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

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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

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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.

Evolve Technologies Joins WERS – Manufacturer Program

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February 16, 2016 – Improving showerhead efficiency and overall water conservation are two well-known strategies for addressing water supply issues. However, there’s a third strategy that Evolve Technologies is tackling head on: reducing behaviorally driven water waste without requiring behavior change. Their innovative ShowerStart Technology not only reduces water waste, but also enhances comfort and confidence while improving fixture quality and aesthetics.

According to a 2013 study by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), residents in the greater San Francisco Bay area generated between 1.7 and 4.9 gallons of behavioral waste per shower. (Behavioral waste is defined by the period of time a person continues to remain away from the shower after bathing temperature water has arrived.) To help curtail behavioral water waste, Evolve Technologies manufactures ShowerStart TSV and a complete line of luxury showerheads containing ShowerStart TSV that are extremely effective tools for effortlessly eliminating behavioral waste.

Due to the significant water savings enjoyed by the use of its products, Evolve Technologies is happy to support those seeking WERS certification through the WERS – Manufacturer Program. This new program offers discounts on products that conserve water, use water more efficiently and/or prevent water waste. Evolve is extending a 45% discount on their ShowerStart TSV products for those who use the code WERS45 in their online store.

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the Green Builder® Coalition to innovatively reduce water use through the WERS program.  Water is an increasingly precious resource that must be preserved as much as it is enjoyed. Together we are enabling our communities to do both,” commented Evolve co-founder, Troy Sherman.

“Evolve Technologies is a company that goes to great lengths to help consumers save water in a comfortable and convenient way,” said Green Builder® Coalition Executive Director Mike Collignon. “This partnership, and the WERS – Manufacturer Program as a whole, are going to provide a nice suite of benefits for those moving in a more water-efficient direction.” Discussions with other manufacturers are ongoing, with agreements and corresponding announcements anticipated in the near future. The Coalition continues to seek additional manufacturer partners. To join the program, please contact Mike Collignon.

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.

About Evolve Technologies
Evolve Technologies develops innovations that helps homeowners Enjoy More and Use Less and is dedicated to delivering meaningful water and energy savings without asking people to make behavior changes or sacrifices. Its core technology, ShowerStart, conveniently saves the water and energy used while waiting for the shower to become warm. With ShowerStart, a small thermostatic shut-off valve (TSV) is all that’s needed to save the resources homeowners don’t even realize they’re wasting. Better still, conservation occurs without changing shower feel, flow or even their morning routines.

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.

Santa Fe Community College to Host WERS Training in March

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January 14, 2016 – Santa Fe Community College’s EnergySmart Academy is known for its educational offerings in the energy sector. Now, they are embarking on a new frontier: water. Starting in March, they will be offering a 3-day training course on the Water Efficiency Rating Score, or WERS, program.

The initial course will take place March 8-10, 2016 on the SFCC campus. Later in March, the course will be available both online and in-person. “We feel that offering much of the material in an online format allows it to be more cost effective and accessible”, says Amanda Hatherly, Director of the EnergySmart Academy.

“Energy raters, green raters, plumbers, home inspectors and a host of other building industry professionals can expand their service offerings through this training,” said Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition. “SFCC and the WERS development group have been diligently working on the course content, and we’re so excited that it’s ready.”

In addition to the virtual course offered by SFCC, the Coalition will be working with SFCC and other educational partners to expand the number of in-person training opportunities across the United States. To request more information on this new training course, please contact Amanda Hatherly at 505-428-1805 or Amanda.hatherly@sfcc.edu.

Green Builder® Coalition Partners with ARCSA on WERS

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January 7, 2016 – The Green Builder® Coalition is honored to announce a 2-year partnership with the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association® (ARCSA) on the advancement of water efficiency and rainwater harvesting through the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS) program.

ARCSA’s mission is to promote sustainable rainwater harvesting practices to help solve potable, non-potable, stormwater and energy challenges throughout the world. ARCSA is very pleased to partner with The Coalition to provide educational and technical assistance on rainwater harvesting to further water efficiency.

“We at ARCSA are excited to move forward with the Green Builder® Coalition’s WERS program in our MOU to promote the mission of our groups and save our precious water resources,” says David Crawford, ARCSA president. “Through our MOU, we will be promoting more water efficiency through sustainable rainwater harvesting to use local, onsite water resources, instead of municipal potable, which is often times limited or reduced due to drought, declining supplies, or environmental restrictions.”

“The use of rainwater has both environmental and economic benefits. In addition, rainwater capture is an important element in achieving a lower WERS,” said Collignon. “We’re very happy to partner with ARCSA to help foster superior rainwater harvesting practices.”

The agreement addresses CEUs for ARCSA APs and WERS verifiers, and announces support for ARCSA-ASPE-ANSI Standards 63 and 78 as the Rainwater and Stormwater Standards used in both the WERS and its training curriculum.

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.

WERS Program Helps Homebuilder Save Thousands on Building Permit Fees

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December 17, 2015 – When homebuilder Bill Roth of Modern Design + Construction, Inc. recently submitted a building permit application, he had to declare how much water his latest project would use. This is part of an alternative “Plan B” permitting process for homebuilders in Santa Fe, NM.  Under this plan, homeowners can commit to using less water annually than the average home, in trade for a lower permit fee based on their reduced water consumption.  Accurately demonstrating the projected water use of a new home in your permit application has been a challenge… until now. This time, Roth had something new that enabled his application to get accepted in the blink of an eye, while saving his client approximately $2,000.

The Water Efficiency Rating Score, or 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.

Using the WERS program, Roth had his house plans analyzed by David Dunlap of Tierra Concepts. The preliminary report included everything Roth needed for his permit application.  According to Dunlap, “Having an analytical model like WERS, to clearly show the predicted water consumption for a new home, makes compliance with the city Plan B water program simple for everyone. This building permit application, using the WERS report, marks a huge step forward in water conservation efforts.”

All exterior water usage will be supplied through the use of reclaimed water. According to Roth, those systems will cost around $6,000. By leveraging the WERS program to prove he would not need potable water for the exterior, he was able to secure a significantly lower tap fee. “It was the equivalent of a 30% rebate. In Santa Fe, real savings can be had immediately,” said Roth.

“This project represents the first use of the WERS program in the market. Certification won’t occur until the project is completed, but this represents a significant moment for residential water efficiency”, said Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition. “The financial savings achieved by this project are eye-catching and just another reason for homeowners to make water efficient choices.”