The cost of building components, such as copper roofing, flashing, gutters, and downspouts, must be evaluated in the context of their use, performance, maintenance, and service life. Many applications of copper involve uses that are critical in maintaining the integrity of the building envelope. Copper performs these functions economically for a long time. There are many examples of copper roofs that have been in service for many decades; even centuries.
In specific applications, economic criteria vary. For example, in selecting flashing material, the initial material cost may be insignificant compared to the cost of repair if the flashing fails. With a roofing system, the cost of maintenance, which may prevent water damage to the interior, must be considered. Copper components typically offer extremely low maintenance and long life, even in coastal or industrial environments. Copper is therefore an economical material for these and many other applications.
When life cycle costs are evaluated, these factors should be quantified. Initial costs, maintenance costs, and the life expectancy of the systems must be estimated, as should the salvage value of the material. Copper is an inherently recyclable material that retains much of its primary metal cost. This is far greater than competing materials whose scrap values range from about 60% down to zero. The results make copper an outstanding material in terms of life cycle costs.