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The Case for Copper Piping in Green Building

February 24th, 2010 No comments

Dale PowellBy Dale Powell, Copper Development Association, Project Manager and Piping Applications Specialist

Dale Powell provides information for a wide range of industries regarding copper plumbing, pipefitting and process piping applications.  Prior to joining CDA 15 years ago, he was a UA Pipefitter and Master Plumber as well as an Estimator/Project Manager for a large mechanical contracting firm in Harrisburg, PA.   He received his education at Harrisburg Area Community College, Penn State and the University of Kentucky. 

When specifying materials for a project, contractors have to weigh the issues of affordability versus quality.  Copper costs more than many other materials to start with, but its advantages are significant, especially when you look at them in light of the move toward what most people call “green” building.  A contractor pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification will find lots of benefits to using copper piping. 

Figure 25 SolderingCopper has some phenomenally great characteristics for green building.  To begin with, it’s a 100% recyclable material.  The process for most of our tube and fitting manufacturers involves the use of scrap (roofing, wire, cable, strip plate, bar), which is commonly 99.96% copper.  In fact, about 85-90% of the copper tube put in today is from re-used scrap.  You hardly ever see copper tube or other copper products in a landfill or dump but often see plastic tubing going to the dump.  Another strong case for copper piping is that it’s extremely long-lasting.  You can reliably figure that the piping you put into a building will last longer than the building itself.  There again, the copper remains available and serviceable after many other materials have deteriorated.  It simply gets melted down and re-formed for other uses.  Copper doesn’t burn, so it can be installed in open plenums without adding to the smoke load.  Sun exposure isn’t an issue, either, so you can store the piping anywhere.  If you leave PVC or cross-link polyethylene PEX materials out in the sun, stacked at a building site, for example, they can be adversely affected by the sunlight. 

There are many green building projects throughout the United States, many of them award-winning.  And there will continue to be more and more as contractors understand that specifying copper is one of the smartest, greenest choices you can make.

Categories: Building, environment, Home Tags:

Winter Meeting: Bringing the Antimicrobial Message to Market

February 4th, 2010 No comments
Adam Estelle, guest blogger

Adam Estelle, guest blogger

By Adam Estelle, Copper Development Association, Inc. Project Engineer, Materials Science

Adam Estelle received his bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Arizona.  He joined the CDA in August of 2008 and works primarily on the Public Health Initiative promoting the antimicrobial properties of copper-based metals. 

Of all the exciting opportunities I’ve had with the Copper Development Association (CDA), the Annual Meeting is by far the most intriguing.  Industry giants from across the country gather every December to learn about emerging markets and get the latest news on copper’s role in applications ranging from plumbing to architecture to antimicrobial.  It’s quite inspiring to witness an industry come together as a whole and combine insight and experience to overcome collective challenges.

General 2During December’s meeting, I presented new opportunities brought about by the EPA registration of copper as an antimicrobial and summarized CDA activity in the supply chain.  Ever since the EPA registered copper as an antimicrobial, we’ve been working with members to:

  • strengthen awareness of the antimicrobial effort
  • provide information about the science behind the EPA registration
  • assist with new product development
  • bring copper products to market with health claims

Once product manufacturers understand the science behind the antimicrobial message, and the large socioeconomic burden of healthcare-associated infections, they see the potential for copper touch surfaces used in products like door knobs, work stations, hand rails and IV poles.  CDA then points them to our membership to help find a supplier of antimicrobial copper.  As the process evolves, more and more suppliers will register with the EPA so they can market their products with public health claims.  As stewards of the EPA registration, CDA also helps product manufacturers convey the antimicrobial message accurately and responsibly. 

From scientific studies to marketing support, CDA is proactive throughout every step of the exciting process.  The Winter Meeting was a great opportunity to show our membership how we’re helping the pieces come together.  Since December, we’ve received more and more phone calls and emails from fabricators and manufacturers who want to move to the next level. That’s great news, because it will generate business for CDA members and help foster this young market.