As concern about green construction practices grows and the demand for more eco-friendly and sustainable homes increases, copper is coming to the forefront as a greener environmental choice for home building.
Progressive builders and homeowners are choosing copper for environmental focused projects for a variety of reasons, not the least of which that it can be recycled repeatedly. If you’d like to ensure that your home is eco-friendly from the construction materials to your home décor, copper is a great choice.
The Natural Lifespan of Copper
Copper is an element found in ore deposits around the world. It is proudly produced by an industry that strives to be an environmental steward in the processing and use of copper materials. Copper mills can produce a supply of products including sheeting, wire, and tubing, all without a negative impact on the environment.
As evidenced by the quality condition of ancient copper artifacts and copper roofs from centuries past, it has become clear to the building industry that the lifespan of copper is incredibly long. This is a good selling point for an environmentally conscious consumer, as it outlasts more common, yet less resilient materials such as wood. If maintained properly, copper is good for a lifetime and beyond, which makes it a good, sustainable investment.
Recycling Copper for Environmental Sustainability
Copper is one of the most recyclable building materials in the world. It can be recycled over and over and can be re-used in the same way as the original material. Recycled copper has the same properties as newly produced copper, so the process does not reduce its quality. This makes it just as durable and just as attractive for multiple uses.
Copper mills can use as much as 95% recycled copper in the production of sheeting, wire, and tubing, and can recycle it repeatedly. While many other materials wind up in landfills – synthetic roofing tiles, for example, can take hundreds of years to decompose – copper is simply recycled and reused.
Copper and Energy Efficiency
With its high energy efficiency, electrical, and thermal conductivity ratings, it’s no surprise that copper is an environmental gem. Piping used in heating and air conditioning applications is often made of copper, because it allows the less material to be utilized to direct the same energy, relative to other materials. For instance, small copper tubes can be used in air conditioning, allowing for use of less refrigerant. The size of the tubes also reduces the transfer rate of heat or cooling, so less energy is used in the process.
Copper Maintenance and Environmental Health
Keeping copper clean and in its shiny, new state is one of the simple maintenance steps that will ensure it lasts. Unlike wood, which requires the use of chemical sealants, paint, and stain, copper maintenance can be done with natural, eco-friendly products.
The natural cleaners that are effective on copper might surprise you: a simple paste of vinegar, salt, and flour, or even a bottle of ketchup will remove copper’s natural patina to reveal a shiny, raw surface. The acidity in tomato-based pasta sauce is highly effective at cleaning copper. When environmental health and sustainability are considered, choosing naturally sourced material like copper is a great way to be on your way to a “net green” project.