North American plumbing organizations meet

Plumbing organizations in the United States and Canada gathered in Chicago to discuss new standards and codes and ideas for their profession.


For the first time, leading North American plumbing organizations came together on to discuss current issues impacting the plumbing community. Stakeholders represented included plumbers, contractors, engineers, inspectors, code officials, standards development organizations, and manufacturers. The meeting was facilitated by the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) and was held at the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) facility in Chicago.

The key issue discussed by the group was a presentation on electronic (hands-free) faucets provided by Johns Hopkins University staff at a recent national conference and the subsequent media coverage. During the June 7th meeting, the participants reviewed the Johns Hopkins presentation based on the limited public information available and also heard presentations from Dr. Paul Sturman, PE, from the Center for Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University, who spoke on biofilms; Doug Erickson from the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), who discussed the status of a project that is surveying hospitals on their use of electronic faucet systems; and Jim Mann, Executive Director of the Handwashing Leadership Forum.

The following conclusions and recommended actions resulted from the meeting:

  • The use of electronic faucets provides significant benefit by reducing the potential of cross-contamination from faucet handles to healthcare providers’ hands.
  • Broad industry participation (manufacturers, engineers, subject-matter experts, and installers) early in any research process would enhance the research regarding accuracy and results.
  • Full support was given to the position statement recently published by ASHE and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).
  • The ASPE Research Foundation will coordinate research projects designed to address questions raised by the Johns Hopkins presentation for the future.
  • A separate position statement on the use of electronic faucets will be developed by the group for future release.

While this meeting was the first of its kind, it will reportedly not be the last, as significant benefits resulted from the cross-industry communication on the issue.

“No matter what area of the plumbing community meeting attendees represented, there was one common focus from all: a commitment to providing plumbing systems that help protect public health and safety,” stated Jim Kendzel, MPH, CAE, Executive Director/CEO of ASPE. “It is our hope that this highly successful meeting will become a foundation for future positive, interactive dialogue among those groups directly impacting plumbing in North America.”

Organizations represented at the meeting included:

  • Alliance for Water Efficiency
  • American Backflow Prevention Association
  • American Society of Plumbing Engineers
  • ASPE Research Foundation
  • Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating
  • Canadian Standards Association
  • International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials
  • International Code Council
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America/Plumbing Contractors of America
  • NSF International
  • Plumbing Contractors Association of Chicago and Cook County
  • Plumbing Manufacturers International
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
  • Underwriters Laboratories

- Edited by Chris Vavra, Consulting-Specifying Engineer,

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