Chicago — The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials and the World Plumbing Council sponsored the International Emerging Technology Symposium here in mid-August. The event was a forward-glimpsing clearinghouse of ideas and solutions to the world water crisis presented by plumbing industry leaders.
A host of innovators and industry heavyweights gathered in Chicago to present future solutions to today's challenges within the manufacturing, engineering and trade industries as they pertain to water and energy conservation, sanitation and health, renewable energies and the sustainability of the environment. The two-day event presented an often sobering picture of dwindling resources, but offered great promise for the future, carried forward by an industry well prepared to lead the charge toward healing the planet.
“Our hopes and goals in approaching this symposium were to bring together the best and brightest minds in the plumbing industry, the experts in environmentally-conscious plumbing system design, installation and maintenance,” said IAPMO Executive Director Russ Chaney, “but the level of determination and committed involvement we received from this top echelon of the industry was truly remarkable. It far surpassed my greatest expectations.”
The international panel shared ideas and compared experiences based upon differing geographic and economic concerns, bringing to light a world in which one country's or continent's imminent crisis is another's triumph — and how the two can learn from each other.
The list of speakers included Jennifer Mercer, World Health Organization, on “The Role of Plumbing in the Protection of Public Health;” Mary Ann Dickinson, Alliance for Water Efficiency, on the impact of energy embedded in treated water; Tom Meyer, Green Mechanical Council, on “GreenSpeak” and the challenge of making green mainstream; Bill Hoffman, Hoffman & Associates, on alternative on-site sources of water and green building; Glen Pleasance, Region of Durham, Ontario, Canada, the results of his home efficiency study; John Koeller, Alliance for Water Efficiency, and Bill Gauley, Veritec Consulting Inc., on the five most innovative new water savings products available today; E.W. Boulware, Design-Aire Engineering, on sizing and design of rainwater catchment systems; Robert Zimmerman, Kohler Co., on a proposed rating system for high efficiency plumbing fixtures; Roy Sieber, ERG (WaterSense), with five basic research needs to advance the WaterSense specification; and Gary Klein, Affiliated International Management LLC, who laid out a plumbing system on the floor of the room.
“I think while people in the industry believe that water saving is very much on the mind of the U.S. public, I'm not quite sure it is,” said Jeff Patchell, publisher of World Plumbing Review. “Only in the last 18 months in Australia, after more than a decade of trying, the penny has finally dropped; water efficiency is a mandatory thing going forward. I think (America's) tipping point may be two or three years away, but you'll know when it happens. All of a sudden, everything you're doing is almost imploding into one point that unless it's got a water saving aspect to it, you don't even try. I think (the U.S. plumbing) industry has to do everything it can to bring it together and work as one. This symposium has been a great start to that.”
Stephen L. Johnson, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, delivered a keynote address that commended the organizers and participants for taking up the challenge on their own.
“As I look at it, it's one thing for policy makers in Washington, D.C., to talk about the challenges of water quantity and water quality,” Johnson said. “It's a whole different thing to have the leaders of both manufacturers and the actual installers taking hold and wanting to commit to these new technologies — new technologies that are good for the consumer, good for the environment and good for our economy.”
Those who were unable to attend will soon be able to view the entire event online. A series of Webinars archiving the symposium will soon be available for viewing online at www.iapmo.org. In the meantime, interviews with participants, organizers and panelists conducted during the event are available online at www.iapmovideos.com.
Sponsor of the Uniform Codes, IAPMO works with government and industry for safe plumbing and mechanical systems. Additional information is available at www.iapmo.org. The mission of the World Plumbing Council is to safeguard and protect the environment and the health of nations.