Australia’s top developers are returning to copper for premium projects.

Leading international property and infrastructure group, Lendlease, is using copper tube extensively on major projects with essential hydraulic and mechanical services.

Technical Manager for Fire and Hydraulic Services, Andrew Potts explains why.

Copper on the rise

In general, all of the potable hot and cold water, and natural gas supply risers located within their building cores and plant rooms consist of copper.

Many of the mechanical services pipe work consists of copper up to 150mm diameter for heating and chilled water systems.

The $2.5 billion Melbourne Quarter development under construction in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct will consist of three office towers
and three residential towers.

“Our new Victorian head office will be in one of the new office towers and those buildings will comprise significant amounts of copper tube throughout”, said Mr Potts.

Stringent product evaluations

The most important factor in assessing plumbing products for a project is that they meet Australian Standards and carry WaterMark Certification.

“There are also other factors like connection methods, origin of the raw materials, material thickness, manufacturing procedures, IS09001
accreditation, warranty periods and a strong level of after-sales support”, said Mr Potts.

“We generally specify copper due to its ability to operate at high pressures and its longevity, which ultimately provides assurance of an optimal system design and long service life for our clients”.

Lessons learnt from substitutes

The resurgence of copper tube usage in Australia is also being fuelled by increased adoption of copper press-fittings by plumbers, and it’s not just the improved speed and ease of installation that has helped. The failure of copper substitutes has played a part too.

“There’s been an increase in awareness in the industry, particularly due to the infiltration of a large number of substitute products in the Australian market over time, some of which are inferior and as a result a number of failures have fuelled the transition back to copper”.

Valid and proven warranty

In the building industry, product warranties are key to determining suitable products in complex developments like high-rise buildings that are expected to have a long lifespan.

In the plumbing industry it is not uncommon to find warranties of 25 years on plumbing products, something which copper tube
manufacturers and suppliers have provided for many years.

“Copper tube manufacturer and piping system supplier MM Kembla have an integrated piping system warranty that covers multiple
components of a system,” said Mr Potts.

“Kembla has been specified in a number of Lendlease projects due to their commitment to quality products, integrated piping system warranties and ongoing on-site training and technical support”.

With the increasing supply of imported products into the Australian plumbing market, the role and responsibility of local importers and suppliers in assuring robust quality control mechanisms are in place for all imported product is becoming even more important. A role local manufacturer MM Kembla takes very seriously.