In Brief

May 1, 2006
During the Mechanical Contractors Association of America's new Strategic Estimating Conference June 4-6 in Cleveland, estimators can learn how soft costs are just as important as hard costs when determining the risks associated with a particular project. As critical risk factors are examined during team-based sessions, estimators will learn how to answer the critical question: Can we make money on

• During the Mechanical Contractors Association of America's new Strategic Estimating Conference June 4-6 in Cleveland, estimators can learn how soft costs are just as important as hard costs when determining the risks associated with a particular project. As critical risk factors are examined during team-based sessions, estimators will learn how to answer the critical question: Can we make money on this project? Early registration is recommended to guarantee a place at this first-time offering. Complete program and registration information is available at www.mcaa.org/education.

The Construction Specifications Institute has started the Construction Taxonomy Project, which it said will result in standards for terminology that will be commonly used throughout the entire lifecycle of buildings in North America in project delivery, operations and management. The project will establish a standard lexicon of terms used in the construction industry with the ultimate goal being the creation of a consensus standard for American English construction terminology. Currently, no such definitive lexicon exists for the construction industry, CSI said.

ASHRAE has proposed that the ventilation rate calculation procedures from ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2004, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, be adopted into the International Mechanical Code published by the International Code Council. The current ventilation criteria in the IMC are based on ASHRAE Standard 62-1989. This code change would make the IMC consistent with the standard and the 2006 Uniform Mechanical Code.

• The latest classroom challenges, instructional techniques, technology updates and product innovations were discussed by the more than 270 people attending the April 5-7 HVACR and Plumbing Instructor Workshop in Lansdowne, Va. The first of its kind, the event included an opening reception with tabletop exhibits, breakout sessions, hands-on technical roundtables, and complimentary Industry Competency Exam, the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society and North American Technician Excellence exams for instructors. The event was cosponsored by Airconditioning & Refrigeration Institute, Air Conditioning Contractors of America, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Educational Foundation and RSES.

• The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials is celebrating its 80th anniversary. It continues today in the same task it set itself in 1926: To protect public health and safety through the development of uniform plumbing codes. It continues to publish Official, the organization's magazine, as well as an online newsletter, I-Connection, to keep its members informed of the latest events in the organization and the industry.

Milwaukee firefighter

leads by example


MILWAUKEE — How appropriate that a firefighter would build a house with residential sprinklers. What's more, the sprinklers allowed firefighter Casey Kerwin to build his dream house by getting around a couple code restrictions.

He's building on a narrow city lot here and the sprinklers allow the house to be built closer to the lot lines. Fire sprinklers also eliminated the need for a second stairwell, which would have added cost and reduced living space.

With plans to build a 4,000-sq.-ft. home for him, his wife and their new baby, Kerwin realized that a residential fire-protection system would provide an ideal solution to local code restrictions, while also addressing a personal concern for his family's safety.

Given the home's tall and narrow design to accommodate existing structures on either side, Milwaukee fire codes mandate either a second staircase or the installation of a residential fire protection system.

"Adding another stairwell

would have subtracted significant space in the home," said Jane Kerwin of Jane Kerwin Homes. (Jane is Casey Kerwin's mother.) "As such, a residential fire protection system became the natural choice, and would also provide the elevated level

of protection the homeowner himself was seeking."

Plumbing contractor Bayview Plumbing, a licensed installer of both plumbing and domestic fire-protection systems in the state of Wisconsin, and distributor Rundle Spence, were approached for the project and recommended a residential fire-protection system.

"To us the choice was obvious," said Matt Lowery, designer at Rundle Spence. "The unique nature of this project, between stringent coding issues and a very high structure with lots of stairs, made it necessary to specify a product that was lighter in weight and easy to handle."

The solution was a PEX residential fire protection system integrated with the home's

Contractors' labor shortage

will affect manufacturers


OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF ALBUQUERQUE, N. M. — If they're not already, plumbing manufacturers better start paying attention to the labor shortages facing their contractor customers.

"It will be harder to attract young males to be plumbers," consultant Carl Cullotta of Frank

Lynn & Associates told members of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute April 10 during their spring meeting here. "You may have to find other ways to get your products installed — design products so contractors can be more productive or so that someone else can install them."

Construction trades people historically leave the workforce early with an average retirement age of 55, he said in his presentation, "Changing Customer Demographics and Their Impact on the Manufacturer." As a result, up to one-third of plumbers will leave the industry in the next decade, and this

would result in a loss of experience and an erosion of brand loyalty as well as the labor shortage.

"There are 500,000 plumbers in the United States," Cullotta said. "How are they going to be replaced? Not only are they retiring

Waterless compromise reached in Philly

PHILADELPHIA — Negotiations between developers, the plumbers union and the mayor's office here over the issue of waterless urinals have resulted in an agreement that will make the Comcast Center the tallest green building in the country.

Liberty Property Trust, which is building the 58-story, 975-ft. tall Comcast Center, has applied to the U.S. Green Building Council for certification. Part of the Leadership

in Energy and Environmental Design certification proposal was that the building would use waterless urinals, potentially saving 1.6 million gal. per year.

United Association Plumbers Local 690 didn't think much of the idea. Waterless urinals are not in the Philadelphia building code, and the union said it wasn't going to budge in its opposition to granting a variance.

Turn to Waterless, page 21

Turn to Labor, page 21 Turn to Firefighter, page 18

Milwaukee firefighter leads by example

EMCOR gets 8-year Navy contract in Puget Sound

cold water PEX plumbing system. The flexibility of PEX pipe manufactured by REHAU was beneficial as the job required snaking it around laminated

Continued from page 5

NORWALK, CONN. — EMCOR Group Inc. announced in early February that the U.S. Navy has awarded to EJB Facilities Services Inc., a joint venture for which EMCOR serves as managing partner, an eight-year contract to provide base operations support to facilities in the Western Puget Sound area of Washington State.

The bases, part of Naval Region Northwest, encompass strategically important fleet support activities, including the home of the U.S. Pacific Fleet's nuclear submarines.

EJB is a joint venture consisting of EMCOR Facilities Services, J&J Maintenance and BMAR & Associates. Total project value is in excess of $400 million, and EMCOR's share amounts to 40%.

Under terms of the contract, more than 500 professional, technical and crafts personnel of the joint venture and its subcontractors will provide a variety of support services for Naval Base-Kitsap and various other activities located in outlying areas. Services covered in the contract, which was awarded by the Navy Region North-

beams and through three floors of the home, said Mike Binder of Bayview Plumbing.

"This would have been extremely challenging and time-consuming had we used rigid pipe," Binder said.

REHAU engineers worked with

Bayview and Rundle Spence to specify the multi-purpose system using

3 /4-in. diameter PEXa pipe to feed the fire sprinklers. Additionally,

1 /2-in. PEX was used to branch from the system to service the home's plumbing needs.

In addition to addressing local fire code mandates, the residential fire protection system made it possible for Kerwin to secure a zoning variance after the home's foundation was deemed too close to the lot perimeter. Although Milwaukee fire codes require a certain amount of distance between a house and the property line, the high level of fire safety supplied by the system meant he could receive that variance without difficulty. This was especially helpful because the home builder was notified about this after the foundation

had already been poured.

The home has an unobstructed view across a park to Lake Michigan, Binder said. The four-story building has a garage, laundry room and mechanical room containing the furnace and water heater on the first floor. The water heater is a 75-gal. A.O. Smith power-vented unit.

The second floor holds the kitchen, living room, dining room and a bathroom. The third level has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The top floor has storage, a full bath and a living area with a walkout porch that has a view of the lake. The top floor has also been roughed-in for a future kitchen sink.

The homeowner made most of the brand decisions, and he was ecumenical. The Kohler kitchen sink has a Delta faucet. The toilets are Mansfield, a shower surround is by Sterling, an oversized 60-in.-by-42-in. tub module was supplied by Lasco, and shower valves and fittings are Moen. The Kohler whirlpool tub in the master bath has a Delta faucet with a hand-held spray. Lavatory faucets are Moen and Kohler.

Binder brought 1 1 /4-in. PEX into the house to a home-run system manifold. City water pressure is 67 PSI. It only

takes a couple of seconds to get hot water, he noted.

REHAU engineers designed the combined plumbing and fire sprinkler system. Binder installed eight or nine lines running from the bottom level up through the living spaces to supply 40 sprinklers. Each sprinkler is supplied from two sides and the lines are inter-connected to make sure the pressure is equal to all the sprinklers. All

1 /2-in. cold water supply lines come from the

3 /4-in. sprinkler lines.

Binder installed all the gas lines to the water heater, furnace, kitchen stove and the log lighter for the gas fireplace on the second floor. Binder ran 1-in. black pipe from the main into the building, terminating at a manifold. He then ran Titeflex Corp.'s 1/2-in. flexible corrugated stainless steel gas pipe to the appliances.

With the house still in its final phase of construction, Kerwin and his family are eager to finally call it their home.

"As a firefighter, a husband and a father, I'm grateful for the enhanced sense of security that REHAU's residential fire protection system will add to the overall excitement of finally living in our dream home," Kerwin said.

The family anticipates moving into the home before summer.

west, include management and administration, visual information services, security, facilities support, utilities, equipment maintenance, and environ-mental services.

The centerpiece of the contract is the Navy's submarine base in Bangor, Wash., located on the Hood Canal, which opens onto Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. In addition to being homeport for the U.S. Pacific submarine fleet, the area has other bases that will be served by the joint venture. They include the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Keyport, Wash.; Puget Sound Naval Shipyard; the Fleet Industrial Supply Center and Naval Hospital in Bremerton, Wash.; and the Naval Magazine on Indian Island.

"We are moving forward with creating more efficiencies in how we do business in supporting the fleet here in the Pacific Northwest," said Rear Admiral William French, Commander, Navy Region Northwest. "We are counting on EJB's expertise to help us in this endeavor."

EMCOR Group is a Fortune 500

worldwide leader in mechanical and electrical construction services, energy infrastructure and facilities services.

J&J Maintenance Inc., Austin, Texas, is a family-owned defense contractor specializing in base operations and maintenance and repair, military housing maintenance, and medical facility

operations, maintenance, and repair.

BMAR & Associates LLC, Hopkinsville, Ky., part of The LINC Group, specializes in the federal government and healthcare sectors with services in construction management, base operations and logistics, and medical facility operations and maintenance.

Viessmann celebrates 25 th

WATERLOO, ONTARIO — With more than 500 invited guests from across North America and Europe, Viessmann Manufacturing celebrated its silver anniversary in North America at the company's North American Headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada in April.

The daylong event featured presentations by Dr. Martin Viessmann, CEO and owner of the Viessmann Group, keynote speaker Dr. David Suzuki, award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster, and Harald Prell, general manager of Viessmann North America.

Prell thanked all Viessmann customers, industry partners and the

Viessmann team.

"Today is not only a celebration of the Viessmann success story in North America, but of what we have accomplished together as a team and as partners in the industry. Thank you to all of you for a 25-year joy ride," Prell said.

Titled "a celebration of the past, present and the future," the event included a picture display, illustrating the evolution of Viessmann in North America, as well as a project showcase of current Viessmann installations across North America.

Also on display were current Viess-mann products including solar systems and condensing boilers.

Labor shortage will affect manufacturers

Continued from page 5

with their skills but also with their brand loyalty."

That loyalty is important for manufacturers, he said, because plumbing contractors rarely switch brands or evaluate new ones. Contractors tend to react to problems with existing brands and suppliers and add new brands only incrementally over time. The reason they don't try more new brands, Cullotta noted, primarily is because of poor distributor service levels.

He predicted that contractors would start to hire more Hispanic workers to meet the labor shortage. Hispanic representation in the construction trades has more than doubled from 1993 to 2000, and Hispanics represent 15% of today's overall construction workforce, he said.

"At 14% of the plumbing contractor workforce, Hispanic employees are relatively under-represented," Cullotta said. "With the coming labor demand, it is likely that this percentage will increase significantly in the next decade.

"As manufacturers, you need to find a way to get to these plumbers early to gain their loyalty if they are Hispanic."

Among other changes that PMI members should know about their contractor customers, Cullotta noted, is that plumbing contractors are starting to exhibit characteristics similar to builders. The average size of a contracting business has increased by 20% over the last five years with the top 1,000 plumbing companies increasing their share of market by targeting commercial work and large home builders. The remainder of the market remains highly fragmented with smaller firms focusing on custom builders and remodel/repair work.

"The bigs are getting bigger, partnering with builders," Cullotta said. "The contractors in the middle are disappearing. Small contractors are cementing their position.

"Divergent business models of the plumbing contractor demand manufacturers differentiate their go-to-market programs."

Manufacturers also may have to pick up more of the training load, he said, because unions will face a tougher time attracting and retaining members. Today, as a skilled trade, plumbing has a stronger union representation than the overall construction industry.

"You may or may not like unions, but unions are a primary source of communication and education for the contractor," Cullotta said. "The burden for contractor education/training will shift to manufacturers and other industry participants."

Contractors' growing manpower problems coincide with an increasing shift away from do-it-yourself retail sales to "do-it-for-me" purchases where consumers are willing to pay for both the product and installation, Cullotta said. Aging baby boomers will continue to define spending in the remodel/repair market, which will continue to expand, he noted.

Waterless compromise

The parties reached agreement in April that water supply piping would

be installed behind the wall, although not connected. The installation of the

116 urinals in the building would be considered a five-year trial. The urinals would be replaced during that period if they did not work. And Liberty Property Trust would not install waterless urinals in any other building in the city during the five-year trial. The city's plumbing review board approved the deal.

The issue became a matter of civic pride. Philadelphia was delighted that Comcast made the commitment to stay in its hometown. The Comcast Center is the biggest real estate development in the city center in 13 years.

Moreover, if the Comcast Center lost the title of America's tallest green building, the honor would have gone to the Bank of America Tower in New York. The $540 million structure, designed by the architectural firm of Robert A.M. Stern, is scheduled for completion in fall 2007.

"Home Depot is capturing the do-it-for-me dynamics," Cullotta told PMI members. "Home Depot's latest earnings report said that for the first time installed sales have affected its bottom line."

Big-box retailers such as The Home Depot and Lowe's have been responsible for more than 20% market growth in the remodel/repair market in the last 10 to 15 years, he said. During that time their sales and locations have tripled, and these retailers are reaching the saturation point where few areas remain to add stores.

Partly as a result, Home Depot is no longer driving change in the market, he said. Its purchase of Orlando, Fla.based wholesaling giant Hughes Supply in January signaled a change in direction in how Home Depot is pursuing plumbing sales to professional contractors, he said.

"Home Depot is not changing the way Hughes does business," Cullotta said. "It's not changing the way contractors buy."

The traditional distribution channel that moves plumbing products from

manufacturer to wholesaler to contractor will continue to be important, he noted. Yet it won't be driving sales in the future either.

"The sales channel is nice, but it doesn't count," Cullotta said. "The end user will be more important than the sales channel. All evidence is pointing to putting much more emphasis on the consumer as the ultimate decision-maker."

Changing consumer demographics will make an impact on the residential market as well. Two primary factors will be the aging baby boomers and a larger group of immigrants in the home-buyer market.

Houses designed for "active adults" or as second homes will appeal to the baby boomers, he said. Lower-end homes will be more attractive to many immigrants.

"Residential new construction will not be as strong as we like, and the product mix will change," Cullotta said. "The remodel/repair market is likely to remain robust into the foreseeable future. The bathroom and kitchen still will be the sweet spot."

Continued from page 5

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