Legislative Update

ASPE works to make legislative impact at all industry levels

By Carol Johnson, CPD, LEED AP, CFI

At ASPE’s 2015 Technical Symposium in St. Louis last month, in addition to the technical classes and product show, ASPE’s committees held meetings, and one such meeting was the Legislative Committee meeting. During this meeting, action updates regarding ASPE’s legislative activities were given. In the past few years, ASPE has made monumental steps at all levels of the plumbing industry. ASPE has collaborated with other industry organizations to work toward the betterment of the public’s health and safety, increased our global presence, and enhanced the impact of plumbing engineers on the local level. 

ASPE’s Executive Director and CEO William “Billy” Smith, FASPE, has continued and developed numerous relationships and is active on many committees with other industry organizations, including the International Code Council (ICC), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), CSA Group, ASSE International, ASME International, ASHRAE, the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARSCA), and other code and standard development committees. Through Billy’s hard work, ASPE has been involved in developing the following standards: 

• IAPMO/ANSI Z1157-2014, Ball Valves
• IAPMO/ANSI Z1002-2014, Rainwater Harvesting Tanks
• IAPMO/ANSI Z1001-2014, Prefabricated Gravity 

  Grease Interceptors

• ASME A112 standards 

ASPE also has its own standards development program and is an ANSI Accredited Standards Developer. In collaboration with ARCSA, we have published ARCSA/ASPE/ANSI 63: Rainwater Harvesting Systems and ARCSA/ASPE/ANSI 78: Stormwater Harvesting System Design for Direct End-Use Applications. We also have partnered with the Water Quality Association (WQA) to develop the following product sustainability standards:

WQA/ASPE/ANSI S-803: Sustainable Drinking Water Treatment Systems, WQA/ASPE/ANSI S802: Sustainable Activated Carbon Media for Drinking Water Treatment, WQA/ASPE/ANSI S-801: Sustainable Management, WQA/ASPE 500: Final Barrier Standard for Maximum Public Health Protection, and WQA/ASPE 1201: Electrochemical Drinking Water Treatment Systems. 

Legislative committee members are actively involved in code development to help improve everyone’s quality of life. We are currently working on code changes for ICC’s 2018 cycle. In addition, listed are some of the many members who represent ASPE on the following committees:

• Michael Frankel, FASPE, NFPA Healthcare Facilities Technical Committee
• Gary Chiurazzi, CPD, ICC Plumbing, Mechanical, Fuel Gas, and Swimming Pool Code Interpretation Committee
• David DeBord, CPD, GPD, LEED AP BD+C, ARCSA AP, CFPS, FASPE, International Plumbing Code (IPC) Development Committee
• J. Richard Wagner, P.E., National Standard Plumbing Code Development Committee
• Martin Trim, P.E., CPD, GPD, LEED AP, NFPA Technical Committee on Residential Sprinkler Systems
• J. Joe Scott II, CPD, LEED AP, FASPE, ASHRAE 191 Efficient Use of Water in Buildings Main Committee
• Edward Saltzberg, P.E., CPD, FASPE, Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) Green Supplement Technical Committee

Regarding ASPE’s voice, what is most interesting is what is happening on the local level. Sixty percent of ASPE chapters are involved in legislative issues as well as code and standard development and interpretation at the local and state level. These individuals are truly teaching others in our industry. The wealth of information available on the local level is one of ASPE’s biggest assets. ASPE members are educating other construction industry professionals about plumbing engineers and better defining the role of ASPE. 

It is obvious to see that ASPE is helping address sustainable water quality, public health, and conservation of valuable resources that are imperative to the human race. Our role in the plumbing industry is significant. 

This article would not be complete without mentioning Legionella, which was the hottest topic at the 2015 symposium and in recent news. ASPE continues to participate as a voting member on the committee responsible for developing ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2015, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems, because we recognize the importance in providing information on design guidelines for reducing the risk of Legionella contamination. 

Moving forward, ASPE will continue to maintain liaisons with code bodies and organizations to provide engineering input into the decision-making process. To add your voice to our efforts, get involved with your local ASPE chapter. Become a member to increase your input on codes and standards, and help ensure better quality of life for everyone. 

 

Carol Johnson, CPD, LEED AP, CFI, is ASPE’s vice president of Legislative and project manager of Plumbing and Fire Protection at Edmonds Engineering in Hoover, Ala. Contact her at aspevpl@aspe.org.


The U.S. water crisis: PMI works with policymakers and allies to affect change 

By Fernando Fernandez, Director, Codes and Standards, TOTO USA, President, PMI

With much of the U.S. facing significant water shortages, Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) proactively engaged with policymakers and allies to confront the challenges presented by droughts, aging infrastructure, and rising water costs and demand. Throughout 2015, PMI raised awareness at federal, state and local levels on the ways plumbing products can provide immediate water savings. 

PMI worked with the California Energy Commission (CEC), and the state’s Department of Water Resources and State Water Resources Control Board as they developed an implementation timeline for California’s new standards for bathroom faucets and showerheads. The bathroom faucet standard moved from 2.2 gallons per minute (gpm) to 1.5 gpm on September 1, and will go to 1.2 gpm on July 1, 2016. California’s showerhead standard will move from the current 2.5 gpm to 2.0 gpm on July 1, 2016 and to 1.8 gpm on July 1, 2018. PMI also urged California to provide monetary incentives for the purchase of water-efficient plumbing products. Current rebates may be found at online via the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Rebate Finder and California’s Save Our Water Rebates Program.

In Colorado, PMI stopped an attempt to overturn Colorado’s “Phase in High-Efficiency Water Fixtures Options” legislation, signed into effect in June 2014, which requires new lavatory faucets, toilets, urinals and showerheads to meet WaterSense standards. PMI worked closely with Denver Water to help bring about the June 2014 legislation and continues to do so in preparation for the law’s September 2016 implementation.

PMI and its member company executives have underscored the importance of using WaterSense products to save significant amounts of water immediately. 

“The future is now – a time when steps to sustain an ever-precious resource must be taken,” stated Barbara C. Higgens, CEO and executive director of PMI. “As good stewards of the environment, PMI wants everyone to know that using WaterSense plumbing products is an immediate action that can be taken to save water. There have been tremendous advancements in the technology and efficacy of plumbing products. Just as you wouldn’t use a 20-year-old cell phone, it doesn’t make sense to use 20-year-old plumbing technology. Using WaterSense products is common sense. Start saving more water today.”

PMI’s 2015 Conference was held on October 26-29, in San Antonio, Texas, to build upon these efforts by providing members the chance to engage with others to prepare for 2016. The PMI conference was themed “The Future of Water: Wins, Woes and Worries.”

Legislative efforts lead to committee approval of WaterSense Authorization Amendment

Efforts prior to and during the recent PMI Executive Fly-In, on September 15-16, to Capitol Hill led to the September 30 approval by the House Energy and Commerce Committee of a bipartisan WaterSense authorization amendment within H.R. 8 – the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act. Achieving authorization will help ensure the voluntary program’s continuance. PMI worked closely with the sponsors of the amendment, Representatives Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Jerry McNerney (D-California), to advocate support.

PMI maintains relationships with Congressional leaders, policymakers, EPA, and the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as state and regional officials. PMI is a member of the Ripon Society and is currently pursuing membership in the U.S. Water Alliance and a regular participant in code hearings and rulemaking. 

PMI-commissioned study shows significant WaterSense adoption upside still remains

To enhance legislative outreach, PMI commissioned a WaterSense Market Penetration Study by GMP Research showing slow adoption of WaterSense toilets, showerheads and bathroom faucets in drought-stricken states. The study found that, on average, only 6.7 percent of the toilets installed nationwide are WaterSense toilets using 1.28 gallons per flush. In addition, 25.4 percent of bathroom faucets nationwide meet the WaterSense standard of 1.5 gpm, and 28.7 percent of showerheads meet the WaterSense standard of 2.0 gpm. In California, only 5.5 percent of the state’s 33.5 million installed residential and commercial toilets are WaterSense rated, 21.1 percent of bathroom faucets meet WaterSense criteria, and 23.9 percent of showerheads meet WaterSense standards.

Spreading the word about water-efficient plumbing

In addition to organizing the legislative fly-in and face-to-face meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill, PMI is conducting a letter campaign to governors of drought states and is working closely with policymakers and water groups across the country on legislation, codes and standards. 

Social media campaigns, like #WhyPlumbingMatters and PMI’s new “Safe, responsible plumbing. Always” video, tell how PMI members’ products save water while meeting high safety and performance standards. These campaigns and other PMI collateral have been designed to help policymakers understand the issues affecting the plumbing industry and the important role plumbing plays in protecting health and safety. 


PHCC advocates on issues affecting business and livelihood

By Mark Riso, Director, Government Relations, PHCC—National Association

It’s easy to forget that while you and your workers are busy serving your customers, Congress and the Federal government are busy as well — on issues that could affect your business and livelihood. That’s why PHCC—National Association watches what goes on in Washington closely, and represents contractors’ interests day in and day out.  

I recently joined with PHCC Vice President of Code and Technical Services Chuck White to present a webinar updating members on current legislative/regulatory issues. Here’s a recap of our discussion.

Legislative news

As I’m writing this (in mid-September), it’s not clear whether Congress will pass a budget for FY 2016, or rely on a Continuing Resolution that freezes spending at 2015 levels. We’re continuing to work with Congress to urge funding for workforce development — specifically, reauthorization of the Perkins Act (career and technical training). Other relevant issues have passed the House and are moving into the Senate, including Regulatory Accountability and 179D expensing. PHCC—National will be sending out Legislative Alerts on these issues and others that arise.

Regulatory updates 

The Department of Energy (DOE) is working on changes to the Furnace, Air Conditioner, and Heat Pump Rule that established regional standards for non-weatherized furnace and split-system central air conditioners. DOE is proposing to modify the furnace portion of the regulation to establish a nationwide minimum residential gas furnace efficiency of 92 percent. PHCC and other stakeholders have pointed out problems this could cause, and DOE is working on a compromise position. Industry will have an opportunity to comment on the final proposal.

PHCC and other stakeholders are also working on a regional enforcement strategy for the air conditioner portion of the rule. Work on this issue concluded in the fall of 2014, and DOE should have already informed the public and asked for comment. To date, however, no information has been released.

DOE is also considering returning to a single national efficiency standard that would simplify enforcement. But, could also result in the minimum SEER rating rising to 15 or 16. They might also change test procedures to allow the test to more accurately reflect installed conditions. We’re not sure how this will pan out, but most likely, efficiency ratings will be made more stringent.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has created a rule clarifying confined space requirements in construction, with enforcement that began in early October. Contractors need to be prepared to evaluate situations on a case-by-case basis, have compliance plans in place, communicate with others on jobsites, and implement safe practices. 

DOL has also released new guidance on who is exempt from overtime pay. Generally, businesses under $500,000 in annual revenue are already exempt. Under previous rules, exempt workers had to be in professional, managerial, or executive positions, or earn more than roughly $455 per week. The new rule may raise that threshold to a $970 in 2016. More information at: www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/NPRM2015/factsheet.htm.

To learn more about PHCC’s efforts in Washington, visit www.phccweb.org.  And, save the date for PHCC’s next Legislative Conference: May 18-19, 2016. Call (800)533-7694 for additional information. 

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