The road to greener and smarter cities is paved with copper
Cities are expanding at an unprecedented rate, with almost 80% of EU citizens now living in one. This rapid development brings with it challenges, and many of the solutions are copper-based technologies.
As centres of economic growth, job creation and innovation, cities come with a range of benefits, but also sustainability issues, from quick resource consumption and overuse to growing waste and pollution. They are responsible for 70–80% of the EU’s total energy consumption and about the same share of CO2 emissions. Half of this driven by buildings alone.
As a durable and sustainable metal with a long service life and full recyclability, copper plays a crucial role in the wiring, plumbing, heating and cooling, lighting and roofing of buildings. When it comes to making them more ‘green’—i.e. with design, construction and operation that minimises negative impacts on the environment, or even offers positive contributions—key components such as energy efficiency and smarter resource usage depend on copper. The greener the building, the more copper is needed.
There are more than 100 copper applications contributing to green and healthy building construction and improving overall environmental performance.
Copper is also a key component in many low-carbon technologies, including electric vehicles, solar thermal, photovoltaics, smart grids and natural refrigerant-based HVAC systems. As such, copper is key to improving energy efficiency, indoor air quality, water quality, and life-cycle costs. Add to that the fact that many copper-containing building products have a high proportion of recycled content—often exceeding 80%—and it is clear copper is a key sustainable building materiasfor constructing the greener and smarter cities of Europe’s future.