IAPMO GTC tackles energy, water issues

Jan. 6, 2012
ONTARIO, CALIF. — The Green Technical Committee of IAPMO has finished its work on the 2012 edition of the Green Plumbing & Mechanical Code Supplement, with the acknowledgement that there’s a lot left to do.

ONTARIO, CALIF. — The Green Technical Committee of the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials has finished its work on the 2012 edition of the Green Plumbing & Mechanical Code Supplement, with the acknowledgement that there’s a lot left to do as the industry’s knowledge and practice of energy and water conservation expands.

For example, the GTC requires that water closets be 1.28-GPF HETs, with the exception of toilets in commercial office buildings that are 30-ft. or farther upstream from other drain line connections. So-called “remote” toilets can be 1.6-GPF because of drainline carry concerns. The exception was authored by Thomas Pape, technical advisor for the Alliance for Water Efficiency and a principal at Best Management Partners, Waterloo, Ill. Pape wrote the same language in the International Code Council’s International Green Construction Code, due to be published in 2012.

“This is needed until we complete the PERC study to better determine the cause and solution for the drainline complaints,” Pape said. “It is suspected this problem is in existing buildings where the drain line may have shifted and be oversized for the new low volume fixtures. When we finish the study, we might be able to limit the 1.6 [requirement] to pre-1994 buildings.”

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Just this month [January 2012] the Plumbing Efficiency Research Coalition (PERC) received funding and began a research study on building drainline performance that will analyze the potential for blockages resulting from the use of reduced flow water closets in commercial buildings and evaluate the use of higher volume flush valve discharges at intermittent intervals as a way to effectively clear drainlines. The research will be done at an American Standard testing facility under the supervision of PERC. Click here to read CONTRACTOR's coverage of the drainline carry study.

Another issue about which the GTC admitted that it did not have enough information is commercial food waste disposer. Commercial disposers have long been a pet peeve of Texas-based engineer H.W. “Bill” Hoffman, president at H.W. (Bill) Hoffman & Assocates LLC. Commercial kitchen disposers often use large amounts of water, and kitchen staff has a tendency to leave them running for long periods of time, especially in applications such as institutional cafeterias.

“Everyone is in full support of reducing the excessive water waste of food grinders, and we all know direct composting food waste is the best green method to convert waste into beneficial use,” Pape said. “The problem is the alternative directives: sending to landfill or sending to the sewer. We are very skeptical of the food grinder manufacturers' claim that the sewer line is always the "greenest" alternative.”

Pape said the committee had a number of concerns and will seek input from sanitation districts and public works department before it proceeds.

“As chairman, my focus is on the process,” said William N. Erickson, “and what continually amazes me is how the GTC, for whatever reason, can continue to attract the best and the brightest industry citizens, whether they be labor, or a manufacturer, whether they be a regulator, or whether they be a contractor. These folks just keep showing up with great ideas and a great work ethics — and they like it.

“The other thing that I observed,” Erickson continued, “is that the more progress we make, the more I realize there’s a lot left to do.”

Erickson, who is also chairman of C.J. Erickson Plumbing Co., Alsip, Ill., noted that space had been reserved for Life Cycle Assessments because the GTC didn’t know how to approach the subject. Craig Selover, director of Plumbing Platform Technology at MASCO Corp. has done much of the pioneering work on LCA for the committee.

“There’s other stuff coming out thin air that nobody thought about before and that we have to tackle,” Erickson said, “like how do you inspect and test a rainwater catchment tank out in the desert without any water in it? We have to decide if it would be appropriate to fill the tank.”

The committee agreed on maximum flow rates for plumbing fixtures and fittings that are familiar to anyone who follows water conservation efforts or the EPA’s WaterSense program. Showerheads can flow up to 2.0-GPM at 80-psi, residential lavatory faucets 1.5-GPM, commercial lav faucets at 0.5-GPM, kitchen pre-rinse spray valves at 1.6-GPM, and so on. In a major change, however, the committee dumped water saving calculations.

In a comment authored by MASCO’s Selover, water savings calculations to determine 20% water savings were moved back into the appendix, said Dave Viola, IAPMO’s director of special services.

Instead, the GTC kept Table 402.1, “Maximum fixture and fittings flow rates for reduced water using fixtures,” instructing plumbing practitioners to just follow the flow rates in the table.

In a comment submitted by Len Swatkowski, technical director, Plumbing Manufacturers International, residential kitchen faucets must flow 1.8-GPM, but allow 2.2-GPM flow for tasks such as pot-filling. The mechanism, however, must go back to 1.8-GPM as a default setting automatically. It must not be possible to lock the flow rate at the higher setting.

Turning aside earlier efforts to ban water-powered backup sump pumps, the GTC accepted the comment from Jeffrey Waterman, product engineer from Liberty Pumps Inc. The provision mandates that sump pumps powered by potable or reclaimed (recycled) water pressure shall only be used as an emergency backup pump. The water-powered pump must be equipped with a battery-powered alarm having a minimum rating of 85 dBa at 10 feet. Water-powered pumps shall have a water efficiency factor of pumping at least 1.4 gal. of water to a height of 10-ft. for every gallon of water used to operate the pump, measured at a water pressure of 60-PSI.

The committee combined a number of requirements for residential and commercial hot water systems, including ways to limit excessive pump run times, and pipe insulation requirements for recirculating hot water systems.

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