On the road: PILC 2016

Meeting takes on theme ‘new administration, same issues’ amidst election season.

On May 12, more than 16 well-known organizations and companies in the plumbing industry gathered at the Westin O’Hare, in Rosemont, Illinois, for the 5th annual Plumbing Industry Leadership Coalition (PILC) meeting. This year’s attendees included the Copper Development Association (CDA), Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI), American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), Water Quality Association (WQA), International Codes Council (ICC), and more. The Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating (CIPH), NSF International and CSA Group were also in attendance as guests of the coalition. 

PILC is designed to bring leaders together to discuss high-level strategic issues impacting the plumbing community. This year’s meeting began with individual introductions from each attendee, followed by approval of the 2015 meeting minutes. Following the approval, representatives from the tri-chair organizations, PMI, IAPMO and ASPE, welcomed attendees. After her comments about the joint PMI and United Association humanitarian outreach in Flint, Michigan, Barbara C. Higgens, CEO and executive director of PMI, opened the floor for a special announcement from CIPH. Ralph Suppa, president and general manager of CIPH, shared news of the Fort McMurray Fire in Alberta, Canada. He noted that CIPH had partnered with the Canadian Red Cross for their relief efforts campaign and encouraged attendees to donate as well.  

Next on the agenda was a government relations update from PMI advocate, Stephanie Salmon, IAPMO advocate, Dain Hansen, and AWE advocate, Mary Ann Dickinson. A special call-out was made for the celebration of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense program’s 10th anniversary. The program has yet to be authorized, and in June PMI, IAPMO and other organizations made a formal call to legislators to make this happen in commemoration of the milestone anniversary. Salmon and Hansen also addressed how the EPA Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act has not been codified since going into effect in 2014. To close, Salmon and Hansen brought attention to the 2016 Water Resources Development Act introduced by the U.S. Senate, which has tie-ins to the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis. Both said that investment in infrastructure and wastewater are top industry-related issues being presented to legislators this year.
Pete DeMarco, executive vice president of Advocacy and Research at IAPMO, took the floor next. DeMarco gave a high-level recap of the 2016 International Emerging Technology Symposium (IETS) that was held just before the PILC meeting. A major takeaway from this year’s IETS was that the plumbing industry is becoming increasingly integrated with other water-related organizations and academia. The collaboration supports water efficiency approaches in a more holistic way that avoids unintended consequences such as compromises to water quality. As a result, there is a growing focus on systems approaches to products and design, as well as a team approach to projects that incorporate engineers, contractors and building owners.

DeMarco also presented an update on behalf of the Plumbing Efficiency Research Coalition (PERC). This update centered on the coalition’s recent “Drain Line Transport of Solid Waste in Building Drains” report, which was met with interest from the industry. DeMarco closed by reported on projects IAPMO has taken a lead on, including its partnership with ASPE and the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF). The groups are developing a scientifically-based statistical formula for pipe-sizing calculations for domestic buildings. 
Next, Dave Purkiss, general manager of NSF International, presented on two new standards, NSF 459 and NSF/ASHRAE 444. The standards deal with the prevention and/or reduction of biofilm growth on water supplies. Research opportunities are ongoing, and Purkiss encouraged attendees to come on board and invite colleagues to do so as well.

The meeting closed with updates on newly formed or forming initiatives related to the plumbing industry. Hansen returned to talk about High Performance Buildings Day and the coalitions and organizations that have partnered on the effort. A full week of events that celebrated high performance building was held, starting on June 13.

Next, Suppa returned to discuss Canada-U.S. joint standards that CIPH and CSA Group have begun looking into. Finally, Mary Eggert, a special guest of PMI at this year’s meeting, made a passionate presentation about the newly formed Global Water Works organization. This organization was founded based on the idea of “networking for water.” The organization is avidly searching for industry experts to contribute to research, studies and general efforts. Those interested can find them at www.globalwaterworks.org.

As always, Plumbing Engineer found the PILC meeting informative of industry issues and full of rich networking opportunities and story ideas. We thank the coalition for the invite, and look forward to serving as a media partner at the 2017 meeting.

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