Keep on Keepin' On...
September 13, 2010
The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials published the first edition of its new Green Plumbing and Mechanical Code Supplement on Feb. 1. Several state, county and municipal adoptions of the GPMCS have already been enacted and more are in the works.
However, as one of my New York Yankee heroes, the great sage Yogi Berra once said, “It gets late early out there.” Those words ring true when considered within the context of a rapidly changing and dynamic water and energy efficiency industry. So, we know we cannot rest on our laurels if we wish to maintain the leadership position the GPMCS has enjoyed to date, therefore work toward the development of the second edition of the GPMCS is already well underway.
The list of issues the GTC will consider as we move forward is exhaustive. In addition to reviewing each chapter to identify where opportunities exist to raise the bar on specific provisions or to address emerging technologies, the GTC and the associated working groups will also apply their skills toward making progress on a number of longer term projects. There are two such projects that I find particularly interesting.
Section 306.0 in the General Regulations chapter of the GPMCS is reserved for the development of Life Cycle Assessment requirements for plumbing and mechanical equipment. For those of you who may not be familiar with LCAs, they are intended to provide guidance to a consumer or product specifier or, in the context of the construction community, a piece of equipment or system, with a cradle-to-grave evaluation of the environmental impact that results from the existence of that product, equipment or system.
Implementing such requirements for plumbing and mechanical products is a daunting task. The more complex a product is, the more difficult it is to arrive at the common metrics needed to incorporate into an LCA. However, it is expected that plumbing and mechanical product manufacturers will be increasingly pressured to develop such metrics and IAPMO intends to provide the open platform needed to take the incremental steps that will surely be required in order to arrive at a solution. Craig Selover of Masco R&D and task group chair Greg Simmons of Charlotte Pipe will share their knowledge to help us move this issue forward.
Section 402.9 in the Water Efficiency and Conservation chapter of the GPMCS is about Water and Drain Pipe Sizing requirements. It is impossible to attend a plumbing code meeting without listening to a passionate debate regarding the need to arrive at new pipe sizing provisions that take the reduced flows from modern plumbing fixtures and appliances into consideration. In 2009, IAPMO established a pipe sizing task group as a sub-committee to investigate and recommend revisions to current water supply pipe sizing methods.
This task group has met via conference call several times during the past two years and we continue gathering information to help us determine if we can make recommendations for size reductions without risking plumbing system performance problems like excessive flow velocity and water hammer due to simultaneous flows or end-user modification to designed flow rates in products that employ removable or easily defeated flow rate control devices.
However, the ongoing development of comprehensive technical provisions is only part of IAPMO’s efforts to elevate the relevance of the GPMCS. In March, IAPMO hired director of government relations Dain Hansen. Having secured an office at 101 Constitution Avenue, IAPMO now has a full time presence in Washington, D.C., and Dain’s efforts in the beltway are complimenting the ongoing technical development of the GPMCS in a big way.
Federal policymakers are greatly encouraged by the GPMCS. Congress is especially interested in moving its federal infrastructure into a “greener” arena. As evidence of this, Rep. Russ Carnahan and Rep. Judy Biggert created a High Performance Building Congressional Caucus with the aim of pursuing better performing and more efficient buildings-within the government-with the hopes of expanding into the private sector. Supporting this caucus is the High Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition, of which IAPMO sits on the executive/steering committee. In this capacity, IAPMO works with and informs members of Congress and federal agencies on ways to be more efficient with our scarce resources, including water-with the GPMCS being a path to achieving the desired results.
While much of the efforts in the HPBCC are focused on Congress and legislation, IAPMO also presents the GPMCS before countless federal agencies, including: the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Commerce and many others. Through various regulatory initiatives, federal agencies look at different ways to achieve reductions in water- and energy use. Most recently, IAPMO testified before the Department of Energy on the GPMCS during a rulemaking hearing encouraging the use of the GPMCS in DOE’s new regulations.