When it comes to ‘green HVAC,’ it doesn’t get more green than copper ductwork. Cobre29 founder and Polar Air Supply owner Jon Bell, with the help of his son, Jeff, is building a network of ‘healthy buildings’ as one of few copper duct producers in the HVAC industry. Beyond the duct’s aesthetics, it is copper’s natural antimicrobial properties that make it a perfect fit for environments where clean air is crucial. Bell keeps the details of his manufacturing process a trade secret, but recently he invited us into his shop space to share and spread the word about the benefits of copper duct.

Exposed copper ductwork in the Polar Air Supply Shop installed by Jon Bell to reduce sick time and improve the indoor air quality of the workspace.

When entering the shop space where Cobre29 copper duct is manufactured in Riviera, Florida, the first thing that catches the eye is the exposed copper ductwork festooned from the ceiling.

Jon Bell, Cobre’s founder and owner of the HVAC manufacturing company, Polar Air Supply, installed the duct to reduce sick time and improve the indoor air quality of the workspace. Although the exposed ductwork “looks beautiful,” Bell says, the company’s goal from the start has been to get its insulated, flexible copper ductwork into hospitals to prevent the spread of disease.

“That’s why we want to sell to commercial spaces like schools, hospitals and labs,” he says.

Cobre29 copper duct is produced with up to 70 percent recycled copper and metal that is 100 percent recyclable, which can increase a building’s LEED points. Because copper is naturally antimicrobial, there will be no need for biocides, which often produce volatile organic compounds (VOC). Although copper duct is no replacement for a fully functioning air filtration system, “The copper ducts will provide an additional line of defense against airborne pathogens and illnesses,” explains Bell.

In addition to its antimicrobial properties, the Cobre29’s flexible copper ductwork can bend around corners while maintaining smooth air flow surfaces, eliminating particle build-up that occurs at the corners of traditional ductwork and increasing air flow efficiency.

“Insulation will be less expensive because of the reduced weight and connectors needed,” explains Jeff Bell, Jon’s son, who serves as vice president of the two companies. “Polar Air Supply provides the insulation and vapor barrier.” The duct uses no elbows, he explains.

“Most rigid systems typically use a 90 degree elbow, even when ductwork is not exposed and there is no aesthetic benefit,” he says. “Our ducts are designed to make turns with a gentle bend that creates 35 percent less friction (static pressure) than a rigid system with a 90 degree elbow,” which will decrease the amount of energy used.

“That’s more air pumping into the room with the same amount of energy,” he adds.

The University of Miami was one of Polar Air’s first converts when it installed Cobre29 copper ductwork into its Lennar Foundation Medical Center. Since the product’s initial launch in 2014, the company now generates about $1 million in business each year from its copper duct.

For more information on Polar Air Supply's copper duct, visit cobre29.com or contact 561-248-2479. 

This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of SNIPS Magazine.