On May 11, Austin Energy announced updates to their esteemed green building program. Included in those revisions was the inclusion of WERS as a points-earning option within the water chapter of the single-family guidebook.
Section 5 requires WaterSense for Homes certification and is worth 3 points. Through Austin Energy, WERS is one of the approved methods for showing compliance to the EPA’s program. Of course, by its very nature, WERS would also demonstrate compliance with the other sections of Austin Energy’s Green Building program’s water chapter.
“It’s truly an honor to have WERS approved by the longest-running green building program in the United States, but all the credit goes to Austin Energy, under the leadership of Heidi Kasper,” said Executive Director Mike Collignon. “Similar to the state of Vermont, they learned about WERS and added it to their green building program completely of their own volition. I think that further demonstrates the growing market awareness and adoption of the WERS Program.”
The new standards will go into effect for projects submitted on or after Monday, June 22, 2020.
While the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)® is currently only cited in the single-family guidebook, the hope is that it will be added to the multifamily guidebook in the next round of revisions. “In looking at the multifamily guidebook, it seems to me that WERS fits seamlessly,” stated Collignon.
WERS is now allowed in two municipal building codes (Santa Fe, NM and Santa Barbara, CA), cited in a New Mexico state-level tax credit, is the basis for the WRI in the 2020 National Green Building Standard and is on track to be incorporated as a compliance path in Built Green Canada, the Vermont energy code and WaterSense for Homes 2.0.
The Green Builder® Coalition recently celebrated its 5-year anniversary as a WaterSense Promotional Partner. Right now, our partner needs some assistance.
On April 10, there was a notice published in the Federal Register, soliciting public comments and information on consumer satisfaction with the WaterSense program and its labeled products. You can submit your comments and/or information by clicking here.
To assist in this effort, the Alliance for Water Efficiency has provided some excellent information.
WaterSense is a voluntary labeling program that has saved more than 3.4 trillion gallons of water since its inception in 2006. That’s more than the amount of water used by all U.S. households for 4 months! The program has also saved more than $84.2 billion in water and energy bills in that same timeframe. Without WaterSense, 462.5 billion kWh of electricity would not have been saved. That’s a year’s worth of power to more than 44.4 million American homes. (Statistics are as of 2018, according to EPA). With an annual budget of only $2 million, WaterSense has an incredible return on investment for taxpayers.
Specifically regarding the WaterSense labeled products, an analysis of the 1999 and 2016 Residential End Uses of Water Studies showed that toilets, showerheads and faucets have become more efficient, but contrary to President Trump’s December 2019 comments, the use of these fixtures has not changed. If homeowners were unhappy with the performance of their more efficient fixtures, that would lead them to use them more… and that’s just not happening.
Please reply to the request for comments with your personal experiences using WaterSense products. You can also support WaterSense by reaching out to your respective Congressional representatives. Just remember to do so by June 9.
Log on to our Facebook page and share your opinions.