Copper Adds to Sustainable Building Design for This Old House’s New Home Project
05 Oct 2016
When selecting products for the new Idea House, the architect and design team for This Old House wanted to use building materials that were not only eco-friendly and energy-efficient, but also products that were attractive and eye-catching. So when the Copper Development Association (CDA) offered to provide the copper roofing for the porch and contribute to the copper gutters and downspouts, it was an easy choice.
This Old House recently unveiled its 2016 Idea House, the Farmhouse at Emerson Green in Devens, Massachusetts. The home is part of an innovative community, consisting of 124 single-family homes, duplexes and multifamily apartments on a decommissioned Army base just northwest of Boston. Working with NOW Communities, Union Studio Architecture & Community Design and Denise Enright Interior Design, This Old House built the farmhouse with the goal of making net-zero living possible in this mixed-use development.
Using high-quality and low-maintenance building products, the 3-bedroom, 1900-square-foot home will average less than half the energy use for a typical house of its size. Products featured in the house include solar panels that provide approximately half of the home’s energy needs; energy-efficient triple-pane windows and a high-performance hybrid hot water heater; an air-sourced high-efficiency, multi-zone heating and cooling system supplemented with radiant electric heat; smart home automation and security; and durable, long-lasting materials that conserve natural resources and provide lower maintenance such as copper for the porch roof, gutter and downspouts, composite decking and fiberglass entry doors.
Copper is popular not only for its natural beauty, but also for its corrosion-resistance and malleability. Sheet copper is extremely formable—it can be bent and stretched into complex and intricate surfaces without breaking. Copper is available in various sizes and forms, and it can be fabricated for roofing and wall systems in a number of ways: standing seam, batten seam, flat seam, shingles and other imaginative and attractive forms. Through its natural weathering process, the warm bronze tones on the farmhouse can be expected to turn into an elegant, green patina finish over time. This patination process is what protects the underlying copper from corrosion and allows for decades of maintenance- and trouble-free service.
Aside from its ability to last for the lifetime of a home, copper is also one of the world’s most sustainable natural resources, as it is 100-percent recyclable and can be used over and over with no loss of its engineering properties. Systems that rely on copper components are typically more energy efficient than building products made from non-recyclable materials or petrochemical-derived materials, such as various plastics and polymers.
The Farmhouse at Emerson Green will be featured in the October issue of This Old House magazine and showcased online in late September with a style guide, video house tour, online galleries, and tips from the project’s experts on energy efficiency and sustainable design. A segment about the Idea House will also air on This Old House in the fall.