are innovative, functional and beautiful. Because we specialize in copper, we’re so proud of its use that we want to show it to the world.

To enter, your project must be located in the United States or Canada and completed in the last three years. The project must feature a significant application of architectural copper alloys and the copper manufacturer must be located in North America. The deadline to submit your entry is Jan. 31, 2010. To view last year’s winners, click here.


peters imageA 2009 winner, the objective for the Blessings Golf Clubhouse in Fayettville, Ark., was to develop a contemporary structure, unique to the Ozark Mountain region that resists the prevailing historicist precedents most commonly represented as an antebellum home or a hunting lodge. Materials for the building exterior were chosen to provide a timeless palate that will age gracefully with little maintenance. The second-story volume, a multi-textured copper tube in pre-fabricated standing-seam and flush seam copper panels, sets up views primarily to the golf course through large glass-window walls and porches. The copper volume, in shifts and cantilevers, establishes a detached relationship to its stone base.

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Copper: The Preferred Architectural Material (Part 1 of 2)

November 3rd, 2009 No comments

Larry Peters2

By Larry Peters, Copper Development Association Project Manager & Architectural Applications Specialist

Larry Peters, Architectural Applications Specialist, has worked with the Copper Development Association (CDA) for 10 years, consulting on the use of copper sheet metal – roofing, flashing, gutters and wall cladding. He has an engineering background from the US Military Academy (West Point). Larry was an Army officer and has worked in the construction field for the last 15 years. He’s always had a great interest in architecture.

In my opinion, there’s no comparison when it comes to copper. Copper is generally the best metal option and arguably the easiest metal to work with, too.

At the CDA, I’m part of our building construction team. We often deal with the end user, the building designer, contractor or architect. We arrange installation training for sheet metal contractors. Other times we get calls from building owners who need advice. We’ve addressed questions from universities, governments, even an archdiocese. We get calls from homeowners, too. A lot of them are considering copper for a roof or a wall. They’ve heard about using metal wall cladding or they’re thinking about siding and have seen some pictures of buildings with copper walls. They ask us how they can achieve a certain kind of look on a building – and the pluses and minuses. There are a wide range of questions.

ITP, Freeman Sheet MetalWe help them as much as we can. We also have an online Design Handbook that has a lot of information on copper’s properties and uses. It’s the best place to search for answers to sheet copper detailing questions.

Over the past few years, I’ve answered questions from an architectural firm regarding an antebellum house in Alabama. It’s a challenging project because the mansion was constructed over a number of years in phases. There was little regard to the proper function of the roof system. The architect felt more comfortable by requiring the sheet metal contractor have hands on training to help their crew learn traditional copper installation skills.

It’s rewarding to see copper used well in architecture. There’s a beautiful sense of place when you’re around a well-designed, interesting-looking and lasting building that can sustain the elements and continue to do so over time.

Categories: Architecture, Building Tags: