Fifth biennial IETS: smart plumbing design; mitigate risk; save some money along the way

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The room was filled with some of the brightest people in the plumbing industry, as more than 120 industry experts, water utility and academia participants attended the fifth International Emerging Technology Symposium (IETS) last month in Rosemont, Ill.

“We were thrilled with the high quality of presentations, and the experience and expertise that were brought to the 2016 International Emerging Technology Symposium by our speakers,” said IAPMO Group CEO Russ Chaney. “These biennial symposiums have grown into a successful and useful gathering of experts from academia, engineering, manufacturing, labor, codes and standards development, as well as test laboratories from throughout the world.”


Tim Keane, Marc Edwards and Jamie Bartram sit in on a panel on mitigating pathogen risk in plumbing systems.


Co-convened by nine major mechanical alliances — the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH), the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO®), the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association (PHCC), Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI), the United Association (UA), and the World Plumbing Council (WPC) — the event gathered nearly 30 respected experts in the fields of water, energy efficiency, plumbing and civil engineering, and microbiology to discuss their areas of expertise.

The featured topics included Opportunistic Pathogens in Premise Plumbing: The prime directive of the plumbing industry is to design and install safe water supply and sanitary systems for our nation’s buildings. However, water scarcity resulting from persistent drought and declining water quality are causing problems that the plumbing trade, plumbing engineers, building and facility managers, health officials, and even the public-at-large need to be aware of in order to mitigate the potential for opportunistic pathogens to thrive in premise plumbing and infect at-risk building occupants.

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Pete DeMarco (c), presents a birthday cake to Stephanie Tanner (l) of the EPA’s WaterSense, marking the 10th anniversary of WaterSense. The Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Mary Ann Dickinson participates.


The two-day symposium addressed a diverse spectrum of water and sanitation issues, including: “Innovation in Urban Onsite Water Reuse” by Paula Keyhoe, director of Water Resources, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission; “Sustainable Water Reclaim Systems” by Jonathan Gray, CPD, Principal, Interface Engineering; “Estimating Peak Water Demands in Buildings with Efficient Fixtures” by Steven Buchberger, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Cincinnati; “Plumbing Technologies from Down Under” by Jeff Patchell, publisher, Connection Magazines Pty Ltd – Australia; “Advancing Energy Efficiency in Urban Water Systems” by Lorraine White, GEI Consultants; “Common Mistakes in Managing Legionella in Large Buildings” by Janet E. Stout, PhD, director, Special Pathogens Laboratory; and “Water Quality, Water Savings and Water-Energy Nexus – Three Issues, One Solution?” by Tim Keane, Consulting Engineer, principal, Legionella Risk Management, Inc.; Gary Klein, president, Gary Klein and Associates, Inc.; Dr. Marc Edwards, professor, Virginia Tech.


CONTRACTOR magazine’s Bob Mader moderates a Q&A panel discussion.


“The water and energy conservation communities have seen the technological advancements being made in our industry over each two-year period of this symposium, dating back to the first International Emerging Technology Symposium conducted in 2008. These advancements have presented society with safer and more reliable water supplies, and sanitation protocols are being presented in a safe and sustainable manner,” said Chaney.

Highlights from the 2016 IETS:

  • A compelling Q&A panel discussion—moderated by CONTRACTOR Editorial Director Bob Mader, hosted Dr. Mark Edwards, Virginia Tech University; Dr. Jamie Bartram, The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina; Dr. Janet Stout, Special Pathogens Laboratory; Tim Keane, consulting engineer, principal Legionella Risk Management; Gary Klein, president, Gary Klein and Associates; and Dr. Andrew Whelton, associate professor, Purdue University, as they discussed mitigating opportunistic pathogen outbreaks from water in premise plumbing systems.
  • Bill Gauley, P.E., principal, Gauley Associated, Ltd.’s presentation “First — Do No Harm” conveyed that overbuilding as not good engineering. “We can’t keep going down this road of oversizing. We need to start designing systems as if it is our own money,” said Gauley.
  • “Estimating Peak Water Demands in Building with Efficient Fixtures” by Buchberger revealed that an IAPMO/ASPE/WQA task group recently completed a draft report on estimating peak water demands in residential buildings fitted with efficient fixtures. The draft report proposes a new probability-based method similar in principle to Hunter’s Curve for determining peak water demands.  The new method replaces fixture units with probability of fixture use. “The Hunter’s Curve is often faulted for giving overly-conservative designs,” said Buchberger.
  • Dr. Michael Gormley, Institute for Building and Urban Design, The School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Scotland presented “Toilets, Turbulence and Public Health” in which he stated, “Our approach to engineering design must be flexible and robust enough to deal with major challenges facing our society.”
  • Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO for the Alliance for Water Efficiency, in her presentation, “Water Policy and New Technology: Examining the Connection” stated that water hasn’t been a major topic in a presidential election since 1936. “Water needs a federal champion,” said Dickinson. Perhaps, based on recent events with the drought in California and the tragedy in Flint, Mich., this election could be different.
  • The symposium included another fascinating panel discussion on “Hot Water System Efficiency and Research” featuring Gary Klein, president, Gary Klein and Associates; J. Joe Scott, CPD, FASPE, vice president and senior plumbing designer for Cannon Design; Jerry Calahan, CEO, Heatworks; David Epstein, President, Orbital Systems. “We have to understand how the physics in the plumbing works,” reported Klein.
  • Celebrating its 10-year, lead engineer at EPA’s WaterSense, Stephanie Tanner, was presented a “birthday cake” in recognition of all of WaterSense’s efforts — it has helped U.S. consumers save more than 1.1 trillion gallons of water — more than the amount of water used by all the households in Texas for a year. WaterSense also has helped reduce the amount of energy needed to heat, pump and treat water by 146 billion kilowatt hours and has eliminated 54 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions — the equivalent of planting nearly 1.4 billion trees.
  • The discussion with Keane, Klein and Edwards reiterated the fact that good engineering can provide cost effective and simple solutions without conflicting unintended consequences to the issues of Legionella, scald prevention, energy and water conservation.

“With high-profile issues such as the Flint lead crisis and the increase in reported legionellosis events, industry experts are placing a higher degree of focus on the unintended consequences of water and energy conservation,” Chaney said.

Perhaps the new rallying cry for the industry should be this: smart plumbing design; mitigate risk; save some money along the way.




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