Building owners benefit from continuous development in all areas of the industry, including the introduction of new products, improvement to existing products, and the development and revision of codes, standards, and professional qualifications.
There are a number of developments in software and hardware that can be utilized to assist with communication between plumbing design engineers and plumbing contractors. Owners also receive advantages from these tools, which includes utilization of Building Information Modeling (BIM). A BIM model of a facility can follow different levels of development (LOD), ranging from placing a generic block within the model to represent the size and location of a water heater to providing the water heater with detailed points of connection and specific manufacturer and model information. At the completion of construction, the owner can be provided with the BIM model in addition to the drawings. This is a valuable tool that can be used throughout the life of a building – from assisting with maintenance to future renovation projects.
In addition to the documents and electronic files delivered to the owner at project completion, the equipment installed within the facilities is frequently analyzed by manufacturers to provide new developments conforming to industry trends, standards, and owner requirements. Two examples of recent product developments are aimed at easing installation, maintenance, and maintaining satisfactory appearance of a mixing valve conforming with ASSE 1070 / ASME A112.1070 / CSA B125.70 (“ASSE 1070”), Performance Requirements for Water Temperature Limiting Devices, when installed at a lavatory.
Coordination between the engineer, architect, and owner is required to ensure an approved and accessible installation location for an ASSE 1070 mixing valve. One product on the market contains an ASSE 1070 mixing valve within the faucet itself. The owner has the option to utilize a battery powered or hard-wired model, and all required maintenance can be completed by removing the faucet covers.
Similarly, electric point of use water heaters with included ASSE 1070 mixing valves are also available. These units were designed with consideration to ease of installation and available space, concealing all components within an easily removable cover for any required maintenance. Such water heaters and water heater packages would be able to conform to the new ASSE Standard #1084, Performance Requirements for Water Heaters with Temperature Limiting Capacity.
As new products are introduced to the industry, the standards in place to enhance product safety and reliability for end users must be reviewed. Existing standards are revised, or new product standards may be required. Product standards are developed by volunteers who participate in working groups – representation from individuals in all areas of the industry is required. A list of the latest ASSE product standard revisions and current working groups forming, along with an application to apply for one of the working groups, can be located at www.asse-plumbing.org.
Professional qualifications standards and certifications are also continuously revised and developed. ASSE certifications help building owners, employers, and jurisdictions identify personnel who have received required training and are qualified to work within buildings or provide building inspection. A list of ASSE’s professional qualifications standards and certifications, along with the current working groups forming, can also be found on the ASSE Website.
The latest PQ standard to be published is the ASSE/IAPMO/ANSI Series 12000, Professional Qualifications Standard for Infection Control Risk Assessment for All Building Systems. Individuals earning this certification will learn the knowledge and skills needed to help protect the health and safety of themselves, building occupants, building employees, and various healthcare facilities’ clinical-related operations from pathogens and other potentially infectious materials that may be present in their workplaces. Plumbing design engineers can discuss requiring this certification with healthcare facilities (if not already required by the facility) and include language within the specifications to require that contractors on the project be certified.
Ultimately, owners can benefit from improvements to the design and construction process, as well as product development and improvements to equipment. My first column in Working Pressure discussed a lack of communication between the plumbing contractor and plumbing design engineer – in order to fully realize the potential from new developments and technology, improved communication is required.
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