Understanding Plumbing Systems in Commercial Buildings

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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

The June 2021 offering of this course has two attendance options, face-to-face or online. Click VIEW DETAILS under Upcoming dates for more information.

Course Outline

Day 1

Welcome and 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
  • Computer aided estimating

Storm Water and Site Features

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

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)

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

Day 2

Municipal Water Supply

  • Backflow prevention and metering
    • Non-potable uses
  • Requirement of supply 
    • Pressure
    • Quantity 
    • Quality
  • Treatment
  • Specifications

Domestic Water Piping

  • Water treatment and softeners
  • Pressure reducing valves
  • Hot water heating equipment
  • Dual wall heat exchangers
  • Flooded vessel exchangers
  • Re-circulation pumps and piping
  • Legionella preventive measures

Water Conservation 

  • LEED green building performance criteria (USGBC)
  • Rain water harvesting
  • Gray water reuse
  • Condensate capture
  • Waterless fixtures
  • On-site waste treatment

Natural Gas Requirements

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

Day 3

Plumbing Design Workshop

  • Water piping
    • incoming service
    • distribution piping
    • fixture runouts
  • Drainage system 
    • vent stacks
    • waste piping
    • roof drainage
    • sumps and area drains 

Science Lab Design

  • Lab planning 
  • NIH references
  • Waste treatment
  • Vacuum systems
  • Special gasses 
  • Ultrapure water 

UW–Madison Site Visits

  • Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery
  • Testing of backflow prevention device

Specific Facility Considerations

  • Health Care
    • Medical gas piping
    • Certification requirements
    • Vacuum and controls
    • Decontamination issues
  • High-Rise Construction
    • Water pressure and booster pumps
    • Gravity flow and piping distribution
  • Commercial Kitchens
    • Layout of appliances
    • Fats, oil and grease


"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 UW–Madison Department of Engineering Professional Development (EPD). He is a registered Professional Engineer with over 25 years of combined experience in university construction project management and HVAC systems design. His course offerings in the Facilities segment of EPD include HVAC and plumbing fundamentals, building and property maintenance code review, 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 master's in Mechanical Engineering from UW–Madison.

Christoph Lohr

Christoph Lohr, PE, CPD, LEED AP BD+C
Christoph Lohr has over a decade of experience in designing plumbing systems for healthcare, laboratory, hospitality, sports, and university projects. He has a reputation as a results-oriented expert. Christoph's current responsibilities as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for IAPMO is to identify long term, high impact projects, developing a business case for them, bring recourses to bear, and executing them for maximum results. He has a concentrated focus in honing his personal and organization's strategy on possible breakthrough points, which has led to improved effectiveness and growth.
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, IAPMO's Safe Building Reopening Best Practices among others. Additionally, he has been involved in numerous strategic planning initiatives to help organizations he has belonged to in improving their overall effectiveness. It is with this mindset that Christoph consistently looks to find long-term, holistic solutions that positively impact public health and safety, particularly in the world of water and plumbing.

Douglas Nelson

Douglas Nelson, P.E. 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

Upcoming dates (1)

Jun. 15-17, 2021

Madison, WI
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Program Director

Mark Malkin