Subscribe to our newsletters & stay updated
This month, I’ll be catching you up on the code activities over the last few months. We’ll start off with the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), which sought Canadian input in the development of IAPMO Z1117, Press Connections, and IAPMO Z1154, Shower and Tub/Shower Enclosures, Bathtubs with Glass Pressure‐Sealed Doors, and Shower/Steam Panels, as national standards of Canada.
The IAPMO Z1117 press connections standard covers press connections made with:
• Copper or copper alloy fittings and Type K, L and M copper tube;
• Carbon-steel fittings and Schedule 10 and 40 carbon-steel pipe;
• Stainless-steel fittings and Schedule 5, 10, and 40 stainless-steel pipe;
• Stainless-steel fittings and stainless-steel pipe complying with the dimensions specified in the standard.
Z1117 specifies requirements for materials, physical characteristics, performance testing and markings. It includes products such as fittings, tube and pipe with press connection ends combined with other types of connections (e.g., threaded, soldered and push‐fit). Keep in mind that carbon-steel fittings and pipe covered by Z1117 are not intended to be used in plumbing systems.
IAPMO Z1154 covers shower/steam panels, enclosures for showers and tub/shower combinations, bathtubs and tub/shower combinations with glass pressure‐sealed doors, and floor‐mounted shower stalls intended for new and retrofit applications. It also specifies requirements for materials, physical characteristics, performance testing and markings.
Shower/steam panels and enclosures covered by Z1154 can include:
• Factory‐installed supply and waste fittings;
• Factory‐formed shower thresholds;
• Factory‐plumbed shower doors.
• In December, Lincoln, Neb., adopted the 2018 edition of the Uniform Plumbing Code(UPC), updating from the 2012 editions of the UPC, and was effective Dec. 27, 2021.
“After careful review of the plumbing code, amendments were drafted to fit the needs of the industry and citizens the code serves,” said Rex Crawford, Lincoln chief plumbing inspector. “The 2018 UPC with amendments embodies the provisions, guidelines and innovative methods that will best serve our residents. We recognized our industry prefers using the UPC and feel this code, as adopted, brings the greatest benefits for residential and commercial buildings.”
• The Sedgwick County, Kan., Board of Commissioners voted to end the adoption of a dual plumbing code, which allowed residents to choose which code they wanted to follow. The code officials had previously used the UPC, and there was a trial period allowing the choice of either the International Plumbing Code or the UPC. The commissioners chose to follow the 2021 Uniform Plumbing Code, with county-specific amendments, because they were familiar with the UPC and the liberties it offers them with respect to approvals.
Soon after the action, the city of Wichita, Kan., also voted to adopt the 2021 UPC and align its plumbing code with the surrounding county.
New Sanitary Facilities for Munazi Primary School
On Nov. 30, the International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation (IWSH) worked with the Rwanda Plumbers Organization (RPO) to launch the construction of new toilet and hand-washing facilities for Munazi Primary School in Gisagara District, Southern Province.
Throughout 2021, with assistance from IWSH, the RPO teams visited numerous potential project sites, and selected this site for a new IWSH project. Plans are for volunteers to go to Munazi Primary School with a group that includes RPO volunteers, IWSH staff, the Munazi Primary School principal, and plumbing, architectural and engineering volunteers who worked together to develop plans over various digital platforms as part of a remote design workshop — a first of its kind for IWSH.
Through the funds raised by the #GivingTuesday campaign and the IWSH/RPO collaboration, more than 800 children will soon have access to safe and clean drinking water, wastewater and hygiene facilities. The school’s old outdoor pit toilets did not have doors, and there are no hand-washing facilities near the toilets.
The IWSH/RPO work calls for seven toilets for girls, five for boys (plus four urinals), two for disabled students, and one each for female and male staff members. The girls’ and boys’ hygiene facilities will each have seven hand-washing taps and a low tap at each end, as well as ramps leading into the buildings. About 14,000 liters of water will be drawn from wells, disinfected and stored nearby in a water tower for flushing and hand-washing.
RPO is now finalizing engineering plans and construction drawings and will then connect its volunteers with local contractors to build the facilities.
I had a chance to spend the month of November in Ghana, Africa, a few years ago doing a similar project through the Rotary Foundation (Monroe Chapter and the Windsor/Essex Canada Chapter). The mission trip was very rewarding, and I was planning on going back in 2020, but the trip was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trip has been rescheduled and I will be returning with the president of a local college who grew up in Ghana. Over the last several years, he has been leading an effort to build a project there called “Angel City,” which has a school, housing for an orphanage, a medical clinic and housing for teachers. The plans for the campus include water wells, a water tower and a water distribution system to plumbing facilities, and a waste treatment and disposal system.
The rescheduled trip is tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2023. This would be a good venue for a future IWSH project.
• The International Code Council (ICC) hosted a Dec. 7 virtual discussion on existing building maintenance and inspections. The goal was to bring the dialogue to a global audience and to help clarify the types of resources that the building community, building owners and code administration professionals will need to ensure the continued safety of existing buildings moving forward.
One of the key takeaways from the discussion, which was attended by more than 600 people, was that while some jurisdictions already have protocols in place for existing building maintenance and inspections, most still do not.
“Overall, we are very pleased with the outcome and the discussions that arose from this event,” states Sara Yerkes, ICC senior vice president of government relations. “In the months to come, we’ll be developing nonmandatory guidelines for building safety professionals and jurisdictions to assist them in managing maintenance and inspections for existing buildings.”
One of the things I find lacking in all HUD inspections, existing building inspections and property maintenance code inspections is checking to see if the hot water temperatures are safe. The codes require the premises to be free of any unsafe conditions and this would be an easy one to require for rental housing or the sale of property to ensure the hot water flowing from bathing or showering fixtures does not exceed a safe temperature.
I find many times there is a limit-stop present that could limit the temperature, but the owner does not adjust the limit stop because it is not required after the initial installation, even though the manufacturers’ installation instructions require seasonal adjustments because of changing cold water temperatures.
The council expects to share a working document with interested parties in early 2022.
• Development of the 2024 international codes continue with Part B codes. The plumbing codes were part of the Part A code changes, but the administrative sections will be located in Part B.
The proposed code changes will be processed and published in a proposed code change document that will be uploaded to the ICC website on or after Feb. 23, 2022.
The 2022 Part B code change hearings/committees for the 2024 International Codes will include:
1. Administration. Chapter 1 of all the international codes except the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and the International Residential Code (IRC). Also includes the update of currently referenced standards in all of the 2021 codes, except the IgCC.
2. International Building Code structural provisions (IBC-S). IBC Chapters 15–25 and the International Existing Building Code (IEBC) structural provisions. Definitive tracks, codes, order of codes and track end date(s) may change based on code change volume and the creation of the hearing schedule.
3. International Existing Building Code. IEBC nonstructural provisions. Definitive tracks, codes, order of codes and track end date(s) may change based on code change volume and the creation of the hearing schedule.
4. International Energy Conservation Code (IECC-C). IECC commercial energy provisions.
5. International Energy Conservation Code (IECC-R/IRC-E). IECC residential energy provisions and IRC energy provisions in Chapter 11.
6. International Green Construction Code. Chapter 1 of the IgCC. Remainder of the code is based on the provisions of ASHRAE Standard 189.1 Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings, Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings.
7. International Residential Code (IRC-B). IRC building provisions, Chapters 1-10.
Be sure to consult the updated document for procedures to follow for the code change submittals and at the code change hearings. The document is titled “Council Policy 28 (12/3/20)” and often referred to as CP-28 for procedural revisions applicable to the code action hearings (CAH). The code hearing schedule as well as all other updates will be posted on a dedicated webpage to keep participants apprised of the in-person or virtual CAH progress/logistics.
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and recent Delta and Omicron variants, it is possible that the code hearings could get changed to virtual-only. Currently, the hearings are scheduled for March 27-April 6, 2022, at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, N.Y.
Fire Safety for Very Tall Buildings
• The ICC, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) and Springer Publishing have announced a new “Engineering Guide on Fire Safety for Very Tall Buildings.”
The guide highlights solutions to the unique safety challenges of tall, very tall, and super tall buildings. I was in the volunteer fire service for more than 33 years and served as a fire chief, fire investigator, fire officer and emergency medical technician in addition to designing fire suppression systems for buildings. This guide provides good design information learned from many recent high-rise fire incidents.
• The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) developed the international standards for measuring and defining tall buildings, and the definitions are generally recognized in the industry.
According to CTBUH, there is no absolute definition of what constitutes a tall building; the definition is subjective. It must be considered against one or more of the following categories:
1. Height context relative to neighborhood buildings. A high-rise building may be defined in the building codes differently in different jurisdictions. Some codes address buildings in excess of 75 feet (where a building exceeds the height of a fire department ladder truck) to be considered a high-rise. (A 100-foot ladder truck when extended at a proper climbing angle can typically only reach a maximum of 75 feet.)
Buildings that are considered high rise, tall, super-tall and mega-tall buildings are typically beyond the height of fire department rescue operations and typically require additional fire protection components and fire egress considerations.
2. Proportion. The proportion or volume of a building versus its height is another consideration.
3. Embracing technologies relevant to tall buildings. A building may contain technologies which can be attributed as being a product of tall, super-tall or mega-tall buildings.
— Vertical transport elevator technologies
— Structural wind bracing
— Additional fire resistance of egress stair walls
— Stairwell pressurization systems
— Fire standpipe pressure ratings
— Firefighter breathing air replenishment system stations and air risers
— Fire sprinkler systems
— Pressure-reducing valves or orifices on fire risers
— Areas of refuge for handicapped persons
— Multiple egress stairways
— Fire separations or compartments
— Water piping pressure as a product of height
— Water pressure zones (break tanks vs. high press piping)
— Pressure zones for water heaters
— Linear thermal expansion of pipe
— Horizontal sway movement of pipe
— Shear forces on pipe at wall penetrations and lower floor horizontal pipe supports
If a building can be considered as subjectively relevant to one or more of the above categories, then it may be considered a tall building. Although number of floors is a poor indicator of defining a tall building due to the changing floor-to-floor height between differing buildings and functions (e.g., office vs. residential usage), a building of 14 or more stories — or more than 165 feet (50 meters) in height — could typically be used as a threshold for a tall building.
• The 2021 edition of “Fire Safety for Very Tall Buildings” provides information on the fire safety performance of tall, very-tall and super-tall buildings. Topics featured in the engineering guide include emergency egress, fire resistance, building envelope, suppression, detection, alarms, and smoke control, with new guidance on considerations for existing buildings, energy storage systems, aerial vehicle platforms, and unique building features such as observation decks and fireworks displays.
Additional information in the guide consists of performance-based design and international practices.
“We know that very tall buildings impose unique fire protection challenges and require new engineering solutions above and beyond traditional methods [in the current codes],” notes Nicole Boston, CAE, chief executive officer of SFPE. “This engineering guide provides fire safety engineers and fire protection professionals with specific and necessary engineering principles to overcome the challenges of fire and to protect very tall buildings, their occupants, and first responders.” .
• ICC and ASHRAE have combined efforts to assist the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources in the publication of a base and stretch code titled, “2020 Massachusetts Energy Code.” The streamlined energy code is fully integrated.
Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is a key component in Massachusetts achieving its climate and energy goals, and the adoption of new and improved building codes is an integral part of its strategy. The ninth edition of the Massachusetts Building Energy Codeis based on the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code and ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2019.
• The ICC’s Plumbing, Mechanical and Fuel Gas (PMG) Technical Resources Team is growing. Recently it added Richard Anderson and Mark Fasel as technical directors to the team. Matt Sigler, PMG Executive Director for the ICC is part of the PMG Team.
The PMG Team consists of Rich Anderson, director, PMG technical resources; Jim Cika, director, PMG technical resources; Mark Fasel, director, PMG technical resources; Gary Gauthier, director, PMG technical resources; and Fred Grable, ICC senior staff engineer, Technical Services Department.