The Truth About Plumbing Codes and Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

We at IAPMO need to address yet another unfortunate disinformation campaign falsely claiming that only one plumbing code meets this need.

Following our three-year code development cycle, the technical committee for the 2024 Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) recently approved important all-gender bathroom provisions. At the September 2022 IAPMO Association Technical Meeting Convention, the membership will have an opportunity to speak on this important change before it moves to the final stages of the process.

In the meantime, the widely-reported publication of the IAPMO/ANSI/CAN Z124.10 standard provides requirements for the much-needed privacy toilet compartments. Such an IAPMO standard will be needed for privacy compartments, and the standard is not addressed in the International Plumbing Code (IPC).

As the only plumbing code accredited by the American National Standards Institute for ensuring openness and consensus, the UPC follows a development process that involves a wide range of experts and prevents a single industry or interest group from dominating the proceedings.

All Gender Bathroom Design: Privacy, Safety, and Accessibility

Bathrooms designed for use by all genders must ensure privacy. The IAPMO/ANSI/CAN Z124.10 standard specifies the level of privacy and security for the users of water closets and urinals. This standard addresses the need for partitions to minimize the open space between stalls, with a way to signal that a stall is in use.

A recent Supply House Times article noting how the two main plumbing codes have accepted the concept of all-gender restrooms also observed how many of the design considerations for gender-neutral bathrooms also address mitigating infectious disease transmissions, brought to the forefront in 2020 when “toilet plumes” became a headline. IAPMO has a task force underway considering how to approach commercial bathroom design with a holistic view on improving privacy, safety, and accessibility by all users.

The Progressive Provisions in the Uniform Plumbing Code Benefit All Users

The UPC contains provisions not found in any other plumbing code. These progressive provisions include the most important update to plumbing system pipe sizing requirements in nearly a century, legionella prevention, scalding protection, water quality for water reuse systems, and leak detection requirements to address the shortage of water experienced by many drought-prone states. These types of provisions impact housing affordability, water efficiency and water quality at a time when they are needed most in communities across the US.

Building codes are an important part of public policy. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: attempts to obfuscate and mislead the public for a competitive advantage are not in the public interest. Everyone benefits from a more progressive, advanced, and complete plumbing code that leads in transparency while protecting the health and safety of the public.