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You know the value of every drop if you live in the golden state. Even though water usage is systematically managed, dry seasons affect California and the people who live there. Drought causes economic and environmental challenges – lost crops, fires, land degradation, animal survival, and the list goes on. Caltech, the world renowned science Read More

You know the value of every drop if you live in the golden state. Even though water usage is systematically managed, dry seasons affect California and the people who live there. Drought causes economic and environmental challenges – lost crops, fires, land degradation, animal survival, and the list goes on.

Caltech, the world renowned science and engineering institute in Pasadena, has a deep understanding of the changing hydrologic cycle in California and recognizes the importance of being a responsible steward of water resources. It’s committed to becoming more efficient in its water use, while maintaining the capability to conduct its core mission of research and education.

For Caltech, change starts with conversation and leads to action. The institute’s plumbing shop regularly retrofits its water systems, from cooling towers to plumbing fixtures. But even with its own in-house experts, Caltech needed more bandwidth to make a campus-wide upgrade happen. Fortunately, opportunity and timing aligned.

The City of Pasadena Water & Power approached Caltech about its water conservation programs. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, regional water supply wholesaler, teamed up with PWP to offer water saving services and valuable rebate incentives. It’s truly local government and the business sector working together to bring smarter water solutions at a more affordable upfront cost.
Group Effort is Greater Reward

Zurn’s Z5775 OmniFlo™ Urinal with ZTR Sensor Flush Valve

The water conservation team visited Caltech’s impressive 124-acre campus. With oversight from the institute’s plumbing experts, they completed the efficiency studies and offered water saving options, along with the calculated project costs after rebate and the return from future savings.

The institute decided to move forward with retrofitting its restroom urinals campus-wide. It would take time and resources, but the program rebate offset enough of the project costs for a faster payback. Not to mention, the project would benefit the institute and surrounding communities. Every flush from a urinal or toilet system uses gallons of water – water that is a shared, sourced resource in California.

“We completed smaller urinal retrofit projects consistently over the past several years, but we needed to really move the meter with regard to water consumption. The program fit our initiative and wouldn’t have been possible without collaborative effort by the whole project team,” said John Onderdonk, Director of Sustainability Programs at Caltech.

Highly efficient urinals optimize flow by using more power with less water. Muir-Chase Plumbing retrofitted Zurn Retrofit Pint urinal systems in every bathroom across campus. Today, Caltech’s upgraded urinals consume 87% less water than traditional 1.0 gpf, exceeding the LEED 30% threshold. The project results add up to saving 6,056,130 gallons of water and $42,393 per year. Caltech is already looking into future project investments, such as low-flow faucets and toilets. It’s a great effort set in motion by a diverse team—all with unique functions but the same water saving mission.

Installers find design and installation benefits from PEX plumbing system for micro apartments project The Interurban Lofts in Shoreline, Wash., just outside of Seattle, are part of a new housing trend for millennials looking for a hybrid approach to home life. These “apodments,” as they’re called, feature a unique setup of eight studio units per Read More

Installers find design and installation benefits from PEX plumbing system for micro apartments project

The Interurban Lofts in Shoreline, Wash., just outside of Seattle, are part of a new housing trend for millennials looking for a hybrid approach to home life. These “apodments,” as they’re called, feature a unique setup of eight studio units per “pod” with a full bathroom in each unit and a shared kitchen. Each unit is partially furnished with a bed, microwave and mini-fridge.

The community atmosphere targets university students, recent graduates, young professionals and even seniors with the purpose of giving individuals more affordable housing and the opportunity to spend money on experiences, not spaces.  

When planning the design for the six-story, 22,000-square-foot, 80-unit complex, the developers wanted a plumbing system that was efficient, durable and long-lasting, so they chose to go with PEX. Uponor’s design engineers and the Interurban Lofts project engineers worked in tandem to create an efficient system utilizing the flexible PEX piping along with ProPEX® expansion connections and multiport tees throughout.

The project used more than 10,000 ft. of Uponor AquaPEX® tubing to plumb the entire structure. For a few of the installers, it was their first time working with Uponor PEX. Thankfully, onsite training from the manufacturer gave them a short-lived learning curve.

“Once you’ve tried making a fitting two times, you’ve got it. It just becomes common sense,” said Roman Hudson, foreman at Wolfe Plumbing. “The Milwaukee M18™ FORCELOGIC™ ProPEX expansion tool operates the same as the smaller tool — just pull the trigger and let it go.”

The team appreciated the faster, easier installation with the Uponor PEX system, which included a lighter-weight solution compared to copper and other metallic piping.

“PEX is more forgiving and it’s lighter than copper,” said Hudson. “We used to use CPVC, stainless and copper pipes, but ProPEX fittings, man, it’s quick and fast. Once you started figuring it out, PEX is faster.”

The benefits didn’t stop there. With the design expertise from a manufacturer that’s been in the PEX industry for more than four decades, the project also reaped additional advantages beyond the installation.

“The cool thing about Uponor Design Services is, because it’s their product, they’ll push the engineering to the max,” said Bert Shepardson, commercial plumbing project manager at

Wolfe Plumbing. “That’s what allows us to use smaller pipe sizes and have more favorable installs.”

Washington—With more than more than 100 PHCC contractors, state and local chapter executives, and p-h-c industry partners descending on Capitol Hill last month for the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors (PHCC) Legislative Conference, the message is quite clear: the future starts now. PHCC National President Laurie Crigler set the tone for the event prior to meetings Read More

Washington—With more than more than 100 PHCC contractors, state and local chapter executives, and p-h-c industry partners descending on Capitol Hill last month for the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors (PHCC) Legislative Conference, the message is quite clear: the future starts now.

PHCC National President Laurie Crigler set the tone for the event prior to meetings on Capitol Hill, as p-h-c industry partners delivered a unified message to members of Congress about ongoing challenges that will have a long-term impact on the p-h-c industry and the country. “Politics is NOT a spectator sport and your involvement is key to successful advocacy at all levels—local, state and national. None of this works without you,” she said.

PHCC and its advocacy group on the steps of Capitol Hill.

Moreover, PHCC continues to educate members of congress of the tremendous opportunities within the plumbing and HVAC trades, “Part of the answer to job growth in this country has to be the continued development of the skilled trades. It’s not just talk anymore,” says Mark Riso, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, PHCC.

PHCC members expressed key support for workforce development through the Promoting Real Opportunity Success and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER). Riso added that he is happy with the “positive knowledge on Capitol Hill, as lawmakers continue to look at apprenticeship programs.”

Zach Boren, Director of Policy and Standards for the Office of Apprenticeship for the Department of Labor, shared the latest from the Department’s Task Force on Apprenticeship expansion. While citing statistics, Boren noted that more than six million jobs are unfilled and more than eight million workers lack the necessary credentials.  “Apprenticeships are the key to closing the nation’s skills gap as they are a customizable, flexible and proven business-driven model for developing workers,” Boren said.

PHCC vice president of Legislative Affairs, Mark Riso and PHCC president, Laurie Crigler.

In the coming months, the department will support innovative, work-based learning approaches, technology modernization, and state initiatives to expand apprenticeship programs. By modernizing the government’s role in apprenticeships while developing new programs, they expect to achieve President Trump’s goal of attracting one million new apprentices over the next five years. This fall, the Department of Labor will again host National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) to highlight the benefits of apprenticeship.

In addition to workplace development in the trades, during several events and meetings with Congressional members and their staff, PHCC members advocated for increased water system infrastructure spending, and career and technical education, while thanking congressional members for recently passed tax reform.

Rep. David Schweirkert (R-AZ)

PHCC also expressed support for workforce development though reauthorization of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). Members of Congress are aware of the country’s infrastructure problems, and Riso reiterates that they are not taking for granted the shape of the water systems in this country. “Flint was a wake-up call; we are impressed with members of the Hill’s knowledge of the degradation of the country’s water systems, and the steps needed to resolve the overall problem,” says Riso.

At the Congressional Breakfast, guest speaker Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) gave his insights into the president’s infrastructure initiative, stating, “We’ve been living off the infrastructure investments of our parents and grandparents, and haven’t been making the same investments (as they have).”  Costa added that Congress will need to figure out how federal components can help fund infrastructure improvements, “and this can only happen in a bi-partisan fashion.”

One of the highlights of this year’s conference was the annual Congressional Reception at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.  Several members of Congress including Rep. Steve Chabot, Rep. Tom O’Halleran and Rep. David Schweikert attended the reception and spoke in favor of PHCC’s support of WIFIA and the PROSPER Act.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)

Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), who serves on the House Ways and Means Tax Reform Subcommittee, gave a behind-the-scenes look at the complexities involved with passing the massive tax reform bill. “The first step was to pass tax reform,” he said. “The calculator won. Now we can start seeing some great things in our society.”

PHCC’s next legislative event in 2018 will be an education session at CONNECT 2018, “Decoded: Legislative and Regulatory Rules and Regulations Solved!” during which Riso and vice president of Regulatory Affairs Chuck White will explain the complex rules and regulations that keep contractors up at night. The next PHCC Legislative Conference is scheduled May 7-8, 2019, on Capitol Hill.

“PHCC is a conduit to help its members partner with lawmakers; to partner with the process to be able to design laws and rules to improve the quality of life for everybody,” says Riso.

 

St. Pauls, N.C.—Recently, members of the trade press were greeted by Watts Water Technologies executives for an exclusive tour of the company’s new Watts Works Learning Center. At the new, 3,000-sq.-ft. learning center, customers, channel partners, sales representatives, employees and other visitors can obtain hands-on and classroom training for a wide range of Watts products Read More

St. Pauls, N.C.—Recently, members of the trade press were greeted by Watts Water Technologies executives for an exclusive tour of the company’s new Watts Works Learning Center. At the new, 3,000-sq.-ft. learning center, customers, channel partners, sales representatives, employees and other visitors can obtain hands-on and classroom training for a wide range of Watts products and solutions, which include Orion chemical piping systems, BLÜCHER stainless steel drainage, Watts cast iron drainage, Watts rainwater harvesting solutions, and Mueller Steam Specialty products, among others.

 

From l to r: left to right: Andrew Windsor, Watts Senior Vice President, Sales – Watts; Mark Hamilton, VP Drains, Americas – Watts; Roberto Vengoechea, Senior VP, Fluid Solutions – Watts; Jackie Comiskey, Indirect Sourcing Manager – Watts; Dennis Fackler, Facility Engineer – Watts; John Palotta, Vice President, Carolinas Operations – Watts; Chris Jamieson, Vice President, Marketing & Business Development – Watts; Gerald Weindel, Mayor, St. Pauls NC; Greg Gyorda, Director, Customer & Employee Training – Watts.

“This newest world-class Learning Center is part of our ongoing investment in education and training for our customers and our commitment to remaining a leader in training the industry,” said Greg Gyorda, Director, Customer & Employee Training.

“Through the Watts Works learning program, we are helping customers enhance their knowledge of a broad range of plumbing, drainage, HVAC, and water quality solutions,” he said. “In our hands-on demonstration labs and comprehensive classes led by experienced instructors, customers are able to enrich their professional skills.”

While taking the tour of the 220,000-sq.-ft. St. Pauls facility, products such as drains, strainers, butterfly valves are made, and the assembly of the IntelliStation digital mixing system, seen here.

Visitors to the St. Pauls Center—located within the 210,000-sq.-ft. St. Pauls manufacturing facility that employs 220 people—can also tour the factory to production of Orion Chemical Piping Systems, the Powers IntelliStation Digital Mixing System, Watts Manifolds and RainCycle Rainwater Harvesting systems, Mueller Steam Strainers, Check Valves, and many other products.

A look into the hands-on learning center.

According to VP Carolina Operations, and tour guide for the day, John Palotta, Watts has made a tremendous investment in time and money with the new Center. “Success is reflected in the products and support, but all of that would be nothing without the people here,” says Parotta.

The St. Pauls Center is the third Watts Works Learning Center in the U.S., joining Centers in North Andover, Mass., and Woodland, Calif.

Chris Jamieson, Vice President, Marketing & Business Development, gives a brief history of the company to start the tour.

Today’s homes are becoming smarter and more efficient, thanks to the advancement of eco-friendly technologies and appliances—from tankless water heaters, low-flow toilets, to self-regulating thermostats. Homeowner Michael Craig, a huge proponent of this technological tide sweeping the country, wanted to upgrade his own 30-year-old residence in Lake Forest, Calif. “My wife and I are always Read More

Today’s homes are becoming smarter and more efficient, thanks to the advancement of eco-friendly technologies and appliances—from tankless water heaters, low-flow toilets, to self-regulating thermostats. Homeowner Michael Craig, a huge proponent of this technological tide sweeping the country, wanted to upgrade his own 30-year-old residence in Lake Forest, Calif.

“My wife and I are always looking for ways to incorporate advanced technology into our lives,” says Craig, himself a tech expert and owner of Bytelaunch, a digital marketing agency based in Orange County.

In particular, Craig zeroed in on replacing his storage tank water heater with something smarter and more efficient. “We had been considering installing a tankless water heater for a long time and kept the storage tank only because it had been brand new when we moved into our home,” recalls Craig. “After a few years, we were ready to pull the trigger.”

In the spring of 2017, he learned that Noritz had a tankless solution exceeding his expectations.

An EZ Solution

Craig decided to install the ENERGY STAR-certified EZ98-DV high-efficiency, condensing tankless water heater, designed to replace 50-gallon, storage-tank models directly. His installer, Jay Baril of Swift Water Heater, happened to be beta testing the unit for Noritz. The 0.97 energy factor of the EZ98 convinced him this was a green device he wanted in his home. “Unlike our old storage-tank water heater, which burned energy heating unused water, the EZ98 promised to fire only when we needed hot water,” explains Craig.

In addition to yielding energy savings, the EZ98 would bring Craig’s water heating system into the 21st century with its WiFi capability. By downloading the Noritz Connect app, he could take advantage of various remote functions, such as controlling the unit’s temperature and viewing error codes. “The mobile app was a big incentive for us because of our interest in the latest ‘internet of things’ innovations and smart-home trends,” says Craig.

Finally, the EZ98 unit’s direct-replacement design is intended to streamline hookup for installers swapping it in for a storage-tank unit:

  • Unlike traditional tankless models, which offer only bottom-mount water-supply connections, the EZ98 unit’s connections are top-mounted—just like on the storage-tank unit being replaced. This eliminates the need to run additional plumbing lines, saving time and labor on the water connections.
  • Venting options are also flexible, ranging from dual- or single-pipe (made of PVC or CPVC), to 2-inch Flex, which can be fed through the existing B-Vent.

Installer Baril opted for the 2-inch Flex for venting. He was also able to utilize the same half-inch gas line as the storage tank being replaced, avoiding the hassles and expenses of upsizing. The five-year industry veteran confirms that its configuration creates the potential for time savings.

“The engineers designing this unit put a lot of thought into streamlining the installation, which is always what plumbers look for in evaluating a new solution,” says Baril, who commonly works with storage tank heaters but was impressed with the tankless unit’s ease-of-installation. “The mounting bracket makes the unit easy to position, eliminating the need for a second installer. The top-mount connections are super easy and look very professional. The defining benefit for me, though, was the ability to use the existing B-Vent, not only in terms of saving time, but also because it means I never have to turn down an installation for lack of venting options.”

Comfort and Savings

Immediately after the installation, Craig reported low water pressure, which was later tied to a problem in the piping system and repaired. For its part, the EZ98 began heating the 1,800-square-foot home without issue, supplying hot water for three full bathrooms, a laundry room and a kitchen.

“The water pressure is now perfect, and the heat feels much more consistent across all our fixtures than previously,” says Craig, discussing the improved comfort he and his wife enjoy. “There are no more worries about running out of hot water in the middle of a shower, and the remote control with the wireless app is super-convenient, fitting right into our smart-home goals.”

The wall-hung unit also delivered one other key benefit: “The tankless water heater uses up much less real estate,” notes Craig. “We keep a washer and dryer in the same room, and now there’s more space to maneuver around these appliances.”

Last, but far from least, the switch to tankless is having a positive impact on Craig’s pocketbook. Since the EZ98 fires only on demand, the gas savings began to accrue from Day One. In 2016, with the storage tank heater, Craig’s monthly gas bill totaled an average of $17.19. In 2017, with the tankless water heater in place, the average monthly bill has decreased to $14.14. Estimates Craig, “We are saving an average of 17.7 percent on our monthly gas bill, largely due to tankless.”

In addition to the tankless water heater, Craig is gradually adding other smart, energy-efficient products to his lifestyle. He drives an electric car; has installed a thermostat that “learns” a user’s habits and adjusts accordingly; and has even considered adding solar energy to his home.

“Where others see a 30-year-old home, my wife and I see an opportunity to evolve into something greater and more sustainable,” explains Craig. “Who knows what we’ll upgrade next?”