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Architectural Copper on the Healthcare Horizon

November 23rd, 2009

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!

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