Plumbing code and industry news
By Ron George,CPD,
President, Ron George Design & Consulting Svcs.
Conferences and conventions
Two important industry events are coming up in the coming months. First, the 83rd annual IAPMO Education and Business Conference takes place Sunday, Sept. 23 through Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Fla. Visit www.iapmo.org to learn more.
The following month, from Saturday, Oct. 27 through Wednesday, Oct. 31, the ASPE Convention and Exposition will be held at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C. (The Exposition will be held Oct. 29 and 30.) This is the only industry event designed to showcase innovations in plumbing system design specifically tailored to plumbing engineers, designers, design/build contractors and specification professionals. For details, go to www.ASPE.org.
ASSE donates to ASPE Research Foundation
The American Society of Sanitary Engineering (ASSE) has made a generous donation to the American Society of Plumbing Engineers Research Foundation Inc. (ASPE RF) to help fund the research and study of the growth, accumulation and detachment of biofilm and planktonic bacteria in both electronic and automatic faucets.
The question of whether electronic faucets are more or less sanitary than manual faucets when all other variables are controlled has arisen from a field study conducted by Johns Hopkins Hospital. The ASPE RF, in conjunction with Montana State University Center for Biofilm Engineering (CBE), plans to assess biofilm and opportunistic pathogen growth in both manual and automatic faucets under identical flow conditions, based on realistic use patterns, in a controlled laboratory environment over a four-month period.
The data from these tests will help to develop a timeline of bacterial growth within these faucets and provide empirical data relative to whether the faucet valve plays a significant role in bacterial loading. This data will be essential for the future research of system variables that play a role in biofilm growth and could ultimately lead to empirical-based recommendations for improvements in faucet design and maintenance. If you would like to support or contribute to this research, visit www.aspe.org.
My two cents on the manual versus automatic faucet issue
I am a member of the ASSE product standards committee and the ASSE seal control board, and I applaud the ASSE donation to the ASPE Research Foundation. The Johns Hopkins study raised a lot of eyebrows and caused quite a bit of discussion in the plumbing industry. There were also many discussions with Legionella experts that serve with me on ASHRAE committees that are working on Standard 188 and Guideline 12, which are intended to reduce Legionella bacteria in building water systems. We discussed the code requirement for significantly lower flow rates mandated for infrared or metering type faucets verses manual faucets.
I did a quick calculation based on the following assumptions: The faucets are mandated to have 0.5 gpm per faucet, with a maximum total flow of 0.25 gallons of mixed water per cycle. This equates to a maximum cycle length of about 30 seconds. My experience has been that most faucets do not flow for the maximum allowable flow or volume and that plumbers or facility staff set the timers closer to about 10 seconds or less. I have been in airports and hotels where the faucet timers are set to just spit enough water to wet your hands; I end up doing a version of the “Hokey Pokey” dance, putting my hands “in” and “out” of the fixture to try and get water to wash my hands.
With about 10 seconds, the total mixed flow is probably less than 0.0833 gallons per cycle. When you account for the hot water flow, which is generally about 50 to 75 percent of the mixed water flow rate, the actual flow volume per cycle is about 0.04 gallons per cycle. (This is probably just a few ounces of hot water per cycle.) The resulting poor flow rate does not allow enough hot water into the hot water mains, branches and fixture branches to keep the chlorine levels up.
My experience is that most people will not take the extra time for multiple cycles. If excessively low flow rates are combined with low or diminished use, the chlorine will dissipate over a relatively short time and be ineffective at controlling bacteria levels in branch piping.
This is yet another example of an issue associated with mandating lower flow rates on plumbing systems, in which water conservation proponents are using simple water savings calculations without proper research into the effects on the system. If this is true, the health and safety of the staff and patients are jeopardized by water conservation efforts. As I have said before, health and safety should be more important than water conservation.
2012–2014 International Code Council (ICC) code development schedule
The International Code Council (ICC) family of codes has grown to the point that it has become increasingly more difficult to hold the code change hearings in a two-week block. Holding all of the code hearings in one block, with two consecutive tracks of hearings going on at the same time created a time crunch and a logistical challenge. The code hearings were going until almost midnight and resuming at 7 a.m. to try to keep them on schedule. Keeping to the schedule was especially important because people will often purchase airfare and make hotel reservations to come in and speak on a specific code change.
If controversial issues in the codes caused a lot of testimony, the hearings would slip back, sometimes by more than a day. Code committee volunteers ended up being on the dais for code hearings for several days, sometimes listening to and voting on code changes for more than 16 hours per day. This went on for up to two weeks, requiring ICC staffers to work long hours. It was very stressful for everyone.
A committee was formed to try to streamline the hearings. Time limits were placed on testimony, allowing three minutes for someone to speak on each code change. When a controversial issue came up, there might be dozens of people waiting to speak. The committee suggested breaking the code changes into different code hearing tracks held in different years. Initially, there were two groups with two tracks each; with the introduction of the swimming pool and spa codes and the green codes, the ICC board of directors approved a third group. Each group will have the usual deadlines for submission of code changes, publication of the proposed code changes and code hearings, as well as deadlines for publication of the results of the code hearings, for comments on the results of the code hearings and for final action code hearings at the annual meeting.
The Plumbing and Mechanical codes have been in group A for the past two code cycles. This means that the previous code is barely on the street, and that the ink is still wet in the code books when the code changes for the next three-year cycle are due. This makes it hard to submit code changes in a timely fashion.
I would like to see ICC move the green codes to group A and move the Plumbing, Mechanical and Fuel Gas and Private Sewage Disposal codes to Group C. The Green codes generally do not deal with health and safety issues; they deal with sustainability and energy conservation. I’m sure that most of you would agree that water conservation and energy savings are not as important as the health and safety issues covered in the Plumbing, Mechanical and Fuel Gas codes. This change would provide ample time for use of the code and allow timely submission of code changes that address health and safety issues. The following information shows the breakdown of the codes into the various code groups and information about deadlines for each group of codes.
2012 – ICC Group A codes include: International Building Code (IBC), International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC) International Mechanical Code (IMC), International Plumbing Code (IPC), International Private Sewage Disposal Code (IPSDC)
The ICC Group A code cycle is already under way. Code change proposals were due in January and initial code hearings were held in Dallas in the spring. Final action hearings are scheduled to take place October 24 – 28, 2012, at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Proposed code changes and the public comments to those changes, along with the Final Action Hearings agenda, will be posted on the ICC website by September 10, 2012.
2013 – Group B codes and admin sections of all codes include: International Performance Code (ICCPC), International Existing Building Code (IEBC), International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), International Fire Code (IFC), International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC), International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC), International Residential Code (IRC), International Wildland-Urban Interface Code (IWUIC), International Zoning Code (IZC).
Code changes are due January 3, 2013.
2014 – Group C code: International Green Construction Code (IgCC). Code changes are due in January 2014.
IAPMO – Uniform Plumbing Code news:
UPC and UMC code development timeline for 2015 code cycle
• May 10 – 11, 2012, Technical Committee meetings (via teleconference)
• September 3, 2012, Call for proposals
• September 23 – 27, 2012, IAPMO annual Education and Business Conference
• January 3, 2013, Deadline for submission of proposals
• March 25, 2013, Distribute proposals to committees (ROP monograph)
• April 29 – May 3, 2013, Technical Committee meetings
• May 17, 2013, Initial ballot to Technical Committee
• May 31, 2013, Receipt of initial ballots, circulation of comments
• June 14, 2013, Final closing date for ballots, including receipt of vote changes based on recirculated comments
• August 23, 2013, Distribution of Report on Proposals (ROP)
• September 3, 2013, Call for comments
• September 29 – October 3, 2013, IAPMO annual Education and Business Conference, Assembly Consideration Session
• January 3, 2014, Deadline for submission of comments
• March 24, 2014, Distribute comments to committees (ROC Monograph)
• April 28 – May 2, 2014, Technical Committee meetings
• May 12, 2014, Initial ballots to Technical Committees
• May 19, 2014, Receipt of initial ballots, circulation of comments
• May 30, 2014, Final closing date for ballots, including receipt of vote changes based on re-circulated comments
• August 7, 2014, Distribution of Report on Comments (ROC)
• September 14 –18, 2014, IAPMO Annual Education and Business Conference, Technical Meeting Convention
• September 22, 2014, Ballot of Technical Committees on membership amendments from floor; two-thirds vote of approval required from the Technical Committee
• September 29, 2014, Receipt of initial ballots, recirculate comments to Technical Committee members
• October 6, 2014, Final closing date of ballots and receipt of vote changes based on recirculated comments
• November 12 – 14, 2014 Standards Council meeting
• December 10, 2014, Deadline for notification of intent to file written petition to the board of directors
• January 26, 2015, Board of directors meets to address petitions
On Friday, July 20, 2012, The ASSE board received a presentation by IAPMO CEO Russ Chaney and President Dan Daniels. IAPMO proposes to absorb ASSE into its group of business entities, to be designated the ASSE National Chapter of IAPMO.
The ASSE board and IAPMO representatives participated in a several-hour discussion to explore the idea and its impact on ASSE members, staff and assets. The primary question for the ASSE board is whether such a change would better serve the ASSE mission of “Prevention rather than cure,” protecting the health and safety of the public through better plumbing.
ASSE International President Donald R. Summers Jr. signed a letter of intent from IAPMO on July 20, 2012; now the process of negotiating a legally binding agreement by which the two nonprofit entities will merge is underway. Don Summers notified the ASSE staff of this development on Saturday, July 21, 2012, and via ASSE legal counsel (also in person) at the Westlake office on Monday, July 23, 2012.
The letter of intent is not a legally binding document. Summers said. “You may think of it as a proposal,”he explained. “ASSE is now engaged to join with IAPMO. Continuing the analogy, the marriage license itself has not been signed but is now under negotiations.”
Ron George is president of Plumb-Tech Design and Consulting Services LLC. He has served as chairman of the International Residential Plumbing & Mechanical Code Committee. Visit www.Plumb-TechLLC.com, e-mail Ron@Plumb-TechLLC.com or phone 734/755-1908.