Copper’s Antimicrobial Properties: Design with copper

Copper has long been a material of choice by builders and architects for its durability, longevity, performance, and reliability. For centuries, architectural copper has adorned roofs and wall systems, as well as contributed to various architectural elements on cathedrals, government buildings, and academic facilities across North America.

In addition to its superior esthetics, copper and alloys—such as brass and bronze—is very ductile, making it easy to form, bend, and stretch without breaking. It is because of these qualities that spires, steeples, domes, non-linear roofs and walls, as well as dormers and fascia are created. Copper also requires little maintenance, resulting in fewer repairs or replacements over a building’s operational life.

The material’s resistance to the elements ranks among the highest of modern roofing materials. Copper does not oxidize; instead it forms a natural, protective coating commonly referred to as patina. When properly designed and installed, a copper roof provides an economical, long-term roofing solution.

Copper, in many applications, contributes to achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits by saving energy and reducing a building’s carbon footprint. From extraction to recycling, copper has a minimal impact on energy consumption and natural resources, while its use has an immensely positive impact on energy efficiency, indoor air quality (IAQ), and lifecycle costs. Although not all uses of copper directly apply to LEED credits, all support fundamental objectives to maximize energy efficiency and minimize impact on the environment.

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