EPA Releases WaterSense New Home Specification

Posted by Glen Folland on January 17, 2013
EPA Releases WaterSense New Home Specification

Beginning this month, developers and home builders have a new opportunity to highlight green building achievements applied toward their projects. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the EPA WaterSense New Home Specification. This Specification establishes criteria for new homes and multifamily occupancies to be labeled under the WaterSense label, which is similar to existing EPA programs EnergyStar and Indoor AirPlus.
To earn the WaterSense label on residential occupancies, applicants will be required to meet the criteria of the Specification and be built by WaterSense builder partners, covering both indoor and outdoor water use reduction. Indoor water use requires that all toilets, urinals, bath sinks, kitchen sinks, and showerheads be EPA WaterSense labeled and that all dishwashers and clothes washers be EnergyStar qualified.
Clothes washers must also conform to water use limits. The Specification includes requirements for landscape water use, pools, spas, landscape design, and ornamental water features. Irrigation systems must be designed or installed by a WaterSense irrigation partner and must include a weather- or soil moisture- based, WaterSense-labeled controller.

California's Green Building Code, CALGreen, put the WaterSense label within reach for new developments, since flow rates for bathroom and kitchen faucets, water closets, urinals and showerheads are identical to those of the WaterSense program. CalGreen requires that water closets be WaterSense labeled, and the 2013 code will require the same of showerheads. CalGreen and WaterSense both require the use of weather- or soil moisture-based irrigation controllers.
Like EPA's EnergyStar, EPA's WaterSense has the potential to become widely recognized by consumers; for example, EnergyStar has been marketed by the EPA for 20 years, and the EnergyStar label is recognized by 84% of those surveyed (Consortium for Energy Efficiency 2011 ENERGY STAR Household Awareness Survey Report). Using a similar approach, the EPA WaterSense label is positioned to deliver trusted performance criteria, thus making code compliance and water efficiency goals easier to achieve.

You can view a video message about the WaterSense new homes specification here.


Glen Folland, LEED AP (BD+C, Homes), CEPE is the assistant project manager for VCA Green.

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