The Authority Podcast: Plumbing and Mechanical

Episode 04: Rodolfo Perez & Dan Cole

May 25, 2021 IAPMO Season 1 Episode 7
The Authority Podcast: Plumbing and Mechanical
Episode 04: Rodolfo Perez & Dan Cole
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to this week's episode of The Authority Podcast: Plumbing & Mechanical. As we have all season long, we're going to continue our conversation of plumbing resiliency. On today's talk, we're going to focus on the overlap between water efficiency and well-being with Rodolfo Perez, Senior Director, Standard Development, for the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), and Dan Cole, Senior Director of Technical Services at the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).

Rodolfo Perez leads the Water and Materials concepts on the Standard Development team at IWBI. Before joining the International WELL Building Institute, Perez worked for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene after a career in startups, bringing nanoparticle based technologies from lab experiments to prototypes. He holds MS and PhD degrees in Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and undergraduate degrees in Industrial and Chemical Engineering and Aesthetics from the Catholic university of Chile.

To learn more about IWBI, visit

Daniel Cole is the Senior Director of Technical Services at IAPMO.
He was a licensed journeyman plumber in the state of Illinois and is currently a member of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers. He received the ASPE scientific achievement award in 2018. He has published several articles on Hunter's Curve and the fixture unit methodology. His research focus is on the plumbing investigations performed at the National Bureau of Standards, now NIST, with a particular interest in the work of Roy B. Hunter. He also has a focus on promoting water efficiency standards for the built environment.

To learn more about IAPMO, visit


Christoph Lohr: Welcome to this week's episode of The Authority Podcast: Plumbing & Mechanical. I'm your host, Christoph Lohr. As we have all season long, we're going to continue our conversation of plumbing resiliency. Plumbing resiliency is this topic that seems to be this combination of challenges that plumbing systems can see — things like safety and wellbeing, affordability and equity, seismic events, efficiency and efficacy of systems, and finally, sustainability. On today's talk, we're going to focus on this concept of the overlap between water efficiency and well-being. It was with great pleasure this week to have two friends and colleagues on the call today — one of which, I work with him and his organization on as the Well Water Advisor, and that is Rodolfo Perez.

Rudolfo leads the Water and Materials concepts on the Standard Development team at IWBI (International WELL Building Institute). Before joining the International WELL Building Institute, Perez worked for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene after a career in startups, bringing nanoparticle based technologies from lab experiments to prototypes.

He holds MS and PhD degrees in Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and undergraduate degrees in Industrial and Chemical Engineering and Aesthetics from the Catholic university of Chile. Rudolfo, thanks so much for joining me on the podcast. 

Rodolfo Perez: My pleasure. Happy to be here. Thanks.

Christoph Lohr: The second is a longtime colleague. We've collaborated on a few presentations and, and I probably have been bugging him via email for years. But it is my current colleague here at IAPMO, Daniel Cole. Daniel Cole is the Senior Director of Technical Services at the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, also known as IAPMO.

He was a licensed journeyman plumber in the state of Illinois and is currently a member of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers. He received the ASPE scientific achievement award in 2018. He has published several articles on Hunter's Curve and the fixture unit methodology. His research focus is on the plumbing investigations performed at the National Bureau of Standards, now NIST, with a particular interest in the work of Roy B. Hunter. He also has a focus on promoting water efficiency standards for the built environment. Dan, thanks so much for being on the podcast with me here today as well. 

Dan Cole: Well, thank you for the invite. And I look forward to discussing things with Rodolfo. 

Christoph Lohr: Me too. Me too. It's fun for me to see two different worlds that I've been involved with kind of come together. Really looking forward to our conversation here today. Well, with that, our first question at Rodolfo, and  let me ask you, you know, what is WELL, for our listeners here, and what is the International WELL Building Institute, also known as IWBI. What are their guiding principles? Can you give us some context on what WELL does?

Rodolfo Perez: Happy to do so, Christoph. At the International WELL Building Institute, our main premise is to put people first. And with that, we mean for us, we do some ratings towards evaluating places where we live, work, and play. We need to put people first and their health, and health understood that the combination of a social, physical and mental realization.

So in IWBI, we have the well building standard, which is our main way to convene what we tried to do and, you know, recognizing some areas where health is critical and one of them being of course water. I mean, without water won’t be here, first of all. I think ton this call or in this world. But you know, it's not only that, but also the air we breathe, the food we eat, how to basically provide the services that we need to actually to thrive in this world.

So that's what we're trying to embody in IWBI through the well building standard, in its second version right, WELL v2. 

Christoph Lohr: I love that line you had right as you first started, “ putting people first,” To me, that's something that is also parallel is what IAPMO does, our focus is public health and safety.

You know, maybe the language is a little bit different, but ultimately, I think we're saying the same thing to me. That's where you have the ability to have organizations that are making inroads and improving the lives of populations in the US or in the world is so key. And I guess it's interesting to think about those parallels.

Dan, do you have anything that you want to add on that regard or anything that you're thinking of? 

Dan Cole: Yeah, I mean  the plumber's motto, “We protect the health of the nation.” The health of the nation is first. That is the plumber's mandate. When we install, when we maintain, when we correct and repair plumbing systems, our first intent is to protect the health and people.

When I was a plumbing inspector, although it was maybe outside of the purview of the specific thing that I was inspecting, if I noticed something that was unsanitary, it was my responsibility to point out to the homeowner / business owner and say, “Hey, by the way, I noticed this really needs to be addressed.”

So that, that is our consciousness as plumbers. And that's what we do. Put the health of people first. 

Christoph Lohr: Definitely. 

Rodolfo Perez: Absolutely. I agree. I wrote an article a while that goes, basically you're like, would be like the cardiologist of the building after all. You know? Like making sure the whole circulatory system actually works. All the veins and arteries actually do the work it’s supposed to do.

Christoph Lohr: I've never heard of plumbers referred to as cardiologists of buildings, but I think that's going to be my new hashtag, Rodolfo. I love that. Well, let me ask this question then. Obviously, IAPMO is involved in a lot of things, and Dan, you've been around for a while. Like in our intro, you know, we talked a little bit about the Water Demand Calculator in my introduction of you, and your work on Roy Hunter.

I believe that the Water Demand Calculator is part of IAPMO’s We-Stand. Can you give us a little bit of background as far as what the Water Demand Calculator is, and what is We-Stand, and how that all kind of works together? 

Dan Cole: Yeah, real brief … um, I say that facetiously. The Water Demand Calculator … every plumbing system is, you know, I'll just focus on the water supply.

Every water supply design begins, has a starting point with estimating what the peak demand is because that's kind of your start-off on your pipe sizing. Then after that, then you can calculate your friction, losses, and length of runs and how you're going to design the system. But you need to some way estimate, what is the peak demand of the building? So you don't have to size the system based on every single plumbing fixture in the building as though every one of them is going to be on at the same time. So it's a probability method that Roy Hunter developed back in the forties and … 

Christoph Lohr:  Wait That's 1940s?

Dan Cole: 1940s. 

Christoph Lohr:  Oh, wow.

Dan Cole: So he used a method of probability, but his assumptions are pretty much dated because plumbing fixtures have changed since the 1940s. They have become more water efficient; flow rates have dropped. And when he developed his probability theory, he based it on congested use, which means that he assumed the worst-case scenario that a plumbing fixture would be used continuously by a person one right after the other. Well, not every building type has that. So, we put together a team and we kind of reevaluated Hunter's model and we made it more modern. We didn't have to use a design curve. We can actually use an Excel spreadsheet with the algorithms already built in so that the user only has to put in the number of fixtures under consideration and the calculator will put out what that peak demand is. And once you know your peak demand, then you can start with your pipe sizing. So that's kind of a real, you know, summarized version of what the Water Demand Calculator is. And it found its home in the 2017 We-Stand, which is the water efficiency, sanitation standard. It's an American National Standard. And in this standard are water conservation techniques, methods, and technologies that any building owner from residential to commercial could use to have better water conservation, better water quality, and better design the plumbing system. 

Christoph Lohr: Gotcha. So going back then to that Water Demand Calculator, the sizing I imagine was impacted and you were able to reduce the size for the buildings that were studied. The pipe sizes for those. 

Dan Cole: Yeah, Christoph. It was actually back in the seventies, 1970s, that the plumbing engineers were starting to complain and saying that we're using the method. And we know that we're oversizing the pipes, and they were calling for the plumbing community to come up with a new method, a revised method to better accurately predict a peak demand.

So, from the 1970s to the present, plumbing engineers have been stuck with an antiquated method of estimating peak demand. Until recently when we developed this Water Demand Calculator to bring this method up to date for plumbers to use. 

Christoph Lohr: What type of buildings does the Water Demand Calculator help sort of shrink sizing for?

Dan Cole: The Water Demand Calculator was built and driven upon statistical data that was accumulated over a number of years through Aquacraft. They've been collecting end use of water data since the eighties. We were able to use that data, over a million data sets that we were able to use a query to, to find out how fixtures were being used in residential, single multifamily dwellings. That's what the calculator is applicable for at this time until we get some more statistical data for commercial buildings.

Christoph Lohr: Gotcha. But there's a pathway there to do it for other commercial buildings. 

Dan Cole: And the calculator will work for any building type, as long as we have the correct parameters put in the calculator, but the parameters now are more applicable for single and multi-family welding buildings. 

Rodolfo Perez: Patterns might be different, I guess.

Christoph Lohr: Yeah. Well, let me ask you, Rodolfo. I mean the usage patterns, right? I mean, if you're shrinking pipe sizing, I would imagine that would invariably affect well-being inside buildings in some way. Right? 

Rodolfo Perez: I think it's critical, if we were going to put low flow fixtures … that they … at the end of the line, something that is designed for, to handle less flow.

But you have something that is designed to have much more flow area, you're going to create a problem and …  so might as well be consistent and that's something that, it seems like it was the missing link. Having a way to actually down some spikes, to actually use properly low flow fixtures and add up the whole system to those no flow, not just to basically put a plaque at the end of the line.

So, this is exciting. It's exciting to have a tool that we can come up with that is, you know, recognized, and it's easy to follow. This is, and you can see that they're actually for human health, because when the water runs at the flow it’s supposed to run, instead of,  you know, going too slow, which increases the water age inside the building, which is exactly the opposite thing that we want to have, you know. Water is meant to flow, so let’s keep it going.  

Christoph Lohr: Yeah, no. Definitely, Rodolfo. Well, I guess that kind of leads me to have a follow up question with you, which is how does water affect populations and buildings? You know, how does it affect the well-being of the people that are inside the building? 

Rodolfo Perez: In many ways. The water in pipes can be the agents of health or the agent of disease, depending on what we do with it. A shower, you know, definitely helps with hygiene, but if we're prone to immunocompromise or we're prone to get Legionnaire's disease and the water is not properly maintained, then we can go and basically, we can have a building that might harness bacteria. In may potentially create Legionnaires' disease or make people develop Legionnaire's disease.

So, I mean, definitely buildings are agents of health and disease. We think about them particularly, you know, in the realm of environmental health, you know, bad things, but we can, I think Joe Allen, professor Joe Allen says enlist them for our health. And definitely, water has these properties. I mean, water also is basic. We need to come up, to drink water, to survive.

And as such, we need to make sure that, you know, first we have it available and second, we use it. To keep it flowing, as I said earlier. So all of those things are together and we have our duty to actually drink it. There's a reason why we produce it. There's a reason why water treatments are one of the biggest technological advancement on the 20th century. Because it basically provides such a jumping in inequality of life and expectations for, uh, lives. We’ve gotta maintain it. We gotta use it. And we want to make sure that it's properly contained within a building after being properly treated and distributed from the water treatment plant. 

Christoph Lohr: That makes sense. So it sounds like what IWBI is looking at is as a number of parameters then. I mean, you mentioned, you know, how the water treatment plant treats it. So there's contaminants that are concerns, there's pathogens, right. You know, you mentioned earlier that that size can have a part to play in that. So, it sounds like, WELL is looking at, in many ways, a lot of the same criteria that IAPMO was looking at, you know, as far as overall safety wellbeing, inside of water, coming into building.

Rodolfo Perez: Absolutely. Basically for having a good plumbing system, we should be able to deliver water as it’s supposed to be from the plant. So meeting some health thresholds and actually at WELL, we do, if you want to get a certification, the last step is a third party goes and actually tests the water to make sure that it meets the threshold, which is something that sometimes – in most cases, at least in the U S – regulations come to. Regulations tend to regulate the water at the plant when it's produced within this regional system.

But, once it enters a building, we don't know what's going to happen. And we know old buildings, sometimes they have lead types. So we need to make sure that the corrosion does not hit the user. Similar thing with copper or other chemicals that might actually end up in the pipes. Similar thing with disinfection byproducts. If the water ages, you know, we might have DVPs for instance, that may get in or any other. Can we cut byproducts that come from water for sitting too long in pipes, which is something that happened actually during COVID. So we have a chemical testing as onsite by third parties — one of the primary means. The other one is to force a project’s Legionella management plans to address bacteriological issues that might be in the whole water loops. You need to make sure that you have a plan to address this issue, which usually involves, you know, keeping the water hot when it has to be hot and keep it moving when it has to move.

And we also award points for other things like make sure that your water is tasty so you promote hydration. You promote drinking water to make sure that your water tastes right. So the chemical parameters related to taste are good. And then you put enough water dispensers so people actually can have access to water.

We know, for instance, in grocery stores, companies put their products in a place that they're visible so they foster consumption. We want to do same thing with water. We want water to be consumed. That's what it is for. So those are the things that we incorporate in the water concept within WELL. 

Christoph Lohr: That makes a lot of sense. You know, one of the things you mentioned, Rodolfo, was age. And I think that was kind of a key point that kind of peaked my ears up because you know, that kind of relates directly to what Dan was talking about with the Water Demand Calculator and pipe size, because the larger the pipe – and you might’ve also mentioned how the water flows, that if you slow that down and then age increases, which means that you have more potential contaminants in the water, or you have less disinfectant in the water, which can also can create some more contaminants. So it sounds like you're describing, Rudolph, what I was hoping to kind of talk about some today is that this relationship between the size of the pipe does have an impact on water quality. And it's my sense that’s what you're kind of alluding to there. 

Rodolfo Perez: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, it's, uh, you know, is it, yeah, I mean, flow is, you know, will be related with the diameter of the pipe.

So definitely you might need to run the water faster. We might need some, uh, there's always trade off things, you know, with the sizing pumps, but also, but that's a healthier way to move water and that's the way, you know — I mean, that's how rivers purify water. That's how water is meant to be. So yeah, we need to foster that as much as we can.

Christoph Lohr: Definitely. Well, you know, Dan, Rudolph was mentioning a lot of things about flow rate and obviously linking it back to concepts like the Water Demand Calculator, but obviously water efficiency is much bigger than just the Water Demand Calculator. I think you mentioned it was just one chapter in that book.

What else is water efficiency? Like the We-Stand document. What does that all entail? And you know, are there any other concepts outside of there that you've been involved with, from a water efficiency standpoint that are worth kind of mentioning here? 

Dan Cole: You know, water efficiency. We're not talking about the water itself. Water is water. Mainly when we say water efficiency, we're talking about a plumbing system that will efficiently deliver water and not wastewater. So that's what We-Stand does right off the bat. You know, there's a whole chapter on water conserving fixtures. You know, we want fixtures that are designed for its intended use, but we don't want too much water that would be wasted.

So we we've seen flow rates drop from, you know, two and a half, three gallons per minute coming out of a lavatory faucet down to one, 1.5 gallons per minute. Shower heads now are 2.0 gallons per minute or less. The water consumption of a toilet used to be five gallons per flush. Now we're down to 1.28 or less.

So we're efficiently using water nowadays than we have in the past before. And you know, the question always is how low can you go with water conservation and still have user satisfaction? How low can you go on a shower head before the user says, you know, “Oh my gosh, it takes me forever to get the shampoo out of my hair. There's hardly any water coming out of the shower head.” So, you know, all of these things, the manufacturers are aware of, you know. For shower heads or spray patterns, if more efficient spray patterns, pressure coming out of these low flow shower heads so that you have efficiency for consumer satisfaction.

So that's more what water efficiency means. For the hot side, how many times people will turn on the shower on the hot side and walk away and go get their pot of coffee going. Cause they know it's going to take two, three minutes for the hot water to arrive at the outlet. So you're wasting all that water because the pipes are oversized, or the heating source, the water heating source is too far away from the end use. So those are inefficient ways. So plumbing systems can become more efficient in the way that they deliver hot water and the way that they deliver water in general for the user and a plumbing engineer should keep that in mind. And these are some of the things that the We-Stand does address. 

Christoph Lohr: Gotcha. So I'm definitely sensing some overlap here between these various concepts of wellbeing and water efficiency. You know, let me, I guess … oh, go ahead, Rodolfo. 

Rodolfo Perez: You can’t have efficiency if you don't have health. Because, you know, if something happens then, you know, you have to remediate, and all the efficiency and all the … what was basically, you know, backfires and becomes a remediation issue and remediation is always more burdensome.

Let alone the chemicals needed to clean up, say a system contaminated with Legionella, let alone their PR, you know, for a commercial building. So it's good to … I mean that's what I like about efficiency — the combined aspect of efficiency. It's not just like put in a low flow fixture, but make sure the whole system is designed for low flow. So to deliver that efficiency in a safer way, then we can talk about true sustainability. 

Christoph Lohr: Definitely. Yeah. Let me ask you this, Rudolfo. Kind of follow up with that. You know, how can a concept like water wellbeing positively effect water efficiency? I mean, what's some of the ways that — you had kind of touched on it, you know — you can't have one or the other, so how does water wellbeing positively affect water efficiency?

Rodolfo Perez: How we measure efficiency is basically, we use it for what it's meant to. I mean, we use as little as we can for what it needs to be intended. Also, the fact that we use it for … we spend a lot of resources to make sure that the water is right to be drunk. I mean, the whole point of the Safe Drinking Water Act  is drinking it … so we might as well be drinking it. So, I mean, definitely using it for what it's meant for is a really key component in any type of, you know, sustainability plan. So, that's something that we want to ensure … that we have infrastructure, let's keep infrastructure. I'm very happy to hear that there's going to be a lot of investment to maintain what we have and ensure that in this country there's a, you know, a safe distribution system for treatment for good drinking water, because keeping that infrastructure is a primary way to become truly sustainable.

So it does what we do in WELL. We say to test the water to verify it’s good, and then use it. Use it. What it's meant for. We also have features for reuse water to recapture water in a safer way. So basically, if you have any system that involves, say grey water treatment, or you capture rain water for a purpose of feeding a cooling tower or for irrigation, make sure that you consider your safety measures to do it right, so that you don't need to remediate if something goes wrong. So that's our contribution — to add the safety to the conscious use of water. And by that we believe we can reach true sustainability in the longterm. 

Dan Cole: And if I may chime in, Rodolfo. I think that every WELL building — every certified WELL building — should not have to have bottled water. And the reason I say this is that when I was in the Netherlands and in the hotel that I was staying at … because I used to always asking at the desk for bottled water when I go to a hotel. In Netherlands, I did the same thing. I went to the desk. I asked if they had bottled water and they looked at me perplex. Like, why are you asking for bottled water?

I said to drink. And they said, well, are our water is okay to drink. I mean, they just were perplexed. They were very proud of their water system. They were very secure in their water system that the water coming into their buildings was safe to drink and healthy to drink. I don't find that consciousness here in the United States as much. Everyone has a sports bottle. Everyone's drinking out of a water bottle. There seems to be a distrust in the quality of our drinking water. And I think that's one of the things that really needs to be addressed in a WELL building. 

Rodolfo Perez: Absolutely. You are preaching to the choir, my friend. My dream is to have everyone drinking tap water, because that's what we work for. I mean, why we spend all that money, first of all, as a society. So we should demand that we should use it, but also have a responsibility to drink it on the other end. When it's safe, let's use it for what it's meant for. Why are we demanding it? Why are we investing all this infrastructure improvements that relate to water? If we're not going to use it, that doesn't make sense to me. So that's kind of exactly what in WELL certified building, that's exactly what we want to do. We want to make sure people can drink safely and with confidence and with awareness that water quality matters. So absolutely. I mean, bottled water, don't take me wrong,

sometimes we definitely need it in case of emergency, but it should not be our primary means of hydration. 

Christoph Lohr: That leads me to my next question. You know, I think in many ways, you know, bottled water, there's concerns about the efficiency. Obviously, there's a wellbeing it gets. I think a lot more people have been drinking water as a result of bottled water, but perhaps it's not the most efficient way to get drinking water.

That leads me to ask the question, you know, how can water efficiency positively impact water wellbeing. Or maybe there's negative ways it can be impacted. Dan, do you want to chime in on that a little bit?

Dan Cole: The water quality is significant. And again, I'll give you another anecdote. I was in a hotel. And I have to sleep with the a BiPap machine for my breathing. And you're never supposed to fill your humidifier with tap water. They tell you not to. They say to use distilled water, or maybe even bottled water would be safer, but I didn't have any bottled water with me and I needed to fill my humidifier. So I turned on the cold water. I let it run for awhile and it never got really cold. It was kind of lukewarm. And a little voice in my mind said don't do this. And I did it. And I did it for two nights and I ended up getting pneumonia. I wasn't checked, I didn't ask to be checked to see if it was Legionella. Most likely it was. But it was a form of pneumonia. It happened quite quickly because it’s aerosoled and I breathed it in all night. The water quality just was not there for a user able to use the cold tap water for a humidifier. So, the water quality in the way it affects the health of the people is really significant if the hot water has Legionella in it on a shower side, and you're taking a hot shower where it's steamy. You can get infected that way. So, the water quality is really, really significant for the health and wellbeing of people. 

Christoph Lohr: And as we kind of mentioned before, water quality is impacted directly by water efficiency. 

Rodolfo Perez: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean also, let’s not forget though that part of the efficiency is the equality of things, infrastructure, the leaks. And then there are the possibilities that something can enter your distribution system. That's something we do cover in WELL. We work projects that do have a system to quickly address leaks and, you know, any puncture in the system can create intrusion. So definitely, that aspect of efficiency and safety that are correlated, we didn't talk about, but, it's also important.

Christoph Lohr: Yeah, Rodolfo, I'm glad you brought up the leaks because that was … you know, when I've gone through and looked at the WELL water concepts, I saw that from a water efficiency standpoint, there's a lot of standards out there that focus on reduced flow rate and everything else, but I thought it was really cool to see that focus for water efficiency was leak detection, right. And preventing leaks. And, you know, that's one of those things that there's definitely overlap between the WELL building standard and, you know, IAPMO codes and standards. And that was one, you know, there's IAPMO Z1349. I think it's a 2021 document that's the standard for devices for detection — looking it up here — monitoring or control of plumbing systems. So basically, it's a leak detection standard. And so again, here's these things, you know, I know we've recognized the need of that. WELL building has recognized the need of it. And here's another one of those overlap components where we're pointing to the same thing, you know, maybe on parallel tracks.

And then there's a great opportunity to kind of amplify the message by working together. 

Rodolfo Perez: Yeah, absolutely. I think like-mind organizations will, you know … we first of all at WELL, we believe, we try to convene the latest information coming from the research, as well as from institutions who basically are leading the disciplines and the trades behind, you know, a space, is standard making organizations, as I said before researchers, some trade organizations, and there are NGOs that might be advancing certain fields within the whole realm of health and wellbeing. So, absolutely. We believe like a good nature … instead they're making organizations that lean towards the same, so I'm not surprised there were so many areas of commonality because I believe basically that our goals are the same.

So as such, I mean, some of the … most of the means I would say, may end up converging. 

Christoph Lohr: I think so too. And if there's anything out there that has shown us the need to work together, I guess it's been our COVID crisis. You know, just the number of concerns of stagnant water. IAPMO has worked with AWWA to release two documents. The first was responding to stagnant water and the second is a Manual of Best practices for the Safe Closure and Reopening of Buildings. That'll be hopefully set to be released here. But the WELL Building Institute had the health safety rating index, if I recall correctly. And, you know, I guess that leads me to another question here.

And I guess we'll start with you, Rudolfo. Yyou know, COVID has shown us a lot obviously, but what has it shown regarding our ability to provide water that promotes wellbeing and is efficiently delivered? I mean, how has COVID rated our water, wellbeing and efficiency? 

Rodolfo Perez: It's an interesting question. COVID, I think if anything, has highlighted the need for being proactive on how to design and operate and maintain buildings. It's one of the few silver linings actually, the health insights basis matter. And now we have questions that things that were, as a former public health worker in environmental health reminded, those things were always after thoughts until something bad happened.

And then people say like, where's the health department, you know? But if you try to put money on those things upfront, being proactive about things, you never get those resources. So showing productivity and showing it has been something new, which is a good thing. And something that we noticed because of, you know, as you mentioned, the WELL health safety rating, which is just a collection of the operational features embodied in WELL v2 has really taken off all over the world.

You'll see more and more fields with wealth, health, safety rating rated buildings and locations all over. We have an important  media campaign also going on at this moment. In water, COVID in water, basically proactivity on testing water onsite is something that we award there. And as well as , you know, again, the Legionella plan assess it's approximately something that is basically a way to show management of your water resource. 

You need to basically make sure what you've been doing, while you might need to do it to recommission your system, even if recommissioning, but at least consider stagnant water. No unsafe water. And do something to try to remove or reduce the risk of potential Legionella and basically bringing that awareness to organizations and through their buildings has been very, I think, one of the key components of this WELL health safety rating in this whole pandemic.

So, let's be proactive. For the first time, we're having the conversation. And let’s show the proactivity, basically, and people now should be able to recognize buildings and organizations are more proactive in their reopening and in their management of their assets, which is … well, they're tangible assets – the buildings, but the most important assets, which are the people who are entering those buildings.

Dan Cole: And if I may jump in there, when, you know, anything that … if there's anything I learned about this COVID pandemic, and I think we're still concerned, I mean, a lot of people are still concerned about returning back to work, returning back to the buildings that have been emptied, that have been sat, unoccupied, or minimally occupied. Is it safe to go back to work? And it just reminds me of what happened in 2003 in Hong Kong. It’s commonly known about the SARS outbreak, in the Amoy Gardens in Hong Kong, in that building 329 persons were affected. 42 deaths. And the consensus from the World Health Organization was that the transmission of the virus was through dry bathroom floor drains combined with inappropriate ventilation of the bathrooms. So there was actually like a reflux of air from the soil stack through the floor drain into the bathroom when the exhaust fan caused some negative pressure drawing the sewer gas from, you know, through the floor drains into the living area.

And it just, the transmission just spread through the plumbing system and through the ventilation system in that way. So there needs to be a consciousness of how plumbing systems work. What happens when a building sits for a long period of time. There's traps, the traps serve the purpose, they're water filled traps. They serve the purpose to block sewer gases from the living space of the building. But when those traps evaporate, then there's no longer that barrier and you allow those contaminants and microbes to enter into the living space. So, you know, they did come up with corrective measures and I thought that these corrective measures were applicable for any kind of wellbeing.

I mean, these things, whether there's a pandemic or not, these things have to be managed. For every WELL building. Number one is disinfection and cleaning bathroom fixtures and kitchens. And that should be done routinely. There should be immediate repair of any plumbing, defects and leaks. A lot of times people procrastinate because, oh, it's going to cost me so much money.

It's not that big of a deal, but any plumbing defects and leaks should be immediately repaired. Odors, if there's an odor … don't mask it by putting in a deodorizer. The odor is coming from somewhere. It could be a dry trap. It could be a loose toilet seal and gases are escaping through the toilet seals. So if there's an odor, odors should be reported immediately. There should be routine inspection of plumbing fixtures. You should remove floor drains from rooms that don't need the floor drains, or if floor drains are necessary, there should be trap primers to make sure that those floor drains are replenished  and maintained. Plumbing design is important from the very get-go. So anyway, these are things that we've learned in the past, and we need to continue to apply in the future for the maintaining of good health in the living environment, within the building envelope. 

Rodolfo Perez: That's great to hear, actually. One of the nice things about WELL is we have, as I said before, this kind of holistic approach to health and wellbeing. And actually, we do have a, again in water, we used to be in our community concept, bathroom accommodations, and we merged them when we released as WELL v2, in which we basically, we require buildings seeking WELL, to basically provide basic services for everyone and needing, you know, a restroom, which so far I know everyone needs a restaurant, but also in those restrooms, you know, not only the accessibility part, they being the hanger sometimes, like the hand-washing, disposable or consumables, but also the self prime p-traps.

So that kind of makes it something that we can do in WELL. Trying to do as much as we can to actually to convey the message and say, I mean, have proper sanitation, proper hygiene and, you know, sustainable. 

Christoph Lohr: Well, with the last couple of minutes here, we've talked a lot about how there's a lot of overlap between what IAPMO and IWPI are doing.

We've talked a lot about how there's sort of this shared outlook in many ways. And we've talked about how, you know, there's this holistic approach that needs to be taken. And then both organizations are taking those steps into evaluating things outside of that. Dan, those examples you just gave were excellent, kind of showing tthis domino effect you can have. 

I guess my last question to you all is, you know, what is the future of water efficiency and well building look like or wellbeing, you know, what is the future of water efficiency, and wellbeing look like? I guess I'll start with Rudolfo. And then Dan, if you want to follow up with them.

Rodolfo Perez: For me, it’s raise awareness, demand good water, and use it, because otherwise you lose it. And when you lose it, that's the worst part. And that's where it really hits home. And you don't want to get there. So you use your water. Or you lose the quality and that is going to drive sustainability if you consciously use it. So don't waste it. 

Christoph Lohr: Dan, what about you? What is the future of water efficiency and well-being look like? 

Dan Cole: Well, I think you're going to see more hands-free operation of plumbing fixtures, even for toilet flushing. So a lot of what we are already witnessing. I think you're just going to be seeing more of hands-free operation. I think the future holds more confidence, a need for confidence in water quality.

Like we've discussed before, drinking the tap water with confidence, knowing that it’s healthy and is good for you. And I think that hot water delivery needs to be now. When you turn on the hot water side, there needs to be hot water. Otherwise you're wasting water waiting for the hot water to come to the fixture.

So those are some of the things that I think are coming in the future. They're already on the radar and solutions are being sought for these things.

Christoph Lohr: You know, I was going to say from what I'm hearing from Rodolfo and from you, Dan, is that education and awareness, and then technical advances and technical concepts are needed.

You know, that makes me think of IAPMO’s Water Demand Calculator Summit that's being planned right now for November 4th. That's going to give people that want to partake and listen and get CEUs, but it'll give them a chance to also be part of history and to join some of the work that, you know, that we talked about, you know?

And I think that's one of those, you know, things that take that education. It takes that building awareness, it takes the new technical concepts, and it kind of brings it together. Hopefully our listeners here today will look into that, but you know, we'd love to have both of you, Dan and Rudolfo, at that event as well.

I think it'd be great to maybe, I'd say, that's gonna be a virtual event, but maybe in future years it will be an in-person event. And it's another one of those things that we can do as an industry to kind of bring the needed revisions and thought processes to the design, installation, and maintenance of buildings.

I think you guys hit on some really great points today. So with that, let me ask what is the top thing that you want people to take away from our talk?

Rodolfo Perez: For me, learn about water and don't be afraid of it. Right on 

Christoph Lohr: Right on. Dan? 

Dan Cole: I agree. The health of the water is is paramount and, having the confidence in our drinking water. That's an important need. And I think that the plumbing industry and the WELL Building Institute, you know, I think we can really join hands. I think we have the same objectives for the health of the people. I mean, when Rodolfo started right off the bat and said “people first,” and as soon as he said that it came to mind, the plumbers modo to protect the health of the nation.

And so I think that, you know, definitely our organizations can work together and achieve the common objective. 

Christoph Lohr: Dan, how can people get in touch with you, either on social media or email or anything else?

Dan Cole: You can find me on LinkedIn or  you can reach me via my email at

Christoph Lohr: And Rodolfo? How about you? 

Rodolfo Perez: Yeah, my LinkedIn, look for Rodolfo Perez, IWBI. I think I'm the only one. And my email is my name –

Christoph Lohr: Well, I would say if listeners want to get in touch with me, my Twitter handles @LohrThoughts, or you can get in touch with me on LinkedIn – Christoph Lohr, PE. If you search for me that way, you should be able to find me. 

Well, on behalf of The Authority Podcast: Plumbing & Mechanical, thank you, Dan, thank you, Rodolfo, for joining. Hopefully we can have another one of these conversations here in the near future.  

Rodolfo Perez: Sounds like a plan. Thank you so much for organizing. And Dan, a pleasure.

Dan Cole: Yes, my pleasure too. 

Christoph Lohr: And with that, we'll wrap things up. We'll look forward to seeing all of our listeners on the next episode of The Authority Podcast: Plumbing & Mechanical. Until then.