Welcome to this week's episode of “The Authority Podcast: Plumbing & Mechanical.” This is part one of a two-part series where we're going to continue our theme of plumbing resiliency and discuss sustainability issues with Emma Hughes, Project Manager in the LEED Department at the U.S. Green Building Council, also known as USGBC; Mike Cudahy, Regulation and Sustainability Specialist for the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association, also known as PPFA; Susan Kapetanovic-Marr, Principal, Sustainability Specialist at Morrison Hershfield; and Daryn Cline, Director of Environmental Technologies for EVAPCO.
Emma Hughes, a LEED AP BD+C and true advisor, is a project manager in the LEED Department at the U.S. Green Building Council and a proponent of integrated holistic approaches to sustainable design and development. At USGBC, she collaborates with industry stakeholders and networks of diverse volunteer experts to evolve and refine the LEED green building rating system.
To learn more about the U.S. Green Building Council, visit https://www.usgbc.org.
Mike Cudahy, Regulation and Sustainability Specialist for the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association, works on building and plumbing codes, sustainability and regulation issues for the piping industry and has served on numerous green building and code committees for the past 15 years, including USGBC's LEED program. His background is in chemistry and forensics and he lives in south Florida.
To learn more about PPFA, visit https://www.ppfahome.org.
Susan Kapetanovic-Marr is a sustainability specialist at Morrison Hershfield, an international engineering consulting company with offices throughout Canada, U.S. and India. Located in Calgary, Alberta, Susan has over 12 years of experience managing sustainability-focused projects and providing guidance to successfully achieve green building certification targets. She's also the practice lead for green building rating systems and a team lead on third-party LEED projects assessments for Canada Green Building Council.
To learn more about Morrison Hershfield, visit https://morrisonhershfield.com.
Daryn Cline, director of environmental technologies for EVAPCO, is responsible for the sustainable application of EVAPCO'S energy-efficient and water-saving products in the industrial, building and power markets. He's been at EVAPCO for 31 years. He's a member of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED water efficiency technical advisory group. He's a voting member of ASHRAE standard 191. He's a member of the ASHRAE Standard 514, and a voting member of ASHRAE Guideline 12-2000. He has his bachelor's of science and physics from West Virginia University and an MBA from the University of Baltimore.
To learn more about EVAPCO, visit https://www.evapco.com.
Christoph Lohr: Welcome to this week's episode of “The Authority Podcast: Plumbing & Mechanical.” This is part one of a two-part series where we're going to continue our theme of plumbing resiliency and discuss sustainability issues with Emma Hughes, Project Manager in the LEED Department at the U.S. Green Building Council, also known as USGBC; Mike Cudahy, Regulation and Sustainability Specialist for the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association, also known as PPFA; Susan Kapetanovic-Marr, Principal, Sustainability Specialist at Morrison Hershfield; and Daryn Cline, Director of Environmental Technologies for EVAPCO. It's my great pleasure to have a number of folks from the U.S. Green Building Council, both staff and some of their volunteers, on the episode with us today.
First is Emma Hughes, a LEED AP BD+C and true advisor. She's a project manager in the LEED Department at the U.S. Green Building Council and a proponent of integrated holistic approaches to sustainable design and development. At USGBC she collaborates with industry stakeholders and networks of diverse volunteer experts to evolve and refine the LEED green building rating system.
Her work focuses on the intersection of buildings, renewable energy procurement and net zero goals. Emma supports the technical development of LEED green building rating systems, requirements for water and energy efficiency, and leads development and implementation of the LEED zero certification program.
She earned her B.S. In international relations from Boston University. Emma, welcome to "The Authority Podcast."
Emma Hughes: Thank you so much for having me.
Christoph Lohr: Next up is Mike Cudahy. Michael works on building and plumbing codes, sustainability and regulation issues for the piping industry for PPFA and has served on numerous green building and code committees for the past 15 years, including USGBC's LEED program. His background is in chemistry and forensics and he lives in south Florida. Mike, thanks so much for joining us today.
Mike Cudahy: Sure. It's great to be here for this critical topic.
Christoph Lohr: Next up we have Susan Kapetanovic-Marr. Susan is a sustainability specialist at Morrison Hershfield, an international engineering consulting company with offices throughout Canada, U.S. and India.
Located in Calgary, Alberta, Susan has over 12 years of experience managing sustainability-focused projects and providing guidance to successfully achieve green building certification targets. She's also the practice lead for green building rating systems and a team lead on third-party LEED projects assessments for Canada Green Building Council.
She's a professional engineer, a LEED APD+C, LEED AP O+M, and WELL AP. And again, her committee involvement includes the Canada Green Building Council, United States Building Council, and the International Well Building Institute. She has her master's in applied science and mechanical engineering and her bachelor's in applied science and chemical engineering from the University of Toronto, and she has graduate studies, collaborative program and environmental engineering at the University of Toronto as well. Susan, thanks so much for being on the show with us today.
Susan Kapetanovic-Marr: Happy to be here.
Christoph Lohr: And last but not least, we have Daryn Cline, who's the director of environmental technologies for EVAPCO, responsible for the sustainable application of EVAPCO'S energy-efficient and water-saving products in the industrial, building and power markets.
He's been at EVAPCO for 31 years. He's a member of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED water efficiency technical advisory group. He's a voting member of ASHRAE standard 191. He's a member of the ASHRAE Standard 514, and a voting member of ASHRAE Guideline 12-2000. He has his bachelor's of science and physics from West Virginia University and an MBA from the University of Baltimore.
He's a LEED-accredited professional and a member of both the U.S. Green Building Council and ASHRAE. Darren, really appreciate you taking some time out of your day to join us as well.
Daryn Cline: Yeah. Thank you, Christoph. Thank you for having me.
Christoph Lohr: Absolute pleasure. Well, let's go ahead and jump right in. And I guess the first question, since we have such a strong contingent of U.S. Green Building Council on the podcast today, I guess, let me direct this at Emma.
What is the U.S. Green Building Council's overarching principles?
Emma Hughes: Great question, happy to happy to kick us off today and excited to be joined by the talented volunteers that I work with in my professional capacity at USGBC. The mission of our organization is, in a nutshell, sort of sustainable market transformation of the built environment.
So we know that better buildings equal better lives. Our most successful tool to date for facilitating the sustainable market transformation has been the LEED green building rating system. So this is a voluntary leadership standard. It's used in more than 170 countries around the globe. And it really represents peak performance in the building industry, and through our 100-point systems of mandatory prerequisite requirements and optional credit strategies, it focuses and really drives at the intersection that buildings have with human health and the natural environment, as well as provides best practices and strategies for project teams to sort of advocate for a greener economy and enhance sort of community wellbeing and social equity outcomes, depending on your focus.
So I mentioned that my role is collaborating with volunteer professionals who serve on LEED technical committees. And our technical committees are really the brainpower behind the rating system. They help staff develop and refine the requirements over time. Looking specifically at LEED requirements for water at present, I would say the rating system focuses on efficiency first, the critical need to preserve and protect this vital resource. Our LEED water efficiency technical advisory group, or the committee that I work closely with to develop and refine these requirements, is actually right now looking forward to better understand how we can update the requirements to more comprehensively address the host of outcomes that water can touch, including advancing water quality in human health, within green buildings.
So there's a lot to dig into today and I'm excited to hear more from each of our volunteers on these important topics.
Christoph Lohr: I really appreciate the background and context you provided there, Emma, and I got to say, I totally agree with that need to protect and preserve one of our most precious resources.
It's really great to hear other industry organizations that match up with what IAPMO believes in that regard too. And I also liked that point you had mentioned, to paraphrase it, holistic ideas, making sure that we're looking at the problem from all angles. Let me direct the next question then at Susan, Darren and Mike: Why did you all decide to volunteer for USGBC and be part of that technical committee? Let's start with Susan.
Susan Kapetanovic-Marr: Sure. I've been working with the Canada Green Building Council, you had mentioned in my intro, I am in Canada and Alberta specifically, and I've been working with them on the sites and water tech for many, many years.
I've also been involved in third-party reviews. So basically evaluating hundreds of submissions, LEED submissions. So I've seen what works and what doesn't work in terms of guidelines that LEED sets, and I really wanted to contribute to the formation and collaborate with industry experts, and U.S. Green Building Council really does provide that platform of collaborating, not just with the U.S. representatives, but international as well, and looking at problems that we have in Canada with water efficiency, for example, in that category, but then also contrasting that with worldwide issues. So it's been very enlightening and it's been actually a great opportunity so far to collaborate with my fellow members and those on this panel.
Christoph Lohr: It sounds like with all the work you've done in Canada, you've kind of lived and breathed this, and it's maybe a little bit in your blood with the amount of time you've dedicated to this before joining with U.S. Green Building Council. So it sounds like a really good match.
Susan Kapetanovic-Marr: Yeah, sometimes I forget who I work for.
Christoph Lohr: Daryn, what about you?
Daryn Cline: Sure. Well, I've been involved with the USGBC since 2004. We started looking at sustainability that long ago, and I started attending the Greenbuild shows, and every year they got larger and more exciting, and just the energy around it and around sustainability, and EVAPCO makes products that contribute to reducing the energy of buildings, improving the water quality, reducing water usage. I really wanted to contribute more, so I applied to the LEED Technical Advisory Water Efficiency Group and was happy to be offered this volunteer position.
And I really enjoy it and enjoy working with Emma and the team and everybody on the call. I'm able to offer my knowledge and experience in the evaporative cooling industry, which offers significant energy savings, water-use reduction technologies and the ability to lower the carbon footprint of a building.
So I'm just happy to be a part of it.
Christoph Lohr: That's really cool. It sounds like from what you're describing, it sounds like your involvement in the us green building council, it's a good mission fit with your organization, right along with you as a person and professional.
Daryn Cline: Yes, absolutely agree with that, and, just getting started early on it was great because we'd brought the industry along and they all joined in as well. So everybody's offering water-saving, energy-saving technologies. So it's been a great industry boost as well.
Christoph Lohr: Definitely, definitely. Well, Mike, what about you? Why did you end up volunteering?
Mike Cudahy: Early on the plastic pipe and fitting industry we realized that green building would be certainly a growing use of our products and also a use of our products in new applications. Sustainable buildings would use more pipe in other words, not less. So it was critical for us to be engaged at the table of all the different types of organizations that cover this sort of development.
And that's IAPMO, who have the WE•Stand; GBI national green building standard from NHB; ASHRAE; IGCC; and of course, USGBC's LEED program. Properly designed piping systems are vital to these green buildings, and improper design would be a serious health and adoption issue. So here we are, and I am very proud of our involvement and work in this space.
I would give a special shout out to the WE•Stand because while a lot of these other programs simply ask you to conserve water or install some certain type of system, the WE•Stand goes a little further and tells you how to do that.
Christoph Lohr: Well, I definitely appreciate Mike, the, shout out for WE•Stand, which is an IAPMO document. I appreciate your thoughts on that. And I think that's something that we'd want to circle around to later, along with kind of that point you made Mike, which I think is a really important one about collaboration between various industry organizations. But before we get to that, I want to start off with kind of a high-level overview and then kind of get ourselves maybe down a little bit more into the weeds and focus on some specific examples.
Let me direct this first question at Susan. Just obviously from your background, you've been involved in a lot of policy and sort of jurisdiction thought processes. What are some of the big-picture ideas that policymakers in jurisdictions should consider, at least in the realm of water?
As it sounds like from some of our previous conversations, there's a number of things that Canada has done, that maybe could be a great sort of context or example for other jurisdictions and policymakers.
Susan Kapetanovic-Marr: Yeah, sure. Perfect. I actually was going to start with Canada and give everyone who's listening a little bit of a history lesson.
Specifically to the water industry, I feel like water has been, and in my profession as a LEED consultant and a sustainability consultant kind of in the shadow of energy for a very long time, and I couldn't understand why that was. There's obvious implications from a cost perspective, but essentially what I came to realize is, different from the U.S., Canada hasn't had a real mandate for water efficiency in plumbing that the U.S. has from your 1994 Energy Policy Act, which basically put a cap on water rates for plumbing fixtures. So we didn't really catch up until 20 years later, essentially, and different from the U.S., we're actually, we get a choice.
Each province gets a choice on what to adapt and when to adapt it. And if we want to sort of take the national code or make our own kind of based on it. So in 2015, we caught up to those minimum fixture standards and that was 2015. And I started working in 2009. So for those first early years it was LEED was really like driving the push for just selecting water-efficient fixtures. And thankfully now we're seeing jurisdictions and this comes to your question, Christoph, we see the four runners in the legislative market actually pushing higher efficiency standards. So the first point I want to make is, our city of Vancouver is probably the most leading edge in terms of water conservation measures. And it all comes from necessity and in recent years, and it's doubled with their, charter that they have that enables them to make these bylaws that they could implement, which is different from many municipalities. It's a whole political gong show here, but essentially they are now, as the city of Vancouver has issued its own bylaw effective January of this year, that mandates very aggressive flush fixture rates of 1.2 gallons per flush for toilets, half a gallon for urinals, et cetera, which are above the baseline fixtures that LEED recommends.
So that's an example of policy from the government actually driving water efficiency from the plumbing fixture perspective, but what I've also seen, and again, it's almost an awakening here in Canada because we've had so much fresh water. We still do in some regions, but we were seeing a lot of impacts from climate change in our water availability.
And we're also seeing effects from downstream in water release. And then we're also suffering from some climate change-kind-of-related sort of effects, which make us really more cognizant of resiliency and adaptation measures. So the two things I wanted to actually highlight is another, this is all coming mostly from B.C. in Vancouver, but an interesting one is about a new decision made by actually the Vancouver area. They are actually putting in a basic or Miller alkaline water supply. And the intent here is it's Metro Vancouver's effort to basically reduce pipe corrosion.
And this is really interesting because the benefit is to reduce the release of copper from copper pipes that is caused by lower pH water to downstream rivers and lakes and oceans, but also it protects from corrosion. And it's a great kind of all-around measure. I was also going to say about resiliency, they also have a bylaw for all, for the city of Vancouver. They have a, city of Vancouver's green buildings policy addresses a resiliency measure, which is basically to ensure that there's a water fountain or a bottle filling station in every building that can run on city pressure alone without electricity supply.
And that's to basically account for that water supply issue that you might see with power outages. So a lot of great things that I, the overall message I think is we can really push bigger change when it comes from a higher level of policy. And I'm excited to see how that goes with Vancouver.
Christoph Lohr: That makes sense. It sounds like the policymakers can kind of help create the conditions, but then let the various jurisdictions come up with specifics that maybe work best for their jurisdiction. Just because I imagine some of the complexity of the water issues varying so much from location to location, but kind of encouraging that and maybe more than just encouraging some of the water saving and water considerations from a higher policy level and then allowing the details to be figured out on a more local level. That sounds like it's working pretty well in Canada.
Daryn Cline: With the increase in alkalinity, this is kind of the law of unintended consequences. Sometimes the policies don't always work for everyone. So with cooling towers, now we can't run high cycles of concentration, and so we can't save as much water. So the alkalinity has posed, at least for the cooling tower side, a challenge in order to maintain the cycles of concentration that are required by the city of Vancouver, because they've made this chemistry change. So I just wanted to put that in there as a side note.
Christoph Lohr: No, that's a great point, Daryn. And I think that kind of speaks to this point that when we, as societies or technical committees or industry organizations, when we're making decisions, I think that that kind of speaks to the point that it's so important to make sure that all stakeholders have a voice and an ability to go ahead and provide input.
There are so many unintended consequences if you don't have that holistic viewpoint from every single angle, you might miss something like that. Right?
Daryn Cline: Totally agree.
Emma Hughes: I just wanted to chime in. I think Susan did a really nice job of showing us an example of a code focused on water efficiency, and then also talking about other programs or policies they're putting in place in Canada to underscore or get at those resilience and/or human health outcomes, and I just want to confirm or highlight that, because I think that reflects a lot of the discussions that we've had as a technical advisory group. There's a lot of interest, I think, among LEED committee membership and sort of evolving the focus from a strict water efficiency outcome to looking at water management and use more holistically.
So shifting that from a focus on water efficiency to maybe water stewardship might be a better way to describe that, and encompasses in a more clear way these important interconnections between water efficiency, water quality and helps daylight opportunities for project teams to focus on resilience and social equity outcomes.
Christoph Lohr: Actually, my next question was going to be back to you, Emma, on that, which was obviously there's a lot of policy and Susan gave some great examples of how the U.S.' neighbor to the north is handling that. But I imagine LEED, the U.S. Green Building Council, is trying to support good water policy as well, and that's through any number of ways I imagine, whether it's the committees themselves working on criteria or advocacy; can you speak on either one of those, Emma?
Emma Hughes: Yeah, I think I have the best insight into the technical development side, but I've learned a lot with supporting the committee and just in terms of big-picture ideas with a relentless focus on water efficiency that we've seen reflected, not just in LEED, but in now increasingly other building codes and programs. It's really important to balance water safety and human health considerations. But we know that really low-flow fixtures can lead to stagnation when they're not integrated properly into building plumbing systems and piping, so basically just driving home the point that there's many interconnections here and additional items to consider. I don't know if I can speak specifically to the advocacy efforts in this space that are up to date as of now. So Mike is a wealth of knowledge on this topic. I might even tee this up for him.
Christoph Lohr: So Mike, as Emma kind of was pointing it towards you, what are some examples that policymakers should be aware of when they're considering policy designs?
Mike Cudahy: I loved the stewardship of water. I think we've kind of focused a little too much on the conservation without looking at how that may impact other sides of things.
Water is life, right? And it's so ubiquitous that we notice its absence more than its presence, or we really take it sort of as a simple substance and we take it for granted because we've done so well at managing it for so many years, but things have changed. It's complex, it's even dangerous, if you don't manage it correctly, and we still have examples of that. So we still have outbreaks of things like Legionella. We had the lead in Flint issue when they changed their water supply as corrosion issues, originating from maybe changes in disinfectant or water source, and we do see people changing the water sources. So the unintended consequences thing pops up really quickly because there's so many factors.
So certainly the chlorination of water supplies was one of man's most beneficial acts starting in the early 1900s. And by mid-century we defeated basically waterborne disease in the U.S., it was basically — we out plumbed it. But disinfection byproducts as a result of disinfection have their own unique hazards, right?
So you can't overdo the chlorination. One could decide to control Legionella with extreme water temperatures, but there are unintended consequences there as well involving things like material wear and corrosion, and certainly thermal injury to occupants. We don't want to thermally scald young people, the disabled or elderly people.
So one of my objectives over the many years has been to instill in others in the water industry, that it has to be a holistic approach to water quality and design. For the last few years NIST, the folks at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, they've been sort of trying to piece together what sort of research needs to be done like they did early work in design in the 1940s. There was a lot of parameters and you can't just optimize for one. So, examples. There are multiple types of pathogens. It's not just Legionella. There were corrosion issues, water age, pipe scaling. I think we mentioned issues with cycling in cooling towers with higher salt contents, disinfectant residuals, temperature.
What kind of temperatures do you run up on that? Water waste, obviously; flow velocity, biofilms, pH. And of course those disinfection byproducts. And you can't just optimize one variable; you've got to study them all.
Christoph Lohr: And that makes sense. Well, that makes me think back to Daryn's comment earlier about alkalinity, right, and how that can affect cooling towers. Daryn, do you have any other thoughts, or do you want to add to what Mike was saying as regard of kind of examples policymakers should be thinking about?
Daryn Cline: Sure. Yeah. With this LEED Safety First credit reducing occupant exposure risks to that degraded water quality, I think adopting that in local jurisdictions would be very beneficial. You want to have healthy water in your building, and like Mike said, you have all these variables and changes, and you need to really be on top of that. And we saw that, especially with COVID with water moving slower in the buildings or not moving at all. There's a big example in Cleveland where 20% of their buildings had a 75% drop in water usage.
So they weren't getting chlorine; disinfectant byproducts are building up. And so, we have to adjust to that and be aware of that as a smart building owner.
Christoph Lohr: Definitely, definitely. And it's interesting because there's this interlinking between all these variables within water, and I think for so many years, we've kind of looked at water quality tending to focus on that 0.5 feet outside of the building, at least in the U.S. where utilities and civil bring the water up to the building. And then we kind of seem to have forgotten about water quality as it's come into the building. And my sense is that the last especially five, 10 years, the plumbing industry has really made a concerted effort to try to identify these issues and learn water quality.
That concludes part one of our two-part episode with Emma, Mike, Susan, and Daryn. Join us next week when we’ll continue our conversation and discuss the history of plumbing, the decay of residual disinfectants in water, water quality issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and how to help law makers understand the complexity of water. See you next time.