Codes, most efficient products take center stage at WaterSmart Innovations 2011

Oct. 20, 2011
LAS VEGAS — Participants from more than 30 states and nine foreign countries attended the 5th annual WaterSmart Innovations conference, Oct. 5-7, 2011, at the South Point Hotel and Conference Center here.

LAS VEGAS — Participants from more than 30 states and nine foreign countries attended the 5th annual WaterSmart Innovations conference, Oct. 5-7, 2011, at the South Point Hotel and Conference Center here, offering a variety of professional sessions, panel discussions and pre-conference workshops, along with an expo hall showcasing a variety of products and services.

Partners of the conference included the Alliance for Water Efficiency, American Water Works Association, EPA WaterSense, Green Plumbers USA, International Code Council (ICC), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), and many more. Niagara Conservation was a Platinum Sponsor of the event. For a complete list of partners and sponsors go to:

Bill Gauley principal of Veritec Consulting Inc., Mississauga, Ontario, and MaP Maximum Performance, told participants to focus on efficiency, not conservation in the session about emerging technologies that will have the greatest impact on water demands. “Efficiency is about working smarter, not harder,” said Gauley. “There is no sacrifice with efficiency like there is with conservation.”

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According to Gauley, the three basic efficiency options are: reduce, using less water to do the same task while maintaining performance; re-use, using water more than once (graywater); or eliminate, not using water at all (air-cooled) or using a non-potable source (rainwater). Gauley then presented the products that are proven to save water for homeowners.

Those products are: high-efficiency toilets, especially if less than 4.8-L or 1.28-gpf; front-load clothes washers; hot water recirculation systems; and properly tuned irrigation systems.

“There is room for improvement with toilets and clothes washers,” said Gauley. “But these are proven measures … toilets are a no brainer, but washers are a harder sell.”

High-efficiency toilets are not only efficient in the home, they are also efficient in different applications, such as hotels, which John Koeller, principal at Koeller & Company and MaP Maximum Performance, spoke about in the session Water-use Reductions Achieved with Hotel Fixture Replacements.

Koeller said that a 2001 study ranked hotels as the least desirable market segment for toilet replacement, that there was only 16 gallons a day savings. Hotels were ranked behind restaurants, offices, retail, health care, etc.

However, according to Koeller, there were many variables not accounted for in the study.

“You need to look at water consumption of old versus new fixtures, who and how many times they are flushing (guests, housekeeping staff), if there are leaks, and maintenance service calls,” said Koeller.

Koeller pointed out that recent hotel studies have been done, showing that when replacing older fixtures, it was found that leakage is a significant contributor to water consumption in the guestroom; housekeeping uses the toilets as a waste can; and replacing 3.5-gpf and early 1.6-gpf toilets yields significant water savings.

“This is a ripe area,” said Koeller. “When looking into replacing toilets, other elements of lodging operation should also be considered. One should not just look at toilet replacements, but rather the entire operation of the lodging facility, because opportunities for water use reductions exist in most larger facilities that go way beyond just toilets.

“The contractor (or on-site maintenance) doing the replacements should also consider showerheads, faucets and urinals as well as toilets, and in addition, the auditor (a professional engineer or equivalent) should also be looking at the laundry operation, food service operation, and cooling towers,” added Koeller.

Code updates

During the code, policy and rates session, David Viola, director of special services of IAPMO, reviewed basics of the 2010 Green Plumbing and Mechanical Supplement (GPMCS) and mentioned that the next edition will be out February 2012.

At the moment it is currently out for public comment until November 2011, and comments will be discussed during the Dec. 8-9, 2011, GTC meeting. Additional information is available at:

“In the 2010 supplement there are comprehensive provisions addressing the design, installation and maintenance of Alternate Water Source Systems (AWSS) including graywater, rainwater harvesting, reclaimed water, and onsite treated non-potable water, ” said Viola. “The 2012 GPMCS will clarify the scope of on-site treated non-potable water sources along with who will be able to design AWSS systems. We are also taking on landscaping irrigation, focusing on the water conveyance and control portion of the system, which will include irrigation controls to respond to climate or soil conditions, sensors to shut off system during rain events, and system performance requirements.”

The goal of the IAPMO GPMCS is to be at least 20% more efficient than the Uniform Plumbing Code, said Viola.

In a separate session, an introduction to the Intl. Green Construction Code (IgCC) was presented by Shawn Martin, director of industry relations of the ICC Plumbing Mechanical and Fuel Gas Group.

According to Martin, the IgCC is a comprehensive, broad-based code overlay adding sustainability provisions to the existing life, health and safety codes where adopted. It works with base codes, like the International Building Code (IBC), instead of replacing them. Provisions address topics such as energy efficiency and conservation, material resource conservation, indoor environmental quality, site development, land use, greenhouse gas reduction and water conservation and efficiency.

Martin noted, “The second version, known as Public Version 2.0 has already been adopted in numerous locations around the country, and we expect even stronger interest in the 2012 version coming out in the spring.

“The IgCC development effort began in 2009, and as a new code is undergoing three rounds of development,” said Martin. “The final development hearing for the code will occur November 2-6 in Phoenix, where the final round of public comments on code changes will be considered."

There is also a version of the IgCC that contains only water-related provisions: the IgCC Water Efficiency Provisions, available for Public Version 2.0 of the IgCC. This version extracts the water efficiency and conservation provisions verbatim throughout Public Version 2.0, and is available for free download at

“It is ideal for users who wish to rapidly deploy the most advanced water efficiency codes, providing real water savings without giving up flexibility and ease of use,” said Martin. “The IgCC is different from other codes in that some jurisdictions are electing to adopt portions, ala carte, to meet pressing needs. While the code provides the greatest benefit when adopted as a whole, ICC understands that some locales are not yet ready to adopt it in its entirety. Providing the water provisions allows jurisdictions to meet pressing needs immediately without compromising their ability to add on other IgCC provisions seamlessly in the future.”

Key water efficiency points in the IgCC Public Version 2.0 focus on outdoor water efficiency, alternate water sources, uses of non-potable water like flushing, trap priming, cooling towers, fire pumps, etc., protection for devices served by non-potable water, among others. The IgCC includes efficiency provisions for a number of devices not typically addressed in green codes, including drinking fountains, dipper wells, food service faucets, commercial food waste disposers, autoclaves and liquid ring pumps.

Five years of WaterSense

Tara O’Hare of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency WaterSense program, presented accomplishments and updates WaterSense has seen in its first five years in the session Five years of WaterSense: Commercial and Institutional Update.

According to O’Hare, WaterSense is planning to focus on education and outreach for the commercial and institutional sector, and creating WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities, which includes managing indoor and outdoor facility water use, recommending WaterSense labeled products and partners, improving water use in processes and applications and promoting education for employees and customers.

WaterSense labeled products have been third party certified to use about 20% less water while still performing as well as traditional models, and being recognized as a green expert helps both the contractor and the homeowner, as well as the environment, according to the U.S. EPA, and replacing a bathroom's faucet, showerhead, and toilet can save enough water for six months worth of laundry, enough energy to run a refrigerator for two months, and $80 a year in utility bills.

In conjunction with the WaterSmart Conference, the EPA honored a handful of companies with the 2011 WaterSense Partners of the Year award and 2011 WaterSense Excellence award at the WaterSense Awards Banquet co-sponsored with the Alliance for Water Efficiency. The banquet also celebrated the program’s fifth anniversary.

Delta Faucet Company received one of the 2011 Partners of the Year Award and Kohler Co., Moen Inc., and Niagara Conservation Corp. received the WaterSense Excellence Award. For a complete list of award winners, go to:

"This is an incredibly proud moment for us,” said Niagara Conservation Corp. CEO William Cutler. “At Niagara, we’ve always done our best to engineer, manufacture, promote and sell products that conserve water without sacrificing performance. It’s because of this commitment that we wholeheartedly support and believe in the EPA’s WaterSense program and mission.”

About the Author

Candace Roulo

Candace Roulo, senior editor of CONTRACTOR and graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts & Sciences, has 15 years of industry experience in the media and construction industries. She covers a variety of mechanical contracting topics, from sustainable construction practices and policy issues affecting contractors to continuing education for industry professionals and the best business practices that contractors can implement to run successful businesses.      

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