This is part one of a two-part episode in which we’ll be speaking about plumbing resiliency with Dave Viola, CEO of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO); Billy Smith, executive director and CEO of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE); and Kerry Stackpole, executive director and CEO of Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI).
This week, we'll continue our conversation on plumbing resiliency and take a look at the big-picture impact that plumbing has on public health and safety.
Viola has more than 30 years’ experience as an international executive with an emphasis on water, resilience, safety and efficiency. He took over as IAPMO's chief executive officer on Jan. 1 after serving as chief operating officer for more than six years. He has been with IAPMO since 2007. Prior to joining IAPMO, he served as the technical director for PMI, where he oversaw education, code and product standard development, product certification, and water efficiency.
To learn more about IAPMO, visit https://www.iapmo.org.
Smith has served ASPE as the executive director and chief executive officer since Feb. 1, 2015. ASPE is an international organization for professionals skilled in the design, specification and inspection of plumbing systems. In 2012, Smith was bestowed the society's highest honor by being inducted into the college of fellows and received ASPE’s Distinguished Service Award. As executive director and CEO, he is responsible for the administration, management and financial operations of ASPE, as well as implementing the policies and procedures established by its board of directors. Smith continues to build and maintain relationships with other industry organizations to ensure that the public's health and safety are kept at the forefront of legislation and regulations.
To learn more about ASPE, visit https://www.aspe.org.
Stackpole is executive director and CEO of PMI, a trade association for manufacturers providing 90% of plumbing fixtures and fittings in North America, and representing more than 150 different brands. Previously, he was an advanced lead for the Executive Office of the President of the United States in Washington, D.C. He is a certified association executive and Fellow of the American Society of Association Executives. Stackpole is a graduate of the United States Chamber of Commerce Institute of Organization Management and he earned a master's degree in education from Cambridge College.
To learn more about PMI, visit https://www.safeplumbing.org.
To learn more about “The Authority Podcast” and to subscribe on your podcast app of choice, visit https://www.iapmo.org/theauthoritypodcast.
Christoph Lohr: Welcome to this week's episode of “The Authority Podcast: Plumbing & Mechanical.” This is part one of a two-part series where I’ll be speaking about plumbing resiliency with Dave Viola, CEO of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials – also known as IAPMO; Billy Smith, executive director and CEO of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers – also known as ASPE; and Kerry Stackpole, executive director and CEO of Plumbing Manufacturers International – also known as PMI.
This week, we're going to continue our conversation of plumbing resiliency. We started discussing this framework that falls underneath the umbrella of plumbing resiliency, where we have multiple variables that we have to work on, trying to find ways to balance as often these variables interact with each other.
Hopefully some of our listeners, what maybe has become clear to you, is that plumbing is complex. It needs expertise and it needs specialization. And with that in mind, we've gathered a fantastic panel here today of a number of representatives that can give us that big picture impact that plumbing has on public health and safety.
First off as part of our panel is Dave Viola, CEO of IAPMO. Dave has more than 30 years’ experience as an international building plumbing, HVAC codes, standard product certification and trainings executive with an emphasis on water, resilience, safety and efficiency. Dave Viola took over as IAPMO’s chief executive officer on January 1st after serving as chief operating officer for more than six years and has been with IAPMO since 2007.
Prior to joining IAPMO, Dave served as the technical director for the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute for nine years, where he oversaw education, code and product standard development, product certification and water efficiency activities. His notable industry involvement includes current deputy chairman and executive board member of the World Plumbing Council, chairman of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers A112 committee on plumbing, founding director for the Alliance for Water American, World Health Organization, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And it's worth noting that Dave received the American Society of Sanitary Engineers’ Fellow Award, and holds a mechanical engineering degree from Northern Illinois University.
Dave, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast.
Dave Viola: Pleasure to be here with you today, Christoph. Really looking forward to a great discussion with two of the most distinguished leaders in our industry, and that is Billy and Kerry. So looking forward to it. Thanks.
Lohr: Thanks Dave. And with that, let me introduce our next panelist, Billy Smith, who is the executive director and CEO of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers.
Billy Smith has served the American Society of Plumbing Engineers as the executive director and chief executive officer since February 1st, 2015. The American Society of Plumbing Engineers, ASPE, is the international organization for professional skilled and the design specification and inspection of plumbing systems.
ASPE is dedicated to the advancement of the science of plumbing engineering, to the professional growth and advancements of its members, and health, welfare, and safety of the public. In 2012, Billy was bestowed the society's highest honor by being inducted into the College of Fellows, FASPE. Also in 2012, I believe received ASPE’s distinguished service award.
Billy joined ASPE in 1993 as an affiliate member and is currently a full member of the society. He assumed a leadership role in 2002, when he was appointed to the ASPE board of directors as society affiliate liaison, and during his tenure, that position evolved into an elected board position as vice president affiliate.
Billy Smith also served as chair of ASPE’s advisory committee for several years as executive director and CEO. Billy is responsible for the administration, management and financial operations of the society, as well as implementing the policies and procedures established by the ASPE board of directors.
Billy provides the professional administrative and management support and financial expertise to ask these local chapters and for all society activities and programs. Billy continues to build and maintain relationships with other industry organizations to ensure that the public's health and safety are kept at the forefront of legislation and regulations regarding plumbing system, design, installation, inspections, and maintenance. Billy, thanks for joining us as well.
Billy Smith: Thank you very much, Christoph. What a pleasure it is to be here with everyone today and to have the opportunity to work alongside Dave and Kerry and yourself, Christoph, in speaking to the industry about resiliency. Thank you for having me.
Lohr: Absolute pleasure, Billy. And last, but certainly not least, we have Kerry Stackpole, who's the chief executive officer and executive director of Plumbing Manufacturers International, the management trade association for manufacturers providing 90% of plumbing, fixtures and fittings in North America representing more than 150 different brands. Previously, Kerry was an advanced lead for the Executive Office of the President of the United States in Washington, D.C.
He is a certified association executive and fellow of the American Society of Association Executives, a graduate of the United States Chamber of commerce Institute of Organization Management. He earned a master's degree in education from Cambridge College. Kerry, it is an absolute pleasure to have you on here.
Stackpole: Well, Christoph, thanks so much. It's great to be with you. And of course it's always great fun to be in the company of Dave and Billy. So I'm looking forward to a great conversation.
Lohr: Thank you. Well with that, let's go ahead and start the conversation. Bill. You mentioned it during your brief remarks here at the beginning, and that is, you know, plumbing resiliency.
And that's what I kind of discussed as we were coming into this conversation. And in this podcast’s first season, we're talking about a lot of the different components of plumbing resiliency. And so I think, you know, we talked about sustainability and water safety, you know, this concept of affordability and equity.
We talk about the water efficiency or plumbing efficiency in general. You know, there's all these different components of that, that impact plumbing systems. But what is it about plumbing resiliency that does differentiate itself from building resiliency? And Dave, let me start with your thoughts on that as far as why plumbing resiliency is different from building resiliency and then we'll go from there.
Viola: Well, thanks Christoph. First, talking about what is building resilience, the issue is simple and we've heard about it a lot. It's almost getting to the point where a greenwashing – when the green revolution took hold early in 2000. It’s almost like there’s resiliency washinging. And so there’s a need to understand what it covers and then, how it is different from plumbing. Basically, it’s withstanding, recovering from natural disasters. That’s been what historically has been resilience and certainly plumbing.
Systems need to do that. But beyond that, as you pointed out, there is the need for the proper materials and the connections and the anchorage and fire stopping and backflow, all the things that make plumbing systems tough and sturdy in the face of natural disasters. But you alluded to the fact that there’s something more complex that goes well beyond that, and that’s sustainability and efficiency. That’s certainly more and more important as the world deals with important things like water quality and water scarcity, and infrastructure is crumbling. You know, the climate change, reducing the amount of water we have to deal with the frequency of disruptions that are occurring, seems like daily now.
And the population growth, not just the United States, but around the world is impacting the ability to have sustainable plumbing systems. So there is this need to address all those aspects beyond just the customary with standard recover from plumbing systems and there needs to be emphasis on the things that we’re involved in to keep pace with these resiliency demands, you know, updated codes that safely and efficiently optimize water and deal with the proper health and safety standards, a robust conforming assessment scheme that makes sure that the products that are entering into commerce are actually performing as they’re intended.
And then an up-to-date training that keeps our plumbing professionals aware of the new technologies and the urgent issues that impact resiliency and sustainability. I mean, those are all the things that are embedded in my opinion, in the plumbing resiliency quotient.
Lohr: Definitely. Definitely. I guess, you know, there’s obviously the component and Dave, I’m glad you brought up that, that concern of scarcity, because I live in Phoenix, Arizona, and we’re staring down that challenge and that big, hairy monster right in the face.
But obviously there’s a lot of different entities that fall under plumbing, and manufacturers are one of them. Kerry, can you speak at least a little bit how manufacturing is looking at sort of this concept of plumbing resiliency as you interface with a lot of those members?
Stackpole: Yeah, sure, I'd be happy to. A lot has changed for manufacturers, especially in a, I’ll call it a COVID-19 world. And we've been talking about this a fair amount among manufacturers, and resiliency for manufacturers has a lot to do with kind of protecting their own teams, starting with making sure the workplaces I’ll say are clean and orderly, that they’ve got those who can’t work from home and, on the factory lines are wearing masks and socially distancing, making sure they’re, using appropriate hand hygiene in the manufacturing plants and so forth.
And then there’s, of course, the disruption caused by having to really relocate members of manufacturing teams home during the COVID-19 period. And it’s been interesting to watch the industry adjust and to watch their teams adjust. And you see it in a couple of different places. For example, COVID-19 really did a job, frankly, on supply chains.
And as lockdowns came about finding materials, keeping the flow of products to and from manufacturing facilities, became a large issue overall. And at the same time, the demand for innovative products, right? And some products that I think are pretty mainstream, well, increasingly things like touchless faucets and toilets, all the demand for those products has risen exponentially and consumers are looking for ways to step up the quality and the experience of homes, because that’s where they're spending 99% of their time during a COVID pandemic. So it’s a whole series of things, but they're all, as I say, pretty different for manufacturers.
Lohr: Yeah, that's a great point, Kerry. I think we'll probably need to circle back around to that during our conversation. Frankly, my observation, when I've been out in society, whether it’s at an ASPE conference or interfacing with various members, now that I’ve been working with IAPMO, is there’s so much change in from plumbing manufacturers as far as new products and everything coming to market.
So it’s been really interesting to see, but I don’t want to forget about my friend Billy Smith, because I think you bring a unique perspective, Billy. And that is that there’s this kind of this interface that engineering plays between, manufacturing and install and everywhere else.
And Billy, can you speak on that and how that plays into this concept of plumbing resiliency?
Smith: Absolutely Christophe. And it was interesting and valuable to hear input from both Dave and Kerry, but specifically to this from the plumbing engineering or design professional perspective and drawing in everything that we know about products from the manufacturers and how the contractor is going to take that and manage the installation. And the inspectors are so involved, but specifically for the plumbing engineer and designer it’s most important to design the overall system based around more than just the engineer’s thoughts about the entire facility, but to also include the product design and capabilities provided through, as we’ve spoken about, the manufacturers of the said products and how best those products would be installed within the facility design. And ASPE recognizes that its plumbing engineer and designer and the professional engineer alike have a shared interest in the objective that plumbing and mechanical systems are designed in a manner that safeguards public health and safety.
That’s what our purpose ultimately is, protecting public health and safety. Plumbing designs of today have advanced beyond the simple “cold on the right and hot on the left, and everything flows downhill” mentality. And we can see that the rapid changes in technologies and standards and codes create a need among the members of our industry and our society specifically for increased awareness and education regarding the emerging technical and scientific legislative, and also regulatory developments in the world marketplace. Even though today’s plumbing systems remain out of sight, out of mind, it remains the most, in our opinion, the most important and demanding infrastructure of a commercial facility of any size. Plumbing systems continue to evolve and advance ever so quickly, becoming more complex with the use of today’s technology and new materials that Kerry spoke of as well, and the innovations and the move to bring about more attractive facilities, safer facilities, healthy, efficient, and flexible for today's facilities, its occupants and also the operators. Now, one of the things that was touched on by Dave and Kerry, both from the plumbing engineer and design professional, it’s most important in selecting the proper products, understanding how product standards and local codes or changes to those codes can also affect the design is of utmost importance, followed by proper installation and maintenance thereof.
Now, with this mindset, we see the thought process of bringing the overall facility designed together for the plumbing design engineer, the manufacturer, the contractor, and its backers through completion of the project. Now, if we’ve done everything that I’ve spoken about successfully, then in the opening of a new project or the updating of a project, we’ve had so many facilities stand dormant for so long during the pandemic.
If we do all of this correctly, everything should go smoothly. And the long-term resiliency needs of a plumbing system would have been accomplished.
Lohr: Definitely, Billy. Well, and actually that kind of gets me thinking there’s a systems-level approach that’s needed. And I think engineering definitely, and experts have a very big part to play to making sure that everything works together.
There’s a quote that, as you were talking to Billy, that it reminded me of, and that was AWWA CEO, David LaFrance. And he has this quote that says, “People think that water is simple, but it is very complex.” And, and I’ve actually talked about this in several of my seminars that I’ve given in the past where I’ve kind of modified the quote to say that “People think that plumbing is simple, but it is very complex.” And you touched on that. How is it complex from maybe a little bit more of a quick level of technical complexity? Billy can you give us some short examples here?
Smith: Oh, absolutely. You know, one prime example of the complexity of the plumbing system design can be brought about relative to just maintaining proper hot water temperatures and proper float within all commercial systems, whether they be a high-rise installation or also smaller commercial facilities.
Plumbing engineers have solved the first problem of getting adequate flows and temperature management to the upper floors of high-rise facilities. But of course then comes the management as well as getting the resulting wastewater back down, but managing hot water temperatures is so important and two specific points can be troublesome as they draw this point into two separate directions.
One being to keep water temps high enough for the projection against growth of waterborne pathogens, such as Legionella, while the second is to control the water temperatures at such a level to also protect against scalding of bathers. And it’s interesting that we see this, as I had an opportunity several years ago to speak at a conference in London and this was specifically what they wanted to hear about the differences in how the plumbing engineer and the professional engineers manage that process of designing a holistic system to protect against waterborne pathogens’ growth while also maintaining a protection to bathers. So this is very complex.
People do not realize just how so.
Lohr: Definitely. Well, and it's on that note, that sort of technical nature note. One of the things when I came on board, Dave – that I was aware of before, was the water demand calculator. And you kind of introduced me to that concept of complexity of plumbing. Do you want to touch base and kind of talk on that a little bit?
Viola: The Water Demand Calculator. Well, that is an interesting subject in and of itself Christoph, and it is interconnected with everything that we’ve been talking about, the complexity of plumbing, you know, everything is interconnected. You take a step backwards in thinking about water assumption and how plumbing fixtures have been used over the last 80 years.
They have changed dramatically. Think about a home 80 years ago. Typically that would be one bathroom serving households could be up to five, six, seven people, where nowadays houses might have three or four bathrooms. And so each of those bathrooms may be used by less people, household of 3.7 people. So those fixtures are not used as often.
And then we’ve got reduction in water conservation. The conservation changes from 40 to 75% of water used from 80 years ago to today. So there’s dramatic reduction in the amount of water that’s coming out of those fixtures and fittings. And how many times a day fixtures are used are changing significantly, but what’s been a big problem is the water sizing methodologies used around our industry have not changed and kept pace with the changing of how homes and plumbing systems may use or how much water comes out of them.
Well, that has changed significantly with the Water Demand Calculator that you mentioned. The Water Demand Calculator was a collaboration with ASPE, Water Quality Association and University of Cincinnati to really roll up our sleeves and identify the right use patterns, what’s going on out there, and measuring water usage in cities and buildings for quite a bit of time, taking that data and then altering the curves that we had used to project our sizing methodologies, and come up with a new solution that does properly sized systems today to deal with how you bring water service into a building, how the branches feed individual fixtures and bathroom groups and other aspects of plumbing. So that has a major impact on things like energy and water consumption.
When you have a proper size plumbing system, you have less water aging in the piping system. Less water aging means that there’s less stagnation, less chance for waterborne pathogens to start growing and incubating. Of course, you’ve got the inconvenience of slower hot water delivery to outlets. And then of course, when there’s more water coming out while you’re waiting for hot water to be delivered because you’ve got oversized pipes, that is an increase in energy and water consumption.
So the Water Demand Calculator is a major update to codes and standards today. And it has an impact on everything from water quality to energy and water consumption. So, thanks for bringing that up, because that is a very important advancement that we're making.
Lohr: And one of the things I’m sitting there thinking of as we have this, like these so many nuances within technical that Billy and Dave, you guys did such a great job describing.
I think we also can easily forget that we’re part of a bigger ecosystem, which is the global economy. And I imagine that Kerry may have some thoughts on some of the global economic impact on things that make plumbing systems more complex as well. Can you speak to that a little bit, Kerry?
Stackpole: Sure. Be happy to. You know, I think Dave and Billy really did a great job of illuminating the complexity of our systems.
And you know, when you think about manufacturers, I don’t think the consumer necessarily thinks about the high level of compliance that manufacturers go through to make sure they’re meeting codes and standards that are agreed to. And I have to say that when the prior administration implemented tariffs on a variety of plumbing products and components, we saw that complexity come to life when certain materials are not no longer available or only available at an increased cost.
And what that impact was, I think, as we looked at, it was something on the order of about $56 billion in additional costs and came out to about an average of $1,277 per family. And when you took tariffs and you couple it up alongside the pandemic, you’ve definitely got some restrictions. And there’s other interesting things. For example, I think many of us will remember the Texas freeze when they had extraordinarily cold weather and they lost electricity.
Well that shut down some of the oil facilities in Texas, which then resulted in less raw material available to make plastics and polymers and so forth, which then created shortages elsewhere in the supply chain. So there's really that kind of large integration. And most of us, like I say, I don’t think most of us think about it that much, but I certainly have had the experience.
I mean, one of the things PMI does on an ongoing basis in partnership with IAPMO and asked me and others is we do a lot of work in the space of advocacy and kind of going to government and saying, “Wait a minute, you’ve got a great idea, but it needs to be tweaked in order for it to really make sense in a complex world.”
And it's interesting because the reality is that a lot of folks do not understand the complexity of plumbing, plumbing materials, and what it takes to really put a high-functioning, safe, reliable, high-performing system together. So terrorists were a good example of, from my perspective, of illuminating those. I certainly have some hope the Biden administration will work to end those terrorists, but I think that will be a bit of a slow process going forward.
Lohr: You know, on that note of kind of the bigger picture and kind of government involvement. Let me bounce this next question off of you first, Kerry. What are some of the biggest challenges facing plumbing? Maybe you can provide, based on your observations, some of the advocacy and policy and government responses to those challenges.
Stackpole: Sure. Yeah. We've been kind of looking at, I think all of us look at that big picture on an ongoing basis, which is really a great thing because it means that these issues get the attention they deserve. But if you think about it, I think it’s been probably a decade or more, the American Society of Civil Engineers.
No has been calling attention to the need to upgrade our nation’s water infrastructure. You know, they publish the infrastructure report card. I think this most recently we’ve moved from a D plus to a C minus in terms of water infrastructure. That’s probably encouraging, but I do think that as we look forward, there’s a lot of work to be done.
And you can certainly see, I think President Biden has called it the American Jobs Act. And a lot of that is focused on water infrastructure, which is from my perspective and our perspective as an industry, I think is a positive thing. It’s got some other pieces that obviously I think will be eventually arm wrestled into shape.
But when I think about things that I have a lot of concern with — and I think most Americans have concerns with this — I think about service lines and how much lead we still have in the ground and the risks that poses for communities. I certainly think there’s a plan to replace all of those lines, which is in the president's proposal and is a huge plus. Frankly, you know, it’s kind of like time we need to get there.
I think it was Utah State University that did a study and said something along the lines of, at the rate we’re currently replacing pipe in the ground it’s a 125-year plan. And there’s no reason that can't be accelerated and that we can’t make sure that we’re providing access to running water and basic indoor plumbing in every American home, including those underserved communities.
So, yeah, from a big picture, I think there's a lot of work to be done on the federal water infrastructure level.
Lohr: Great points, Kerry, on your point about making sure that all folks can have water and sanitation. In my mind, that goes right to one of those big policy challenges, which is affordability and equity of plumbing systems for all folks.
So that’s definitely that big-picture component, but let’s kind of go to the other extreme and I’m sure, Billy, you’ve probably, with all the conversations with ASPE members, there's a lot of concern on complexity and some of the big challenges that are facing plumbing. So what are the biggest challenges facing plumbing that plumbing engineers are thinking about?
Smith: Christoph, before I get too deep into just that portion of it, this question, “What are the biggest challenges facing plumbing?” is just spot on for where that question is and our podcast today, and also drawing upon all the very valuable information that both Dave and Kerry have provided leading up to this question.
And as part of this question, I have the unique viewpoint from having spent 30-plus years on the manufacturing side, working closely with both IAPMO and PMI alike in codes and standards and advocacy and product certification and overall design of systems. And now also in a leadership role of ASPE, a plumbing engineer association.
So this just covers so much valuable information. And it’s a very interesting question for the plumbing engineer and designer, especially considering the continuous, when you focus specifically on the continued reduced flushing flow volumes, because the plumbing engineer and professional engineer are looking at designing the entire system, not just portions there up.
So the further reduction that we have in flushing flow volumes brings about its own complexities and issues. And in our industry, especially from a design perspective. And for many years, this particular point has been problematic. And for the holistic view of the engineering design of plumbing systems, for the perspective of what this specific system is required to do properly, to keep everything operating efficiently and safely, a focus on compliance with regulations and standards always helps raise expectations for properly managing waterborne pathogens during design, construction, and operation of the building water systems, including, but not limited to facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, large sporting events, hotels, where you have so many people involved there. There’s got to be enough water in that system to make it work properly; for the plumbing system to work properly, the facility will need enough water volume with the facilities plumbing system to maintain proper flow.
Therefore, being able to remove all the waste or contaminants properly and, you know, liabilities on both sides of the fence here, the building owner, and also the engineering community. There's always a concern when you're focusing these kinds of continued reductions, but also the risk that we have with everything going on now, after COVID-19.
We’re still … the pandemic is in play, but all the longtime focus on waterborne diseases, Legionella – the plumbing engineer can and should take proper steps to minimize both the owner’s risk as well as mitigate the engineer’s risk. So it's a very important question specific this time, but challenges facing our industry specifically to plumbing,
Lohr: Great points, Billy, and having been a plumbing engineer myself and having been engineer of record on several jobs, that’s why I’m certainly acutely aware of it and would agree. It’s definitely a challenge for plumbing engineers to kind of balance all those things. You know, obviously PMI and ASPE are representative of two very key components of the plumbing industry, manufacturing and engineering and design.
Dave, maybe you can speak a little bit about maybe some of the things that IAPMO has done to kind of support both of those groups within the plumbing industry, you know, to kind of help face those challenges.
Viola: Sure, Christoph. I think before I tackle that one … in thinking about Kerry and Billy’s responses to the question about the challenges facing the plumbing industry, Kerry talked about the policy issues, so one of the things I’ll point out that we’ll all need to be paying attention to is the political will for policymakers and lawmakers to make speedy decisions based on all of these drastic shifting priorities that are occurring these days.
States and cities and federal governments are under duress because of the financial hardships and trying to stimulate growth and trying to protect their citizens and social equity issues. There may be a circumventing of traditional vetting processes, and dealing with policy changes in law changes in this could result in some very unwise and short-sighted changes.
So it’s going to keep the industry on our toes to make sure that thoughtful, safe changes are being made to confront these serious complex issues that are before us. So I just wanted to touch on that. And then there’s also a discussion briefly on water infrastructure. Kerry mentioned that there was a slight improvement in the report card for water infrastructure, but there are still massive amounts of inequity around the country. So as some areas are starting to invest and improving their infrastructure, replacing those lead pipes, getting rid of the leaks, proper sizing of the systems, there are still huge areas of the country that don’t even have access to water at all.
The Navajo Nation and other areas of the country, the Deep South, where they got open-pipe drainage systems dumping into their yards. And intermittent supplies in Appalachia where they’re not getting water 100% of the time. There are still Fs out there on our report cards in many areas of the country.
So there’s so much work to be done, and the last thing that comes to mind as far as the challenges are concerned is the skills shortage. That’s been a dialogue industry for a long time. And we were just talking about how plumbing is more complex than it has ever been before.
And there’s a declining number of qualified plumbers and declining number of experienced plumbing inspectors. So those curved trajectories are going in the wrong direction. As the risks associated with more complex plumbing systems increases, the lack of qualified people to address those systems is going the other way.
We are in deep trouble if we don’t modify both of those trajectories. So you mentioned what is IAPMO trying to do well. Well, certainly we’re doing everything we can to keep our codes and standards forward facing and addressing the challenges that are facing our industry. We talked about the Water Demand Calculator.
IAPMO operates the American Society of Sanitary Engineering. We’ve got a professional qualifications program that’s geared toward the very specific strategically aligned competencies for individuals in the piping industry sectors to address issues like how to install properly alternate water source systems dealing with pathogens and plumbing systems and health-care facilities and other buildings, those types of things.
So we are trying to address the technical needs of those folks that need to be qualified to do this very important and complex work. So I think that’s three big subjects there that I touched on briefly, but I'll leave it back to you, Christoph.
Lohr: Great points, Dave. And you know, it gets me thinking too that there’s a little bit off script here, but I think there’s been a lot of things that IAPMO and ASPE and PMI, that we’ve kind of worked on together.
And one thought that I had is recently IAPMO and ASSE International provided letters in favor of the plumbing engineering examination option. I think it’s important for industry organizations to support each other. Billy, can you touch real quick on that, on that plumbing engineering exam option and what that working group is working on?
Smith: Absolutely. Christoph has a great point. And thanks for bringing that up. And yes, we also appreciate so much having IAPMO and ASSE International provide letters of support on that. And Christoph, you’ve been a tremendous help for our plumbing engineering working group that is taking that initiative full force forward.
And, you know, an interesting component to that is CES requires that anyone that’s wanting to add something to the test or a different component to the test must have 10 states’ professional engineering boards support that initiative. So fortunately, our working group with your assistance Christoph and many others have. Fortunately, we are standing at a last count. I think it's 11 and possibly 12 very soon. So we have the required 10 states and the efforts are now moving forward with Mr. David Dexter’s help, one of the chairs of the PE working group, to begin working with CES, to start developing a pool of questions, a large pool to help add a component to the current test, not a new test.
Mind you, just adding a portion to the existing test so that someone could sit for the PE exam and have plumbing be their discipline. So that’s a tremendous boost and a benefit for the plumbing engineering design professionals to have additional opportunities to sit to that test. There are so many PEs currently working in the industry that have disciplines in so many other components of the industry.
But yet they're spending all of their time on one of the, if not the, most complex portions of any facility. And that is the design based on the plumbing system that that entire system operates in to protect public health and safety. So it's such a valuable component. So thank you for bringing that up.
Christoph Lohr: That concludes part one of our two-part episode with Dave, Billy and Kerry. Join us next week when we’ll continue our conversation and discuss the biggest opportunities and challenges facing plumbing, harmonizing plumbing standards, and the problems with taking water for granted.