Working to Ensure 2022 is a Great Year for IAPMO and Our Members

IAPMO has maintained its strong commitment to health and safety throughout the past two years, always exercising an abundance of caution to protect our members and staff wherever and whenever possible. I’m extremely proud of our collective work in this regard.

That said, it was a great pleasure and truly like a breath of fresh air to participate in face-to-face IAPMO Board of Directors meetings in November and January — amazingly my first official in-person IAPMO events since becoming CEO. It was special to experience that personal connection once again after Zooming for two years.

IAPMO committees have started to meet in person again, as well. The Plumbing Certification and Standards Review committees held in-person meetings in December and January, so we’ve started getting things back to normal. We’re still being scrupulously safe and practical, threading the needle between bringing people back, addressing the need to network and create personal connection, while still looking out for everybody’s safety. We’ll continue to move forward in that manner throughout 2022.

These in-person gatherings weren’t just welcome-back meet-and-greets, of course — they got work done. The Board of Directors meetings, for instance, moved the ball forward on some exciting new membership initiatives. We discussed and advanced strategies for recruiting members, highlighting our committees’ work and soliciting member participation on them, and new procedures for nominating individuals for our annual awards. Our members — the people in the field doing the work every day — serve on our committees, help develop education, and assist the industry with answers and analysis; we want to highlight all that they do. You’ll see more of them in the magazine and on our social media.

In my last column, I mentioned code victories from Seattle to Maine and Minnesota to Texas. We’ve since added more with adoptions in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Cedric County, Kansas. Our Field Services and Government Relations departments work tirelessly behind the scenes with our members, partners and industry stakeholders, ensuring legislators and authorities having jurisdiction stay informed about the Uniform Codes and what makes them the superior choice.

These efforts aren’t always easy, as we’ve unfortunately seen again in New Jersey and elsewhere, where we continue to advocate strongly to adopt, maintain and update our codes. Recently the competition has launched another false narrative in an attempt to undermine confidence in our codes, this time making an untrue claim that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will not provide emergency funding to jurisdictions utilizing the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) or National Standard Plumbing Code (NSPC). We know this to be absolutely false, as many states and localities around the country protected by the UPC and NSPC have secured FEMA funding after devastating disasters. If you’re interested in reading more, our letter to stakeholders can be read here:

Speaking of our codes, development of the 2024 Uniform Codes continues in earnest, with respective technical committees advancing numerous proposals for inclusion in the updates.

The UPC continues to protect the health and safety of the public while improving the resiliency and sustainability of the plumbing system. As an example, a reference to ANSI/ CAN IAPMO Z1349-2021 was recently approved, which provides jurisdictions guidance for technologies that detect, control and monitor water systems, which is an important tool to prevent major structural damage and water waste through early leak detection.

Another instance where the UPC improves the efficient and sustainable use of water is through the inclusion of IAPMO IGC 324, recently approved by the UPC Technical Committee, which will facilitate the installation and operation of graywater treatment systems.

Geothermal is now a serious contender as an alternative energy solution. The Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC) Technical Committee recently approved the expansion of geothermal systems to include district systems. District systems permit “environmental neighborhoods” to share energy while maintaining control of their energy use. With the inclusion of geothermal district systems, wasted heat rejected by an office building’s AC system can be used by a neighboring residential development for preheating water, lowering the cost of energy, and reducing the district’s need to purchase new sources.

Another aspect of our industry on the cusp of more widespread interest is hydrogen as an alternative to fuel gas. It is essential for our industry to pay attention to decarbonization and how we manage fuel gas moving forward. We anticipate some major challenges for the plumbing industry, as fuel gas has been such an important part of the trade for a very long time. Understanding how we transition to alternatives such as hydrogen is going to be essential. IAPMO will play a leading role in that transition, both in terms of product testing and certification and a proactive approach to our codes. As hydrogen use expands here in North America, our codes will be positioned to regulate hydrogen as an alternative fuel.

As you know, IWSH seeks out opportunities where the knowledge, expertise and initiative of our industry can address inequities in access to clean water of safe sanitation for disadvantaged people both here and abroad. Despite significant hurdles faced by IWSH during the pandemic, I remain infinitely proud of the foundation and the creative ways it has continued to create positive, life-altering change community by community.

Lastly, World Plumbing Day — March 11, Every Year, Everywhere — is quickly approaching. I encourage each of you to find some small, but instrumental way to celebrate the event and bring awareness to our industry’s unparalleled contribution to humankind’s health and safety and the life-sustaining gifts we provide 365 days a year. We have a lot to be proud of!

My hope is by the time you read this the Omicron surge is long behind us and we’re already well on our way to an exciting, more normal 2022, including looking forward to our 93rd annual Education and Business Conference in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 11-15. Until my next column, take care and be well.