ASPE Joins the World Plumbing Council

The American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) is honored to announce their acceptance by the World Plumbing Council (WPC) as a Full member.

The WPC was formed to encourage and facilitate the exchange of research and technology information applicable to the world plumbing industry, promote plumbing education and training worldwide, and promote the plumbing industry’s role in improving public health through the provision and protection of safe water and sanitation. These objectives closely align with ASPE’s mission to advance the science of plumbing engineering and ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the public through the dissemination of technical data, research, and education.

“Being a member of such a prestigious organization with many of the same goals and interests of ASPE can only improve both organizations and promote sound engineering principles to protect the public’s health and safety throughout the world,” says ASPE President William F. Hughes Jr., CPD, LEED AP, FASPE. “We are committed to providing expertise and assistance in helping the WPC achieve its objectives.”

This affiliation also provides new opportunities for ASPE members and the international plumbing engineering community. “ASPE members will be able to share information throughout the world with other experts in the plumbing industry,” Hughes says. “The sharing of this information will provide ASPE members the opportunity to review new and various technologies that are rapidly developing throughout the world.”

For more information about the WPC, please visit their website at WorldPlumbing.org.

ASPE Joins the Plumbing Efficiency Research Coalition

Last week, the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) joined the Plumbing Efficiency Research Coalition (PERC) as the sixth member of the group. PERC was founded in 2009 to develop research projects that will support the development of water-efficient and sustainable plumbing products, systems, and practices. Projects will be financed through government grants, foundations, and private financing.

ASPE Executive Director/CEO Jim Kendzel says, “The objectives of the Coalition are consistent with ASPE’s desire to provide the plumbing engineer community information that helps them to design plumbing systems that are environmentally sound while also protecting public health.”

The five charter member organizations of PERC are the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), International Code Council (ICC), Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association (PHCC), and Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI).

The coalition has identified drainline transport as its first research project.

New Federal Lead-free Requirement Helps Protect the Nation’s Drinking Water Supply

On January 4, President Obama signed the “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act” into law, effective Jan. 4, 2014. This important law, which follows similar mandates such as the federal “Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act of 2010″ and California’s AB 1953, is a critical step in the effort to remove lead from the nation’s drinking water supplies.

While many manufacturers, to remain competitive, already have reduced the lead content in their products, this new law should encourage all manufacturers of drinking water system components to come out with innovative new designs. Plumbing engineers can help by discussing the issue with their suppliers and only specifying lead-free products to prevent lead from leaching into drinking water.

Drinking water that contains lead can cause physical and mental development delays in children and high blood pressure and kidney problems in adults. Removing lead from drinking water system components is an obvious way to help prevent such problems.

Why Doesn’t Massachusetts Recognize Plumbing Engineers?

When exactly was the last time a Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) member had a drink of water? It must have been bottled, since they probably won’t want to drink it from a faucet. When was the last time one of them used and flushed the toilet? Why does this matter?

Years ago, the Massachusetts DPL discontinued official recognition of plumbing engineers, despite the fact that the DPL’s mission is “to protect the public health, safety, and welfare by licensing qualified individuals who provide services to consumers and by fair and consistent enforcement of the statutes and regulations of the boards of registration.”

Plumbing engineers play a vital role in protecting the public’s health, safety, and welfare as much as or more than other recognized engineering specialties, including civil and fire protection engineers. Plumbing engineers are responsible for designing water systems that provide clean, potable water, so when you turn on a faucet, you know you’ll be safe. They design systems that prevent polluted water from entering our water systems and our homes. They utilize technologies to keep children and the elderly from being scalded in their own baths. Plumbing engineers design piping systems that deliver life-saving medical gases to those undergoing surgery, as well as systems that safely transport toxic and sanitary wastes to disposal areas.

The field of plumbing engineering, as many other engineering fields, has incorporated many technical changes and advances over the past few years. Due to the environmental sustainability movement and concerns about water conservation, plumbing systems have become more than just pipes sticking out of walls. Plumbing engineers are responsible for designing these sophisticated systems. They are the professionals who oversee the construction process, ensuring that the proper design is incorporated and that the installation meets all code-mandated requirements.

Currently, Massachusetts recognizes the contractors, installers, and plumbers responsible for installing and building these systems, as well as the inspectors who ensure that they are safe. What the state does not do is provide the necessary recognition for the individuals who engineer and design plumbing systems.

To correct this egregious oversight, the Boston Chapter of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) has been actively pursuing the reinstatement of professional registration for plumbing engineering. Members of the chapter approached Massachusetts State Senator James Timilty, chair of the Committee on Public Safety, and asked him to help investigate this situation.

As a result of these efforts, Senator Timilty filed Senate Bill 181: An Act relative to plumbing engineers, which states, “Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the board of registration of professional engineers and land surveyors, established under section 45 of chapter 13, shall promulgate rules and regulations to establish and certify the registration of a class of engineer specifically trained in plumbing.”

Passage of this bill by both the Massachusetts House and Senate and subsequent signing into law by Governor Deval Patrick will act to direct the Board of Licensure to reinstate the Registered Plumbing Engineer designation within the Commonwealth.

The bill currently is being debated in committee. The recognition of plumbing engineering as a distinct discipline would allow plumbing engineers to take ownership of their designs and ensure the proper, successful installation of plumbing systems. It also would be a huge step toward the goal of professional registration of plumbing engineers nationwide.

The No. 1 priority of plumbing engineers is to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. Recognizing the true value of this discipline is long past due and a travesty to the citizens of the state of Massachusetts.

ASPE Says NO to Residential Fire Deaths

In 2007, home structure fires caused 2,865 civilian deaths, 13,600 civilian injuries, and $7.4 billion in direct damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The fact is, approximately 84 percent of civilian fire deaths occurred in homes.

Dying in a home structure fire, currently a major national tragedy, is not necessary and should no longer be happening! The American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) is in the forefront of a campaign to encourage the installation of fire sprinklers in residential dwellings. According to NFPA, fire deaths are reduced by 87 percent in one- and two-family dwellings when sprinklers are installed and activate.

“A low-cost residential sprinkler system has proven to be effective in protecting occupants during a fire,” says Julius Ballanco, PE, president of ASPE. “The sprinkler system will suppress a fire and maintainability in the room of fire origin. While it is easy for an individual to sleep through the beep of a smoke detector, with a residential sprinkler system installed, they still can survive even if in the room of fire’s origin.”

As part of this effort, ASPE joined numerous organizations and other advocates such as the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), and the NFPA to champion an International Code Council (ICC) code proposal that would require sprinklers in new homes. An article published in ASPE’s magazine, Plumbing Systems & Design, was used as a crucial tool to educate code officials on the design and installation of residential fire sprinkler systems.

We are firm believers that residential sprinklers should be mandated,” Ballanco says. “It is an engineer’s responsibility to first serve the public. We are serving the public by bringing a technology forward that will save thousands of lives.”

In response to ASPE’s efforts, last September the ICC approved Proposal RB64, which requires fire sprinklers in all new homes beginning January 1, 2011. Proposal RB66, requiring fire sprinklers in townhouses, also was approved. The new mandates are found in the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC), which comes out this month.

Unfortunately, several trade organizations—including the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which has a stated goal to protect the public’s safety, health, and welfare—are opposed to the new mandate. They claim that the fire sprinkler requirement would put an undue financial burden on new home developers, consequently driving up the cost of new homes or even halting new construction altogether. Another argument in opposition is that fire sprinkler pipes would be susceptible to bursting and flooding in areas subject to freezing conditions.

However, installing fire sprinklers in a residential structure adds very little expense to the overall price of a home. In a 2007 code application in the State of Oregon, the application states: “Residential sprinkler systems in Scottsdale [Arizonia] were recently quoted as costing $0.55 to $0.75 per square foot, and there are now well over 40,000 sprinkled homes in the city.” This same Oregon code application states: “Recent surveys of sprinkler costs for affordable homes in the 1,000- to 1,200-square-foot range showed that the added cost of materials related to sprinkler protection was in the $0.25 to $0.30 per square foot range, and the sprinkler installation required less than eight hours of additional labor. “

Furthermore, in a survey of more than 1,000 adults by Harris Interactive, 45 percent of homeowners said that a sprinklered home is more desirable than an unsprinklered home, and 69 percent of homeowners said that having a fire sprinkler system increases the value of a home.

ASPE believes that the proper engineering, design, installation, and inspection of sprinklers will prove the fears for bursting and flooding to be unfounded. “ASPE will be educating state officials, the construction industry, designers, and the public on the benefits of residential sprinklers,” Ballanco says. “Many of our members are already in the forefront showing homebuilders how to design and install low-cost systems. We will provide the tools necessary to design and install low-cost residential sprinkler systems that protect the public.”

“There are approximately 3,000 fire deaths a year in residential buildings and three times the number of people severely burned or disfigured from residential fires,” Ballanco says. “In my opinion, this is unacceptable, especially since we, as plumbing engineers, have the technology to prevent these fire deaths and burn victims.”