Green Plumbers Training restores image of the trade, increases business opportunities

Jan. 3, 2014
First of all, we don’t want any more butt crack jokes. We — Green Plumbers Training — are working to restore the image of the plumbing trade. Think about the image the profession started to adopt in the early 20th century … think of the slogan and the poster we, in the industry, are so familiar with: a plumber surrounded by adoring citizens with the headline, “The Plumber Protects the Health of the Nation.”

Water conservation is not going away, and when the opportunity to bring Green Plumbers Training to the U.S., and later all of North America, presented itself, it was done with four specific goals in mind: to restore the image of the plumbing industry; to provide a pathway to employment; to become champions of conservation; and to increase business opportunities.

Industry professionals learn about water-efficient technologies during a training course.

First of all, we don’t want any more butt crack jokes. We — Green Plumbers Training — are working to restore the image of the plumbing trade. Think about the image the profession started to adopt in the early 20th century … think of the slogan and the poster we, in the industry, are so familiar with: a plumber surrounded by adoring citizens with the headline, “The Plumber Protects the Health of the Nation.” This image creates an idea of what the trade was and still is today. Even if the trade is still not considered by the general public a reliable and worthy career, as an industry, we need to keep this mantra in mind as we restore the image of the modern plumbing contractor for all to see.     

Besides restoring the image of the plumbing industry, Green Plumbers Training is also working to provide a pathway to employment. There is a projected need for more than 100,000 plumbers in the next 10 years. How many young people can’t wait to graduate and apply to be a plumber? Teenagers are avoiding the plumbing trade (and most all other trade industries) in droves. We know that some of them would like to find a satisfying job where they can use their hands, be challenged and still use their brains. Good plumbers may not need to go to college, but that doesn’t mean we are not bright or there is a lack of intelligence. I’ve taught classes for more than 30 years, and I am regularly amazed at the brilliance some of the students display. When you change the image of the trade to “green,” the belief is that young people concerned about the health of the planet (because they are going to be here for a while) should have a vested interest in making sure our natural resources are used wisely.

The Solar Water Heating course gives contractors an overview of design strategies, solar fraction, collector orientation, and rebates and tax credits.

The organization encourages class attendees to become “Champions of Conservation” by being in the forefront of the movement, exhorting that Green Plumbers don’t just “Protect the Health of the Nation,” Green Plumbers also “Protect the Resources of the Planet.” Last, but definitely not least, we are focused on increasing business opportunities through brand recognition, with Accredited Green Plumbers becoming advisors to clients and performing water and energy related audits while showing property owners the opportunities to reduce their yearly costs for water, energy and sewage.

Plumbers as advisors

A major focus of the organization’s training has been to position plumbers as advisors to their customers and clients. Many plumbers have face-to-face contact with property owners every day. If they are well trained and informed, they have the opportunity to influence purchasing decisions. If it’s related to water, including irrigation, kitchen and bath fixtures and other appliances, plumbers need to put themselves out there as trusted advisors. We encourage those taking the training to look at their clientele in a new light and build a relationship with them sustained by e-mails or newsletters about new products or perhaps rebate opportunities. Green will eventually turn into the new normal, so now is the opportunity for plumbers to get out front of other plumbing professionals with knowledge of high-efficiency products that work well and save water as well as money. With Green Plumbers Training, plumbers will have the knowledge and skill set to become the best and most up-to-date customer advisors in the plumbing industry. Below is a sampling of what you will learn when taking our courses.

After taking the “Caring For Our Water” course, plumbers will understand the water cycle process and the new technologies and behaviors that contribute to increased conservation. Topics covered include global water, water efficient products, new technology, reducing household water use, and an introduction to water audits.

Comprehensive instruction on “Climate Care” includes topics such as greenhouse gas emissions in homes and businesses, the water/energy nexus, energy consumption with an eye toward conservation, greenhouse gas abatement, efficient water heating equipment and hot water delivery, plus many more relevant conservation topics.

In “Water Efficient Technologies,” plumbers learn about the emerging technologies that will shape future conservation efforts including potential hazards; rainwater capture and graywater reuse; calculating condensate for recovery and repurposing, and on site wastewater treatment, reclaimed/recycled water and water treatment.

The “Solar Hot Water” course covers technologies instruction, including site survey, sizing, classic solar thermal, new solar technologies, design strategies, retrofitting and utility rebates/tax credits. And the “Building Plumbing Inspection” course, plumbers will learn about domestic and commercial water auditing, inspections and reporting, and assessment and strategies. Go to for more information on courses.

A growing organization

Even though growth has been slowed by economic forces, which have affected many businesses and professional organizations, Green Plumbers Training has expanded its reach thanks to the stability of the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials’ opportunities for growth and the influence education has had in the trade.

For example, since the acquisition in April of 2011, we’ve published the Green Plumbers Reference Manual (approximately 450 pages), done a 24-hour Green Inspectors training for Los Angeles City and county inspectors (twice), and rebranded and repackaged Green Plumbers Training webinars into 31 40-60 minute increments to accommodate those who are not close enough or are simply unable to take live training classes. We continue to provide live training when there is sufficient demand such as we did recently in Atlanta and Las Vegas (twice), Sacramento, Calif., Sierra Vista, Ariz., and Fairfield, Maine.

We’ve also worked with Plumbing Manufacturers International on offering their basic information classes as webinars and with American Society of Plumbing Engineers, laying the ground work and teaching a 14-hour beta version of Green Plumbing training that is scheduled to morph into a Green Plumbing Designer certification. Green Plumbers Training has also partnered with Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association for instructor training in three cities.

For those interested, we also maintain a Facebook page keeping it relevant by linking 10 to 15 stories weekly. Generally the stories are about water and conservation and, of course, the U.S. Drought monitor.

Doug Kirk is a second generation plumber with more than 40 years in the trade. In 1980 he began teaching plumbing classes for San Diego Community College ROP Plumber Training Classes. He was credentialed in 1982 and joined the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors National Association the same year. The beginning of his ongoing involvement with the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials began in 1984. In January 2008, he went to work for Green Plumbers USA, tasked with adapting the Australian model to the U.S. market. As senior instructor and director of course materials he has taught Green Plumbers USA classes in more than a dozen states and took the Green Plumbers message and training to India in December of 2009. He currently works with IAPMO, after its acquisition of Green Plumbers Training, and is the director of green plumbing curriculum.

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