ROSEMONT, ILL. — The Green Plumbing & Mechanical Code Supplement produced by the Intl. Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials is well on its way to becoming a mature code. Although the GPMS, designed as an overlay or reach code for the Uniform Plumbing Code and Uniform Mechanical Code is just in its second edition, it is increasingly being adopted, cited or allowed as a parallel path to compliance.
In his acceptance speech after winning the Mechanical Contractors Association of America’s highest award this past March, Bill Erickson, chairman of C.J. Erickson Plumbing Co., Alsip, Ill., and chairman of the IAPMO Green Technical Committee, said he realized that when the GPMS was first published in 2010 that the work was just beginning, not ending.
That was in evidence when the GTC met in suburban Chicago this past April with an agenda covering products such as water softeners, kitchen exhaust hoods and alternative water sources. The committee plans to address bottle filling stations, an increasingly popular adjunct to water coolers, especially on college campuses. Coincidentally, at around the same time that the GTC was meeting, students at Loyola University in Chicago voted to phase out sales of bottled water in favor personal refillable water bottles.
The GPMS is being adopted in various forms, reported Dave Viola, IAPMO director of special services. Lincoln, Neb., has adopted the plumbing portion of the Supplement for its code. California has this under consideration for their next code cycle, and IAPMO is in discussions with the California Energy Commission and Building Standards Commission. California is planning to adopt the 2012 Uniform Plumbing Code along with provisions from the GPMS.
Rob Zimmerman, manager - Engineering, Water Conservation, and Sustainability at Kohler Co., asked Viola what it meant that Lincoln, Neb., had adopted the GPMS as “reference material.” Viola explained that means the Supplement is a path of compliance, so if a contractor or engineer wants to design a rainwater system, for example, he can follow either the regular plumbing code or the GPMS and the system would be in compliance either way.
Hot water expert Gary Klein, Affiliated International Management, Rancho Cordova, Calif., noted that he has been working with California Energy Commission on hot water system performance, and asked if the GPMS section on hot water distribution had been accepted into CalGreen. No, Viola said, but CalGreen staff is working to merge CalGreen into the UPC, the Uniform Mechanical Code and the GPMS.
Engineer Bill Hoffman, H.W. Hoffman & Associates, Austin, Texas, reported that he is meeting with Texas officials who are developing rainwater and graywater codes for the state to get them to adopt or reference the relevant sections of the 2012 Supplement. He promised to keep the panel up to date.
The area of alternative water sources, including rainwater and graywater, is fertile ground for the Green Technical Committee that will probably be plowed for years to come. E.W. “Bob” Boulware, Design-Aire Engineering, Indianapolis, the president of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association, noted that research across the country shows that water tables are falling and land is actually settling. England and Canada are revising their standards so that the plumber is responsible for all water on the site, not just inside the building.
“We have to recognize that groundwater recharge is one way we can deal with water that we collect on the site,” Viola said.
Pete DeMarco, IAPMO director of special programs, pointed out that a lot of water infrastructure in place inhibits re-use. “We have to look at this as a universe of issues,” DeMarco said. “We have a water infrastructure that needs so much improvement, how do we prioritize this and create a roadmap?”
Echoing DeMarco, Ed Saltzberg, Edward Saltzberg & Associates, Van Nuys, Calif., representing the American Society of Plumbing Engineers, noted that combined sewer overflows that mix stormwater and sewage put the kibosh on water reuse.
“We’re getting into an area that’s bigger than what we can do today, and it ties in with landscape irrigation,” Hoffman said. “This is a big and necessary topic … We need to start a discussion before we leave. Let’s set up an information group that can put together a Technical Committee to tackle this.”
Viola announced that the Uniform Solar Energy Code will be expanded to address geothermal systems and all facets of hydronics, because geothermal and solar are great green opportunities. The revised document it slated to be published in 2015. Tom Meyer, director of technical programs at the National Environmental Balancing Bureau, will chair the TC. The document will be an addition to, not a replacement for the hydronics provisions of the Uniform Mechanical Code. Panel members had numerous questions about scope — especially the inclusion of steam — but Meyer said the document would only cover hot water at this point.
John Koeller, Koeller & Co., Yorba Linda, Calif., told the committee that he had created a side-by-side comparison of water efficiency provisions of various green codes, standards and programs, including the GPMS, California’s CalGreen, the International Code Council’s International Green Construction Code, ASHRAE Standards 189.1 and S191P, and ICC700-2008 that was developed in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders.
Koeller pointed out that the comparison was not an official document but that it could be read on his website at http://www.map-testing.com/info/menu/green-building.html. The link to the PDF may be found under “Specific Water Efficiency Provisions.”
Koeller said that he’s been doing this for couple years for his own benefit and that it’s difficult reading the convoluted language in some of these documents. He welcomed revisions and suggestions. Viola asked the committee members if the list includes categories that should be included in the GPMS and noted that commercial kitchen and bar sink faucets are not addressed. Car washes are also not addressed.
Viola wondered what the divergent technical justifications were for limiting commercial kitchen faucets in CalGreen to 1.8-GPM and in the IgCC to 2.2-GPM.
“In some of the documents you can really see that they were so vague that you wonder, ‘what in the world were they thinking?’ when they did this,” Koeller commented.
The next edition of the Green Supplement will be published in 2014 and its provisions will undoubtedly find their way into the 2015 UPC and UMC.