Copper's Contribution to Sustainable Buildings
Many building products benefit from copper's recycled content, often over 80%, and its durability, which tends to be measured in generations rather than years. Copper's attributes are clearly demonstrated by its contribution to building performance in up to 13 LEED credits across
three performance categories - a number of which are demonstrated by the Case Studies in this series. Finally, its aesthetic qualities ensure designers can achieve their visual aspirations without sacrificing their environmental and cost performance objectives.
What Defines a Sustainable Building?
The site the building occupies, the water and energy that building occupants use, materials used for construction and wastes generated, as
well as any gases or particulates emitted to the atmosphere and inside the building, are all measures of how sustainable a building is.
Epitomized today in Canada by the Canadian Green Building Council's (CaGBC) scheme for rating building performance - Leadership in Energy
& Environmental Design or LEED - buildings that perform better for the environment, occupants and the bottom line are in high demand.
Very directly, copper as a building material, and when used in building components, contributes to several areas of environmental
performance, and most of these contribute to LEED performance areas, through its unique role in systems and technologies that designers
are using to ensure buildings operate more sustainably. These include:
Building rating programs and third-party certifications are raising our expectations for building performance and shifting the market toward a
more sustainable built environment. And as we continue to learn about the positive benefits and negative impacts of our built environment,
the way we measure and communicate performance will change. Already, we have learned that the ideal measure of performance includes assessments of how a material performs across its entire life cycle, not only how it performs in a building or upon building demolition. The international copper industry is updating public data on the copper life cycle as such information is the latest focus of the Canadian Green
Building Council, the European Committee for Standardization, the German Sustainable Building Council, and other bodies leading the
sustainable building movement. Life cycle performance metrics for materials, components and whole buildings are at the heart of the "next generation" of building performance.