Understanding Plumbing Systems in Commercial Buildings

Upcoming dates (1)

Jun. 5-7, 2023

Madison, WI

Course Overview

Plumbing is essential to the basic infrastructure of most buildings, but it’s not often taught in traditional degree programs. Also, specialized kitchen and laboratory requirements are increasingly costly and complex to install and maintain. By improving your understanding of the design, installation and operation of plumbing systems, including water piping, waste and vent, storm water, specialty gases, and equipment—you’ll be able to tackle these systems with ease.

Who Should Attend?

  • Mechanical system design engineers
  • Plumbing estimators and installers
  • Building code officials and inspectors
  • University and government facility operators
  • Commercial office building superintendents
  • Equipment sales and technical representatives
  • Construction managers and contractors
  • Architects and project team consultants

Additional Information

This course has been approved by the State of WI Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) for 20 hours for: Commercial Plumbing Inspector, Journeyman Plumber, and Master Plumber license holders.

Course Outline

Day 1

 Welcome and Student Introductions

 Plumbing Design Criteria

  • Historical perspective
  • Fixture count and capacity
  • Piping material specification
  • Valve and fitting selections
  • Primary equipment design
  • Sinks, toilets and bath layout

Codes and Standards

  • Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS
  • International Plumbing Code (IPC)
  • International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC)
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • Accessibility provisions (ADA, ICC, ANSI)
  • Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC)
  • Water efficiency standards (IAPMO, LEED, WELL)

Municipal Water Supply

  • Backflow Prevention and Metering
    • Non-Potable Uses
  • Requirements of Supply
    • Pressure
    • Quantity
    • Quality
  • Treatment
  • Specifications

Day 2

Domestic Water Piping  

  • Water treatment and softeners
  • Hot water heating generation equipment
    • calculations, sizing, and selection
  • Domestic water distribution
    • calculations, sizing, and routing
  • Re-circulation pumps and piping
    • calculations, sizing, and routing
  • Legionella issues
  • Pressure zones and high-rise piping

 Drainage and Venting

  • Pipe sizing, layout and traps
  • Soil and waste vent stacks
  • Floor drains and trap primers
  • Sump pumps and sewage ejectors
  • Odor mitigation measures

Storm and Rain Water

  • Site gradients and runoff
  • Catch basins and dry wells
  • Foundation drain tile
  • Landscaping and plantings
  • Irrigation and flow control
  • Stormwater harvesting

Day 3

 Natural Gas Requirements

  • Required pressure and capacity
  • Gas meters and compressors
  • Water heaters, boilers and furnaces
  • Gas-fired appliances

Plumbing Design Workshop

  • Water piping
    • Incoming service
    • Distribution piping
    • Fixture run outs
  • Drainage system
    • Vent stacks
    • Waste piping
    • Roof drainage
    • Sump and area drains

Science Lab Considerations

  • Lab sink and fume hood layout
  • Eyewash and emergency showers
  • RO / DI and purified water supply
  • Compressed air equipment and service
  • Vacuum pump piping and controls
  • Special lab waste systems

Healthcare Facility Issues          

  • Medical gas piping
  • Certification requirements
  • Vacuum and controls
  • Temperature regulation
  • Decontamination issues

Plumbing Resiliency

  • Disaster mitigation
  • Sustainability
  • Waterborne pathogens
  • Affordability and equity


"It was a very interesting course that covered a broach spectrum of topics in a way that allowed everyone in the room to comment, which was outstanding and very productive to provide different points of view."
—Dave, Master Plumber, Marshfield Clinic Health System, Marshfield, Wisconsin

"I came in with only moderate plumbing knowledge picked up on one or two projects. I feel that I have a good store of general system knowledge that I can apply going forward."
—Clayton, TKDA, St. Paul, Minnesota

"It was good to focus on plumbing principles and hear experiences from others in the industry...I can use many aspects of this course daily in my job, especially for design-build projects."
—Brian, Assistant Project Manager, J.F. Ahern Co., Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

"I came in with the hope I would learn about all the different kinds of systems and their related equipment, and I now have a much better understanding of both."
Brad, Sherman Mechanical, Cary, Illinois

"Learned all of the basics of plumbing systems, as promised...Very good course, glad I took it."
—Teddy, Mechanical Engineer, Kohler Co., Kohler, Wisconsin

"I liked how there was a lot of knowledgeable people within the class, and created some great dialogue...Learned a lot from instructors and classmates."
—Greg, Plumbing Estimator, Butters-Fetting Co., Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Mark Malkin

Mark P. Malkin, PE, is a Program Director in the Office of Interdisciplinary Professional Programs in the College of Engineering at UW-Madison. He is a registered Professional Engineer with over 25 years of experience in university facilities project management and HVAC systems design. His course offerings include HVAC, plumbing and fire protection fundamentals, building code reviews, and design and operation of science labs, data centers, museums and libraries. Mark received his bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, and his MS in Mechanical Engineering from UW–Madison.

Christoph Lohr

Christoph Lohr, PE, CPD, has over a decade of experience in designing plumbing systems for healthcare, laboratory, hospitality, sports, and university projects. Christoph's current responsibilities as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for IAPMO is to identify long term, high impact projects, develop a business case for them, bring resources to bear, and execute them for maximum results. Christoph's professional activities in the industry extend into multiple volunteer associations, of which he has also assumed leadership roles setting strategy and direction for teams including ASPE Phoenix Chapter, ASPE Society, ASPE Legionella Working Group, ASHRAE Committees, PIPE Trust of Arizona, and IAPMO's Safe Building Reopening Best Practices. Christoph consistently looks to find long-term, holistic solutions that positively impact public health and safety, particularly in the world of water and plumbing.

Doug Nelson

Douglas Nelson, PE, has passion for developing engineers to be successful in the marketplace. He wants all students to be job-ready when the arrive at their chosen career. He does this as an Assistant Professor in the Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management Department at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He has been involved in various aspects of the plumbing industry for approximately 40 years. In addition to teaching plumbing and fire protection he manages learning in both the Civil Engineering and Construction Management areas.

Cory Powers

Cory Powers, CPD, is an engineering principal at HGA in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a background in mechanical design, having specialized in plumbing, medical gas and fire protection systems. A ready source of knowledge and information, Cory provides leadership, planning and coordination to make sure clients receive long-term benefits for their investment. He focuses on sustainable outcomes, researching and analyzing available and new technologies that provide energy-efficient, long-lasting and cost-effective solutions. Cory is a Certified Plumbing Designer, a registered Designer of Engineering Systems in the State of Wisconsin, and a member of ASPE. He is currently a lecturer at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, having earned a BS in Architectural Engineering Mechanical Systems there.

Upcoming dates (1)

Program Director

Mark Malkin

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