Could you imagine a day without water? Most Americans take water for granted. They turn on the tap, and clean water flows out. They flush the toilet, and dirty water goes away. What many of us take for granted, actually affects communities across the U.S. Access to clean water factors into so many aspects of our lives. While most Americans hardly think twice about the infrastructure that brings water to their homes and safely returns water to our environment – they should. The reality is, our water infrastructure is aging and failing. And many communities have lived, and are living, without water because they don’t have access to safe and reliable water systems.

The U.S. Water Alliance’s “Imagine a Day Without Water” takes place on Oct. 10. Last year, over 750 organizations came together to raise awareness and educate America about the value of water. This year, the Code Council is adding its support.

The International Code Council Family of Companies has several water conservation and efficiency resources available to assist jurisdictions, manufacturers and the public with water conservation and efficiency. The Code Council’s codes and standards have addressed water-related issues for decades, and we remain committed to working with member jurisdictions and industry partners to bring water efficient products to market, labeling new homes and structures as more water efficient, and spreading the word about the need for smart water use. Building, plumbing and green codes help guard this precious commodity for future generations through proper construction, conservation and safe disposal.

 


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We face a number of water challenges today from high demand in areas of low availability to quality issues and the disruptive effects of natural disasters. The Code Council is dedicated to helping solve these problems through modern, up-to-date building codes that lead to resilient communities, safe plumbing, efficient technologies and a well-trained, professional workforce of code officials to maintain these systems. In fact, week four of this year’s Building Safety Month focused on the all-too important issue of safeguarding our water, and offered tips for conserving water at home and how to get involved and spread awareness.

Water and the International Codes

The 2018 International Plumbing Code (IPC) incorporates innovative technologies including waterless urinals and detailed engineered designs that permit the installation of smaller, more precise water usage and water drainage systems, resulting in the savings of millions of gallons of water. The IPC is the only plumbing code that correlates with the International Energy Conservation Code — the most widely adopted energy code in the world — and for many years it has incorporated innovative technologies like waterless urinals and detail-engineered designs permitting the installation of smaller, more precise water and drainage systems, resulting in the savings of millions of gallons of water and the installation of countless miles of conduit materials.

The IPC is not just a code, but a part of a complete building safety system, providing an integral component necessary to stay current with the latest building safety technologies while meeting the public health, sanitation and safety requirements necessary for the built environment. The IPC is a performance-based code, very flexible in its approach to water saving issues and encourages innovative design, much more so than any other plumbing code.

The 2018 International Residential Code (IRC) contains many of the same water efficiency provisions that are noted in the IPC. The provisions in the IRC for collecting, storing, and using various types of no-potable water recognize the growing need for water conservation and the increase in the development of water conservation programs in many regions of the United States.

The International Green Construction Code (IgCC) contains provisions for the collection, treatment and storage and use of non-potable water in the form of onsite collected rainwater and gray water, and externally treated reclaimed water supplied to the site. In response to a call from industry and in a deal nearly two years in the making, ICC and ASHRAE last year signed a final agreement that outlined each organization’s role in the future development and maintenance of the IgCC.

The International Private Sewage Disposal Code (IPSDC), co-published with the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association, includes provisions for design, installation and inspection of private sewage disposal systems, and provides flexibility in the development of safe systems. The IPSDC facilitates the use of the latest science-based best practices and innovative technologies in safely handling onsite, decentralized wastewater, thereby reducing customers’ costs. The IPSDC also addresses inconsistencies within many regulations that dictate how decentralized systems can be designed, installed and operated.

Water and standards

The ICC/ASHRAE 700-2015 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) is the first residential green building standard to undergo the full consensus process and receive approval from the American National Standards Institute. First developed in 2008, the National Association of Home Builders, the International Code Council and ASHRAE partnered to develop the third edition of the nationally recognized standard, which was approved and published in 2016. Development of the 2018 version of the NGBS is underway, and it is expected to be approved and published in 2019.

The Rainwater Collection System Design Consensus Committee (IS-RCSDI) was appointed by the ICC Board of Directors in collaboration with the CSA Group in late 2013 and has primary responsibility for the development of the Rainwater Collection System Design and Installation Standard. The Final Ballot for the CSA B805-18/ICC 805-2018 Rainwater Harvesting Systems Standard was approved by the committee on March 11, 2018. The standard is available here for download.

The Code Council has a partnership with the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) in the development of the Water Efficiency Rating Index, which establishes a system to rate a home’s efficiency in water use. The Code Council is also a partner in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program. Products and services that earn the WaterSense label with the ICC Evaluation Service certification mark are certified to be at least 20 percent more water efficient without sacrificing performance.