Model Home to Demonstrate Benefits Copper Tube for Gas- and Water-Supply Distribution

January 14, 2000


NEW YORK - The Copper Development Association, in a joint venture with Yankee Gas Co.-Connecticut's largest supplier of natural gas-and Agostino Design/Build, is developing a state-of-the-art distribution system to supply gas for heating equipment and appliances in a Stamford, Connecticut, concept home. The model home, which will meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star standard by using at least 30 percent less energy than typical homes, is designed to demonstrate innovative energy- and cost-saving strategies that require no tradeoffs in quality or comfort.

"One of the secrets to our success," says Mike Agostino, president of Agostino Design/Build, "is that we can build great houses within a relatively small footprint. We try to put the money into quality products and amenities that help enable owners to live well, rather than building on a grand scale. And we try to build-in low maintenance and operating costs into our homes."

The home's energy-efficient design relies on extensive use of natural gas to fuel the central heating unit, water heater, kitchen range, clothes dryer, three fireplaces, a radiant heater in the garage, an outdoor barbecue, outdoor lighting, a convenience outlet for portable gas appliances and an emergency generator. In a departure from the common local construction practice, gas will be distributed throughout the home with flexible copper tubing, rather than black pipe or corrugated stainless steel tube.

Copper tubing will also be used for domestic water distribution, which includes a highly effective filtration system. Copper is biostatic-it does not sustain bacterial growth.

"It's a no-brainer to use copper for water-supply pipes," says Agostino. "When plastic is used for drinking water, you can taste it immediately," the builder adds. "But we're really learning something in working with CDA on the gas-distribution system. I didn't know that copper tube would be so easy to work with and cost effective in that application."

"Copper tubing has been used successfully for gas distribution systems for more than 30 years," says Andrew Kireta Sr., CDA's vice president for tube, pipe and fittings. "And although provisions for copper tube and copper-alloy fittings were written into the National Fuel Gas Code in 1989, many builders and subcontractors aren't aware that it is generally the most economical alternative for natural and LP gas distribution piping." Copper tubing for gas distribution is also treated in ASTM specifications B 837, B 88, and B 280.

Annealed copper tubing is corrosion resistant and sufficiently flexible to be easily routed through confined spaces. Available in straight lengths up to 20 feet and coils up to 100 feet long (and longer by special order), copper tubing requires fewer joints. This makes copper both easier to install and safer for gas distribution systems.

Copper tube can be used for both high and low-pressure gas systems (less than 1/2 pound per square inch). The Connecticut model home is supplied with low-pressure service.

"Copper tubing for gas distribution really meets our criteria for providing quality systems at reduced costs," Mike Agostino declares. "It is much simpler to join than black pipe, much less expensive than CSST and much more reliable than CPVC for water-supply piping."

The model home at 45 Carter Drive, Stamford, Connecticut, will be open for inspection by builders and the general public this spring.