WERS Program Featured on Green Gab Podcast

Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition and Chair of the WERS Development Group, sat down with Marla and Tony, co-hosts of the Green Gab podcast, a few months ago to discuss water efficiency. While they covered topics like drought, desalination and shrinking aquifers, they also discussed solutions like rainwater harvesting, ultra-high efficiency toilets and the importance of measurement with programs like WERS.

To listen to the recently released 42-minute podcast, please click here and enjoy it during your commute or workout.

City of Santa Fe to Require WERS Starting March 1

City of Santa FeBeginning on March 1, 2017, the City of Santa Fe will require all new single-family residential projects to provide a preliminary Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)® of 70 or less when applying for a permit. The same project will then need to supply a final WERS of 70 or less in order to receive a certificate of occupancy.

“This is a landmark decision by the City of Santa Fe, as no other jurisdiction has ever adopted a performance-based water efficiency requirement”, stated Green Builder® Coalition Executive Director Mike Collignon. “With the support of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association, the Water Conservation Committee and others, the City was able to craft and implement a forward-thinking policy that preserves design freedom and product choice, while ensuring the City moves in a water-efficient direction.”

In order to help the City execute this initiative, local building analysts are stepping up. Steve Vollstedt of HERS-NM, LLC attended the inaugural WERS Verifier course in March 2016. After passing the written and field exams, and performing his probationary verifications, he became the first accredited WERS Verifier.

Vollstedt is no stranger to a jobsite. He has conducted hundreds of HERS ratings and has reviewed over 1,000 certification submissions on behalf of the Build Green New Mexico program. Vollstedt is also a National Green Building Standard-accredited Green Verifier. When the opportunity to add water analysis presented itself, he felt it was a service offering that would be vital to his community. “Water conservation and efficiency is arguably more critical to our environment than energy efficiency”, Vollstedt asserted. “We can create electrical energy with cost-effective, clean energy-producing systems, such as photovoltaics and wind generators. There is no practical or cost-effective way to produce or replace water resources that we are rapidly depleting and polluting.”

Vollstedt is the first in a line of WERS Verifiers ready to assist the City. In the coming weeks, we’ll feature more Santa Fe building professionals working to ensure the sustainability of their City.

Green Builder® Coalition Earns Service Mark for WERS from USPTO

The Green Builder® Coalition recently received the official service mark for the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)® from the United States Patent & Trademark Office. The process, which took 2 years to complete, was successful thanks to the diligent collaboration of Coalition staff and a national legal firm specializing in intellectual property.

Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition, said, “This milestone is just further validation of the WERS Program in the United States. What originated and is now established in New Mexico will spread to other areas of the U.S. When it does, the building industry will know they are using the leading residential water efficiency program.”

WERS Educational Sessions at Industry Conferences

Here is the list of upcoming WERS conference sessions:

  • 2017 National Home Performance Conference (formerly known as ACI) – 10:30am and 3:30pm on March 20, 2017 in Nashville, TN
  • WaterCon 2017 – 2:30pm on March 22, 2017 in Springfield, IL
  • NMWCA – 12:00pm on April 13, 2017 in Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe Taking Steps To Be Leader In Water Efficiency

City of Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NM – The City of Santa Fe is nearing the finish line on the road to become the first municipality in the nation to integrate a performance-based water efficiency requirement in its building code. The adoption of the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS) would be part of a larger update to the City’s residential green building code. To view the proposed bill, please click here.

According to Kim Shanahan, Executive Officer of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association, “Santa Fe area homebuilders recognized years ago that our community’s future growth was tied to the water supply. If we can’t stretch our limited supply of water, we can’t continue to grow and the building industry would suffer.”

For the past year, these changes have been reviewed and discussed at multiple public hearings. The Sustainable Santa Fe Commission was the first to approve the residential green building code updates, followed by the Planning Commission, the Public Works Committee, the Water Conservation Committee, the Finance Committee and the Public Utilities Committee. The City Council is set to hold another public hearing at City Hall, 200 Lincoln Avenue in Santa Fe at 7pm on Wednesday, October 26th. The Council is expected to make a final decision in early November.

Green Builder® Coalition Executive Director Mike Collignon said, “Santa Fe is taking an unprecedented step in adopting a performance-based requirement, and should be commended for it. By going with a performance-based approach instead of a prescriptive requirement, Santa Fe is giving its design/build community greater design and product flexibility than any other city in the country.”

WERS is a predictive, performance-based approach to residential water efficiency and water resource management. The WERS is the culmination of calculations that consider the loading from principal plumbing fixtures, clothes washers, structural waste, and outdoor water management. Potential rainwater and greywater catchment are also calculated. Applicable for both new and existing single-family and multifamily residential properties, it uses a scoring scale of zero to 100, with zero being the most desirable and 100 representing the baseline home.

WERS Verifier Training to Return to Santa Fe

SFCC logo

Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) will be the site of the 2nd WERS Verifier training class. Held October 26-28, the class will run from 9am to 5pm each day. There will be a mixture of classroom learning and field training, followed by a written exam and field exam. The class pre-requisites are highly recommended for all students.

“We incorporated feedback from the first class, and have made the second class even more interactive,” said EnergySmart Academy Director Amanda Hatherly. “Students really benefit from the hands-on, field-based sections of the training, where they can actively practice what they have been learning with immediate instructor feedback.”

If you are interested in attending the course at SFCC, please click here for more information, including a list of pre-requisites. For registration information, please e-mail Amanda Hatherly with SFCC.

About EnergySmart Academy

The EnergySmart Academy at Santa Fe Community College is a nationally recognized training center specializing in energy efficiency, green building and sustainable technology trainings. As well as offering Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) accredited clean energy programs, Building Performance Institute (BPI) and RESNET trainings, staff have been involved in the development of the WERS protocol and now are offering the first WERS training courses in the country. For more, visit www.energysmartacademy.com.

Green Builder Coalition Signs MOU with NGWA

NGWA logoThe Green Builder® Coalition has signed a 2-year agreement with the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) on the promotion of sustainable groundwater practices through the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS) program.

NGWA’s mission is to advance groundwater knowledge and the success of their members through education and outreach; advocacy; cooperation and information exchange; and enhancement of professional practices.

Kevin McCray, CEO of the NGWA, said, “NGWA seeks partners to help us explain the importance of the resource and the things we each can do to use the resource wisely, including among our homes, our farms, and in industry. We are excited to partner with The Green Builder® Coalition to provide promotional assistance on the benefits of sustainable groundwater practices as a way to further water efficiency.”

“One of the big themes of the WERS Program is to utilize the water that falls on the site. For rural homeowners, this is vitally important,” said Coalition Executive Director Mike Collignon. “It makes a lot of sense for us to partner with NGWA, since both organizations have a message that is relevant to a variety of audiences, from individual well owners to municipal planners.”

The agreement calls for support of “Protect Your Groundwater Day”, as well as cross-promotion of NGWA and WERS events to members of NGWA and The Coalition. There will also be a session on WERS at National Groundwater Week, December 6-8, 2016 in Las Vegas.

Since February 2014, The Coalition has helped develop the WERS program for new and existing residential properties. It was first used in November 2015 to help a New Mexico homebuilder save significant time and money on his pursuit of a building permit. The first WERS Verifier training course was held in March 2016, with more coming throughout 2016.

First WERS Class Sold Out

SFCC logo

March 3, 2016 – Santa Fe Community College’s EnergySmart Academy has announced that the inaugural WERS training course, scheduled for March 8-10, has reached capacity. In fact, there are currently two students on the waitlist. Seeing this demand, SFCC anticipates another WERS training course later in 2016.

“Santa Fe Community College is delighted that our first WERS class has had so much interest, not just from Santa Fe but around the state and nation,” said Amanda Hatherly, Director of the EnergySmart Academy.

“We figured interest in the WERS class would be strong in New Mexico, where WERS is cited in the compliance rules for the state’s extremely popular sustainable building tax credit,” said Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition. “Interestingly, one-third of the class attendees are from outside the state.”

Discussions are already underway to hold WERS training courses in Florida, Georgia and Illinois. “We believe there is a pent-up demand for water efficiency across the country, but it’s hard to know where to start if there are no benchmarks”, Collignon added. “The WERS program provides a snapshot of where we are, so we can better formulate a path to increased water efficiency.”

In addition to a soon-to-be-released online course component offered by SFCC, The Coalition will continue to work with SFCC and other educational partners to expand the number of in-person training opportunities across the United States. To request more information on an in-person course at SFCC, please contact Amanda Hatherly at 505-428-1805 or Amanda.hatherly@sfcc.edu.

About EnergySmart Academy
The EnergySmart Academy at Santa Fe Community College is a nationally recognized training center specializing in energy efficiency, green building and sustainable technology trainings. As well as offering Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) accredited clean energy programs, Building Performance Institute (BPI) and RESNET trainings, staff have been involved in the development of the WERS protocol and now are offering the first WERS training courses in the country. For more, visit www.sfcc.edu/nm_energysmart_academy.

New Mexico Allows WERS Program for Sustainable Building Tax Credit Compliance

February 24, 2016 – Since 2009, the state of New Mexico has offered a sustainable building tax credit to its builders. It has been a strong driver of sustainable homebuilding throughout the state. The program, operated by Build Green New Mexico, is both very popular and lucrative, with a maximum tax credit of $13,000 per house. So it was no surprise that the program ran out of money well ahead of schedule. When the state legislature was asked to extend the tax credit, state politicians stipulated that the water efficiency requirement be increased.

Starting on January 1, 2017, an “owner of a building in New Mexico that has been constructed, renovated or manufactured to be a sustainable residential building and that receives certification… may receive a certificate of eligibility for a new sustainable building tax credit”. When the owner files their documentation, they will be allowed to attach a WERS report to show compliance with the new water efficiency requirement. The WERS program joins Build Green New Mexico and LEED for Homes as compliance paths for water.

Kim Shanahan, Executive Officer of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association, was a big proponent of WERS’ inclusion in the tax credit extension. “The original language in the legislation simply said a new home had to meet EPA WaterSense. But WaterSense only measures products and only few products at that. We knew we needed something that could account for all water usage, no matter the product labeling, and for both inside and outside the house. The WERS tool does exactly that,” Shanahan explained.

“The state’s decision to include the WERS program is a testament to how comprehensive and robust WERS is, and it really legitimizes the 2+ years of work the development group has put into WERS” said Green Builder® Coalition Executive Director Mike Collignon. “We look forward to supporting all New Mexican homebuilders who choose to utilize this compliance path.” The inaugural WERS training course will take place March 8-10 at the Santa Fe Community College. To enroll in the class, please contact Amanda Hatherly.

Since February 2014, The Coalition has helped develop the WERS program for new and existing residential properties. It was first used in November 2015 to help a New Mexico homebuilder save significant time and money on his pursuit of a local building permit.

NAHB Passes Resolution Supporting Voluntary Water Efficiency Measures

January 27, 2016 – The National Association of Home Builders’ Board of Directors passed a resolution on January 21, 2016 supporting voluntary water efficiency measures. The resolution, approved by voice vote with no opposition, provides state and local homebuilders associations the guidance necessary as they develop their own local water conservation policies.

“Two important concepts in the NAHB resolution sprung from the experience Santa Fe builders have undergone in recent years as Santa Fe significantly lowered its water consumption”, according to Kim Shanahan, Executive Officer of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association. “One is that any new home must offset its proposed water consumption by proving other measures have been taken that permanently reduce the water system usage by an equal or greater amount – such as switching out older high flow toilets with low-flow toilets. The second concept has been the development of the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS), which is a predictive, water consumption calculation tool that proves to a jurisdiction what the builder claims is likely to be true.”

The final paragraph of the resolution reads:

“Be it further resolved that NAHB encourage the development and voluntary use of water calculation tools that account for total water consumption both within the structure(s) and the overall property and include both delivered potable water and water from precipitation.”

Both the WERS Development Group and Green Builder® Coalition staff endorse NAHB’s actions on this vital issue. “We applaud Kim Shanahan’s leadership to address this growing concern amongst both homebuilders and communities,” said Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition. “He initiated this resolution in June 2015, and has been an advocate for water efficiency for years.”

Since February 2014, The Coalition has helped develop the Water Efficiency Rating Score for new and existing residential properties. It was first used in November 2015 to help a New Mexico homebuilder save significant time and money on his pursuit of a building permit.

WERS (www.wers.us) is a predictive, performance-based approach to residential water efficiency and water resource management. The WERS is the culmination of calculations that consider the loading from principal plumbing fixtures, clothes washers, structural waste, and outdoor water management. Potential rainwater and greywater catchment are also calculated. Applicable for both new and existing single-family and multifamily residential properties, it uses a scoring scale of zero to 100, with zero being the most desirable and 100 representing the baseline home.