Today, the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) certified the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on crosslinked polyethylene, or PEX, tubing, and unanimously adopted regulations approving PEX water distribution systems into the California Plumbing Code. The new PEX California plumbing code guidelines are a huge leap forward for PEX as it all but guarantees that this new system begins its journey into supplanting copper piping and even CPVC piping in the residential plumbing industry.
The new PEX California plumbing code and regulations take effect Aug. 1, 2009. Local jurisdictions are always free to adopt their own code to use PEX in new and remodel construction before any statewide adoption. “Today’s decision represents a victory for the trade and for the consumer in California,” says Rich Houle, Uponor associate product manager, commercial. “Contractors and consumers finally have access to an environmentally superior product that will provide a durable solution to the state’s aggressive water conditions, while meeting California’s high standards for drinking-water quality.”
Did they say “aggressive” water conditions? Some states, like California and Nevada, could compare their water to battery acid when it comes to tearing apart copper piping and brass fittings. PEX is going to help a lot of people keep their homes from having to have plumbing repairs every ten years due to corrosion issues.
Uponor has been actively pursuing the adoption of PEX tubing in the California Plumbing Code since 2000. Three years of litigation resulted in a decision by the CBSC to conduct a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on PEX tubing and its impact on air quality, water quality, and performance. In addition, the report evaluates PEX tubing installation, use, and disposability, as well as manufacturing processes in the areas of waste, recycling, energy consumption, and natural resources.
Conducted from October 2007 through December 2008, the EIR states that the PEX California plumbing code adoption with proposed regulations would be “an environmentally superior action with respect to public health and hazards, water quality and air quality.” The bottom line is it’s going to save companies and municipalities lots of money and hassle. While this new change had to be wrapped up in an “environmental” wrapper in order to make progress in union- and eco-California, the real deal is that PEX is light-years quicker to install, less, expensive, corrosion-resistant and an all-around better choice for most residential and commercial applications we can dream up.
Currently, 180 municipalities and counties within the state have approved the use of PEX tubing as an alternate material to copper and other materials used for plumbing piping. Millions of feet of PEX tubing are in use in water distribution systems in residential and commercial applications throughout California. Under the new state plumbing code, the following agencies will adopt regulations for the use of PEX tubing in the types of construction under their jurisdictions:
- Housing and Community Development (HCD) — residential construction, hotels, motels, etc.
- Division of State Architect–Structural Safety (DSA-SS) — state-owned buildings, universities, etc.
- Building Standards Commission (BSC) — commercial construction not state-owned (retail)
- Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) — hospitals, health care facilities, etc.