• The IAPMO Green Technical Committee convened its first meeting April 9 in Chicago to develop green plumbing, mechanical and solar codes. The committee was formed in the wake of a directive from IAPMO’s board of directors to mandate a minimum 10 percent reduction in energy and water use through code changes that require sustainable construction practices over the next three years.

    Among the plumbing issues to be considered by the new committee are: high-efficiency toilets and urinals; waterless and composting fixtures; prerinse spray valves; multiheaded shower systems; reduction in maximum water pressure; hot water distribution systems; sizing methods to accommodate reduced demand in water piping; and water reuse, which includes greywater, reclaimed water, rainwater harvesting and siphonic roof drain systems.

    On the list of mechanical issues to be addressed by the committee are: hydronic systems, including variable-speed pumps for large systems, zoning and balancing; ground-source heat pump systems; steam generators; boilers; co-generation; IAQ and ventilation efficiency; and environmentally safe refrigerants.

  • MCA of Chicago is moving its headquarters to a “green” building in the Chicago suburbs, complete with a state-of-art training facility. PM editors were invited to tour the building, which is still under construction, to see the application of Icynene, a foam insulation that will give the building envelope a tight seal. While the shell of the building was already built, MCA of Chicago is finishing the building with as many green options as it can, including a light-reflective roof, water-conserving fixtures, high-efficiency heating and energy-saving lighting. MCA of Chicago is vying for LEED Gold status from the USGBC.

  • The Green Mechanical Council announced the appointment of Ralph Avallone (international president of the Green Energy Council) to the Green Mechanical Council board. He is a strong proponent of “Smart Sustainable Growth” principles and is a founding member of the Green Energy Council and author of the GEC Smart Sustainable Growth Initiative, Builder Initiative and the GEC Shades of Green Initiative.

  • According to recent McGraw-Hill Construction market research investigating “green” home building (co-sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders), the residential green building market is expected to be worth $12 billion to $20 billion (6-10 percent of the market) this year. By 2012, the market is expected to double to 12-20 percent market share, or $40 billion to $70 billion.

    The study also found “quality” has emerged in this down market as the most important reason for building green. Previously, McGraw-Hill reported, builders were motivated by energy cost savings of green homes and doing the right thing, which still came in at No. 2 this year. This is likely due to green home marketing and how it improves quality of life.

  • The Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association created a new online resource for green builders and others looking for current information regarding green and sustainable plumbing and piping systems. The PPFA’s Sustainable Piping Systems Committee developed the Web site (www.plasticpiping.org/nahb).

    In addition to lists of pipe standards for greywater systems and high-efficiency hot water distribution systems, the PPFA site offers a large number of easy-access links to important green technology sites, including Toolbase.org, PATH, NAHB RC and governmental Web sites. Also included on the site are listings of PPFA’s Greenbuilding resources and PPFA’s policy of sustainable building.

  • Price Pfister announced that it has partnered with the EPA’s WaterSense program. The Ashfield collection of lavatory trough faucets is the first in a new lineup of Price Pfister product families designed to bear the WaterSense label. Ashfield lavatory trough faucets flow at a rate of 1.5 gallons per minute and are designed to reduce water consumption by 30 percent without compromising the consumers’ water experience.

  • American Standard has become the first founding partner of the GreenPlumbers USA training and accreditation program. GreenPlumbers USA offers training workshops and accreditation to plumbers and contractors throughout the United States. The program offers five workshops on climate care, water care, water recycling and conservation, and solar water heating.

    The program is open to all recognized plumbers and contractors. For more information, visit www.greenplumbersusa.com.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 7 recently developed fact sheets to inform plumbing, heating and cooling contractors who repair or replace mercury-containing gas regulators, pressure gauges, heat generators and thermostats about the health risks and liability issues associated with a mercury release (www.epa.gov/mercury/spills).

    The fact sheets describe how contractors can properly dismantle, contain and dispose of mercury-containing units. They also provide information on how to clean up mercury releases, health effects of a mercury release, who to contact if there are questions and how to report a release.

    According to the EPA, an increasing number of residential mercury releases have been reported: from mercury pressure gauges used to test gas lines and from some types of home thermostats; and from plumbers working on old heating systems, heat generators and mercury gas regulators.