Green Copper House in Hudson Valley


This is a beautiful modern home in Hudson Valley with carefully considered fenestration and use of daylighting.  The 2,590 square-foot home, designed by Andy Bernheimer of Della Valle Bernheimer, was recently featured by GreenSource Magazine as a Best Green House for March 2010.

Features that put the home on the list include skylights, windows to minimize heat gain, FSC certified flooring, radiant floor heating, an efficient boiler, recycled aluminum in the kitchen cabinets, and overall low electricity use from passive solar design.

Discerning observers will note, nonetheless, the location and that the exterior is fully clad (with the exception of the office box jutting out the north side) in copper, a material on the Precautionary List maintained by Perkins + Will.  When used as an exterior material, copper can be toxic to aquatic life and humans.

At the same time, we’ve yet to see the perfect green home as all design and construction decisions seem to involve trade-offs that are hard to examine from the outside.  What do you think?

Della-Valle-Bernheimer-Copper-House-bedroom Della-Valle-Bernheimer-Copper-House-kitchen

Della-Valle-Bernheimer-Copper-House-dining Della-Valle-Bernheimer-Copper-House-stairs


Photo credits: Richard Barnes via GreenSource Magazine.

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  • mike

    p+w’s list includes galvanized steel and stainless steel as alternates. industrialization practices of producing stainless steel have been known to release chromium-0 into ground water – highly toxic and harmful to aquatic life. the embodied energy of stainless steel is 4x+ higher than recycled copper.

    galvanized steel isn’t a permanent solution, it has a high embodied energy and caustic/acid/flux dips are not what we would call environmentally friendly. in marine settings, galvanization also has a shorter lifespan.

    copper is vital for life, is 100% recyclable, has significantly less GWP than stainless steel and embodied energy of recycled copper is half that of recycled galvanized steel.

    there are going to be trade offs. using copper on the facade (which won’t have as much run-off as the roof) is going to have some environmental impacts – but building anything is going to have an environmental impact.

  • bnlaneville

    I love the design, but am leery of the facade choice. Whereas copper has a initially small environmental impact, it holds a longterm impact. Copper is a relatively soft metal and is easily gnawed away at in environs with medium toxicity. Acid rain, bird droppings, smog, household chemicals, animal urine are all very detrimental to copper. I’m not suggesting that any single one of these things with damage the cladding, but the culmination of a couple could prove to be financially and environmentally costly. Think also about the installation process and the machine used to replace the cladding. I would recommend eco-friendly chrome over recycled aluminum or a tantalum based aluminum alloy. is a manufacturer of environmentally friendly chrome.

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