As the global climate continues to change and the world experiences more extreme weather, demand for climate-related retrofitting such as air conditioning (AC) installation, heating/heat pumps, and renewable energy systems is set to rise, driving demand for copper. In fact, global demand for copper in climate-based commercial building retrofitting is forecast to grow from 40KT in 2020 to 160KT by 2035, nearly a 10 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) according to research conducted by the Building Services Research and Information Association (BRSIA) and commissioned by the International Copper Association (ICA).
Because copper can facilitate the efficient delivery of electricity and cooling, it remains the preferred material for heat exchangers, wiring and motors and an essential component for climate retrofitting. AC (75KT Cu in 2035) and Heating/Heat Pumps (35KT Cu in 2035) will account for the largest increase in copper demand, with renewables having the highest CAGR (19.7 percent).
In the retrofitting sector, building codes, building standards and voluntary certifications, such as BREEAM in the U.K., play a large role in market growth. LEED, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, similarly recognizes “best in class” building strategies and practices. Other factors include availability of resources for resilience, carbon-reduction policies, income growth in developing countries, and the tradeoff between retrofit vs. new construction.
Regionally, the EU, along with Turkey and Russia, are expected to be the biggest contributors to copper demand (62KT Cu in 2035) through climate-based retrofitting, with the highest CAGR coming in North America (11.4 percent). Both Europe and North America have existing commercial building stock that is set to remain in use for several decades. Therefore, the focus needs to be on measures to reduce the “carbon footprint” of existing buildings while making them more able to face up to climate change.
According to Anette Meyer, Business Manager of BSRIA’s Worldwide Market Intelligence (WMI), “Our research shows that copper has a significant role to play in meeting the demand for climate-based retrofitting in the built environment. As the global climate changes, and demand for climate-based retrofitting rises, our research indicates there is a significant opportunity for the copper industry.”
BSRIA’s research demonstrates that copper continues to be a preferred material in many building construction applications. With the built environment adapting to a changing climate, and as governments across the world introduce green-building regulations, demand for copper’s excellent thermal and electrical conductivity properties will persist.