Green Builder Coalition

The Torch – October 7, 2021

The Torch Offical Publication of Green Builder Coalition


Green Builder® Coalition Nearing WaterSense™ Home Certification Organization Approval

The Green Builder® Coalition, home to the residential building industry’s first and longest-running water rating system, has officially applied to be a Home Certification Organization (HCO) and is nearing acceptance into the WaterSense Labeled Homes program. Under Version 2.0 of the WaterSense Labeled Homes program, HCOs are responsible for ensuring all certified homes meet a minimum efficiency threshold. The Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)®, owned and operated by the Green Builder® Coalition, has undergone an initial technical evaluation by EPA staff and the Coalition’s application is currently being reviewed.

WERS logoBased on the initial evaluations and extensive discussions with EPA staff, it seems likely that a WERS of 67 (utilizing WaterSense baselines) would enable a project to achieve certification to WaterSense for Homes 2.0. That score would initially apply to single-family projects only.

“This application represents the first of a series of pursuits for the WERS Program,” said Green Builder® Coalition Executive Director Mike Collignon. “Once we have completed the approval process on the single-family application, we’ll then move on to seeking acceptance for multifamily projects and then projects that utilize alternative water sources.”

By itself, the WERS Program can be used to certify new and existing, single-family and multifamily projects. It can accommodate residential properties that employ rainwater, graywater, stormwater and blackwater reuse systems. It has been implemented in codes, green building programs, a financial incentive and a homebuilder’s marketing program. Using WERS to achieve WaterSense certification will pair two of the best recognized names in water efficiency.

The Green Builder® Coalition is already a WaterSense Promotional Partner. Collignon stated, “It’s time for the WERS Program to take the next step in its growth. The WERS Development Group looks forward to getting the industry’s leading water rating into the EPA WaterSense fold.”

City of Santa Barbara Sets Multifamily Score at 57

City of Santa Barbara sealOn August 5, 2021, the City of Santa Barbara, CA approved administrative guidelines for a maximum WERS of 57 for new multifamily properties seeking approval for submetered service. This represents the culmination of nearly 3 years of diligent research, review and analysis by City and Green Builder® Coalition staff. Several existing multifamily properties were examined in combination with existing code requirements.

In September 2018, the City adopted an ordinance modifying water metering regulations and incentivizing ultra-high water use efficiency projects as one path of metering compliance. Under the new ordinance, developers have more flexible water metering options by verifying their project design meets ultra-high water use efficiency standards through an independent rating institution.

To help assess the efficiency of multifamily projects, the City allowed a rating program like the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)® as a path to administer code compliance. However, to fully complete the process, the City needed to approve a maximum score. “This milestone would not have been reached without the excellent work of Madeline Wood & Dana Hoffenberg at the City of Santa Barbara and Laureen Blissard with the Green Builder® Coalition,” said Green Builder® Coalition Executive Director Mike Collignon.

The policy approval makes the City of Santa Barbara the first jurisdiction in the United States to adopt a WERS code compliance option for multifamily properties.

Coalition Charter Member Continues Winning Streak for National Award

Tim O'Brien Homes logoFor those who have been in the sustainable homebuilding space for at least 5 years, Tim O’Brien Homes is a very recognizable name. When you win a prestigious national award every year, it simply commands respect and admiration. On September 14, Tim O’Brien Homes did it yet again.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm announced the grand award winners of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) 2021 Housing Innovation Awards, the highest honor builders can receive for constructing Zero Energy Ready Homes, at the Energy & Environmental Building Alliance’s (EEBA) High Performance Home Summit. In the “Custom Homes for Buyer (> 2500 Square Feet)” category, Tim O’Brien Homes was one of 4 winners, and the only winner in the Midwest.

The award-winning, high-performance homes are so energy efficient—often 40 to 50% more efficient than typical new homes—that they can easily offset most or all the energy they consume with renewable energy.

O’Brien started his company in 2007 and just 2 years later, he was breaking barriers by building the first NAHB Certified Green homes in Wisconsin. The hardware has never stopped flowing into the trophy case, as the former Coalition Board member has gone on to win everything from Parade of Homes awards to Milwaukee Business Journal awards to Wisconsin Builders Association awards to Avid Awards to DOE Housing Innovation Awards (2018-2021).

“We couldn’t be prouder of Tim and his staff for all the wonderful work they do,” exclaimed Coalition Executive Director Mike Collignon. “Having known Tim for a decade now, his company is an extension of who he is: a high-quality individual.”

To see the full list of winners, please click here.

IAPMO Podcasts Feature Coalition Co-Founders

In 2021, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) launched “The Authority Podcast: Plumbing and Mechanical”. Hosted by Christoph Lohr, he explores the ways we can make our buildings shape us for the better. He discusses the latest trends in plumbing and mechanical safety, sustainability, and resiliency.

During the month of June, Green Builder® Coalition Co-Founders Ron Jones and Mike Collignon were featured guests during the podcast’s inaugural season.

The Authority Podcast logoIn a 2-part episode, Collignon was joined by fellow panelists Sarah Porter, Director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy; Micah Thomas, Senior Director of Program Development and Compliance at the Green Building Initiative (GBI); and Pat Sinicropi, Executive Director at the WateReuse Association. They discussed plumbing resiliency, drought prevention, and water reuse.

The very next episode was a one-on-one conversation with Jones and Lohr. They had a conversation on plumbing resiliency with a focus on sustainability and equity.

You can listen to the panel discussion in Part 1 and Part 2 of Episode 6 to hear Collignon’s comments. Jones’s conversation can be heard in Episode 7. To hear more episodes, simply click here.

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