Soon India's plumbers could become ‘accredited professionals' with the training being imparted by the GreenPlumbers U.S. programme, says Megan Lehtonen in an interview with Ranjani Govind

Every single time I step foot into ‘Incredible India', I am enlightened with its culture and kindness, says Megan Lehtonen, Director of Business Development, IAPMO (International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials), a non-profit organisation working worldwide in the sphere of sustainable development. For experts though, the lack of green plumbing practices in India would make it further incredible as Megan says “it's critical” to address this need for getting sustainable.

Megan, at the forefront of IAPMO's initiatives worldwide, says its presence in India was to make the country focus on codes and standards within the plumbing and mechanical industry to protect the health and safety of citizens. “Since our arrival, we have been imparting globally recognised training in plumbing pan-India,” she says. “We will ensure that these codes, standards, and products in plumbing are on a par with the global market to give the people of India confidence in the delivery and consumption of water.”

Earlier, as President of GreenPlumbers, U.S., (in collaboration with the original GreenPlumbers group in Australia), Megan was instrumental in establishing GreenPlumbers as the ‘green' standard for the plumbing industry in the U.S., (with particular emphasis on water conservation) by training over 3,500 plumbers in 42 States in the first year.

It is with IAPMO that Megan brought the GreenPlumbers programme to India. Workshops began in March 2010, and to date, over 100 GreenPlumbers Accredited Specialists have been trained in four regions.

Megan believes that plumbers can help change the world, and she is dedicated to establishing the GreenPlumbers Training Programme in countries around the globe.

Megan was presented with an outstanding achievement award by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2009 for GreenPlumbers' contribution to environmental education.

PropertyPlus spoke to Megan Lehtonen on several sustainable building aspects and how much plumbing contributes to the idea.

Given the fact that you are associated with programmes from GreenPlumbers, do you feel that the construction segment, with respect to plumbing in India, is way behind? Do we urgently need to catch up with newer technologies used worldwide?

The Indian Plumbing Association has been playing a very important role in sensitising the industry to green practices. The entry of several renowned international plumbing product manufacturers into the Indian market now allows the end-users to choose from a wide variety of water-conserving plumbing fixtures. IPA, in partnership with the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), published a Green Plumbing Code Supplement-India in February, 2010.

The IPA-IAPMO partnership is now conducting workshops to create an army of Green Plumbers-India (GPI).Green plumbing practices are being implemented as part of the overall concept of ‘Green Buildings' which is propagated by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).

“The IGBC criteria for Green Buildings have water efficiency as an integral part. Requirements include water-efficient landscaping, water-efficient air-conditioning systems, innovative waste-water technologies and water use reduction by use of water-efficient fixtures.

Since storage, treatment, conveyance and distribution of water consumes energy, conservation of water also results in conservation of energy and importantly, reduction in the quantum of used (waste) water to be disposed of. As the concept of green buildings is gradually being accepted as a critical necessity rather than an option, there is an increased focus on green plumbing as well.

Elaborate on what really goes into making plumbing procedures green and sustainable. Are the practices termed green, or is it anything to do with the material and equipment? Or is it to do with plumbing design?

Saving water and energy reduces the environmental impact. For example, the transportation of water can account for as much as 20 per cent of a region's electrical usage. Saving water saves energy, and everybody benefits. Plumbing professionals are incredibly skilled and knowledgeable already. GPI challenges them to look at their careers in a different way by extending their education to include training related to new technology and advanced conservation techniques.

For example, green plumbing methods can help bring down ‘flush water' consumption from six litres to four litres. The ‘shower water' consumption can be reduced to 7.8 litres per minute from 10 litres per minute. Every country needs to save water, and the plumbing industry is a critical part of the solution.

As President of GreenPlumbers (U.S.) you were instrumental in establishing your organisation as the ‘green' standard in the U.S. Could you explain how you went about this?

A backgrounder about how much it has helped America's construction scene would be convenient to understand. After seeing how this programme benefited a country like Australia — a country that had seen a decade-long severe drought and this programme helped to cut the water usage by over 50 per cent — we knew that the U.S. would greatly benefit from a programme that would not only bring water and energy savings to the country, but allow the industry experts to be up-to-date on the latest technologies and practices.

The welcome to the programme in the U.S. was tremendous, as there was a great demand for this kind of an agenda to help plumbers. As deliverers of water they became ‘advocates' for water and energy conservation.

It helped consumers understand the issue better. In the first year alone, the GreenPlumbers training courses became the industry standard throughout the country with the governments, institutions, and industry immediately recognising the need for this type of a programme.

Over 100 Accredited Specialists have been trained in four regions by the IAPMO GreenPlumbers programme in India after the workshops you had in March 2010. What would this small number mean to us right now? Will the yearly training help bring about a movement where plumbing is certified?

GreenPlumbers is already training several instructors who will lead a nationwide schedule of four-day training sessions, educating a minimum of 1,500 to 2,000 plumbing engineers/contractors.

Upon successful completion of the training, demonstrated by the passing of a review exam, students will receive a wallet card and wall certificate identifying them as a GreenPlumber Accredited Professional.

GreenPlumbers comprises five courses (32 hours total) that includes training in everything — solar hot water, how to conduct a detailed 50-point water audit on homes and businesses etc.

The GreenPlumbers training programmes are designed to assist students, engineers, plumbers and others in understanding their role in relation to environmental and public health issues and to provide their customers with up-to-date information and advice on latest technologies, household practices, and energy-water-cost to environmental impact.

The benefits of becoming a ‘GreenPlumbers India Accredited Specialist' is that you get access to statistics on water and energy and you learn more on conservation methods and products.


The ideal guideApril 6, 2012