GTC rolls into Chicago
The agenda was packed—with some new issues, too
Multiple-head showers, weather-based irrigation controllers, HVAC systems and car washes were but a few of the topics that IAPMO’s Green Technical Committee delved into recently when it met in Chicago to review proposed changes to the 2012 Green Plumbing and Mechanical Code Supplement.
Now in its second edition, the supplement is the nation’s most comprehensive green construction code for plumbing and mechanical applications.
The April 16-17 meeting was the first one for new chairman Ron Rice, who succeeded Bill Erickson. Rice was president of IAPMO’s board of directors when it initially authorized the development of the supplement.
Rice said the debate over how to regulate multiple-head showers was a key topic. While some people feel multiple-head showers will never be regulated in ultra high-end houses where showers are designed to accommodate more than one person at a time, others see it differently.
“Even if you put in low-flow heads, you might put in five or six of them and you’re really defeating the purpose,” Rice said. “So we really struggle with that.”
The meeting also featured a presentation on potential water savings in a new area: car washes.
“That was a new one,” Rice said. “Car washes are getting up to speed. All that water was going down the drains before; now they’re realizing they need to do something to salvage some of that and reuse it.”
Here are some additional highlights from the meeting:
- Submeters. Code provisions for submetering were overhauled. Subsections for submeters were put in a table for easier reference, and provisions were updated and expanded. A provision was added for remote data transfer requirements to collect and analyze water usage data.
- Water Quality. The committee continues to review U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for sampling and water quality. The task group continues to work with the Water Quality Association to recommend water quality thresholds for alternate water sources.
- Water Quality Maintenance for Rainwater Catchment Systems. Water quality maintenance requirements were added for nonpotable rainwater catchment systems. No treatment is required for rainwater used for subsurface or non-sprinkled surface irrigation where the maximum storage volume is less than 360 gallons. Non-potable water shall be tested every 12 months and a record of the test results shall be maintained by the system owner for a period of two (2) years. If the quality of the tested water cannot consistently be maintained at the minimum levels, then the system shall be equipped with an appropriate treatment device meeting applicable NSF/ANSI Standards.
- Weather-based Irrigation Controllers. Weather-based irrigation controllers to suspend irrigation. ET controllers are being phased out and replaced with weather-based controllers. Weather-based controllers are to be listed to the US EPA WaterSense Specification.
- HVAC Systems. Duct sealing and leakage test requirements for HVAC systems are still being reviewed. New provisions for HVAC filtration systems are in continual discussion. Additional standards for system balancing are under review. A new task group is being formed for commercial kitchen ventilation efficiency. The task group will further discuss the requirement for efficiency reports for grease-removal devices in kitchen exhaust systems.
- Food Waste Devices. Revised language for food waste devices was presented to the Green Technical Committee and accepted for inclusion in the GPMCS. The language includes provisions for pulpers and mechanical strainers, food waste grinders, a time-out system with a shutoff, readily removable sink drain outlets, and strainer baskets.
- Maximum Volume of Hot Water. A task group will re-evaluate the maximum volume of hot water allowed in branches, which may overly restrict the use of certain pipe sizes. Some industry kickback assesses current provisions as overly restrictive and recommends increasing the maximum volume.
- Composting toilets. Composting toilets were brought forth as an item for development in the GPMCS. The task group will develop code language to present at the next Green Technical Committee meeting.
- Bottle Filling Stations.A proposal recommended that bottle-filling stations shall be included or used as a substitute to meet the requirements of drinking fountains in at least 50 percent of the requirements for drinking fountains. Less water is wasted during the drinking process – as virtually no water is lost down the drain – unlike traditional drinking fountains, which generate up to 50 percent wastewater into the drainage system. This 50 percent waste in traditional fountains has been documented in calculations in the outdated ARI 1010 standard (which used 60 percent for pre-chilling calculations), and confirmed in product testing. Bottle-filling stations would reduce the amount of waste generated from plastic bottles that are used to provide drinking water.
- Stormwater Management. An ARCSA/IAPMO standard for stormwater management is being developed and a draft outline was presented to the Green Technical Committee. A new subcommittee was formed for stormwater management provisions.
Rice said interest in the supplement’s provisions remains high, as seen by the large cross-section of people from throughout the plumbing and mechanical industry who attended the meeting.
“The supplement is continually growing, maturing, developing and keeping in step with the latest state-of-the-art technology,” he said.
The next Green Technical Committee meeting is scheduled for Aug. 22-23 in Ontario, Calif.