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.”

GreenHome Institute Endorses WERS Program, Incorporates Into GreenStar!

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November 30, 2015 – Water is essential to life, so it’s no surprise that water scarcity garners headlines, especially in the western third of the United States. Yet supply isn’t the only reason to use water in a more efficient manner. Communities that are looking to grow are also interested in lessening the burden on their infrastructure; even more so if it’s starting to show signs of wear.

What can builders and their communities do to assess their water efficient choices? Enter the Water Efficiency Rating Score, or WERS (www.wers.us). It 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.

The GreenHome Institute (GHI) has decided to take a leadership position within the building industry by endorsing the WERS program. This decision comes after months of discussion, scrutiny and testing. “In the Midwest where we do most of our work, we are surrounded by the Great Lakes and water efficiency is a tough sell. That’s what makes our work even more important. Water conservation is needed to help protect our lakes,” said Brett Little, Executive Director of GHI.

GHI is also starting the process of implementing the WERS program as the water criteria for GreenStar, their residential green building program available nationwide.  Projects that achieve certain WERS levels will obtain a majority of their water points for various certification levels. “Home energy scores and models are now becoming the norm. Why not water next? It just makes sense. You can’t manage what you don’t measure and you easily weed out most waste through informed design,” stated Little.

“The GreenHome Institute has been interested in the WERS program for nearly a year. They have been just as eager as we have to get this first-of-its-kind water efficiency program into the market”, said Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition. “Having GreenStar incorporate WERS as its water criteria allows GreenStar builders to remain innovators, and further expand their sustainable construction practices.”

GHI offers bi-weekly webinars that focus on many unique topics to help professionals make more informed decisions in sustainable construction & renovation. On December 2nd, they will host a free, 1-hour, CEU-approved (GBCI, AIA(HSW), AIBD, GCP, etc.) course that will introduce professionals, policy makers and raters to the importance of water conservation and how to navigate the pilot WERS tool to use it on their next project. Check out the Greenhomeinstitute.org – Events page and sign up now as space is limited!

About GreenHome Institute
The GreenHome Institute is a non-profit with a mission to empower people to make healthier and more sustainable choices in the renovation and construction of the places we live. GHI is celebrating their 15th year in 2015 with over 15,000 trained professionals and over 6,000 certified green homes. For more, visit www.GreenHomeInstitute.org.

About Green Builder® Coalition
The Green Builder® Coalition is the program sponsor for the WERS program. On a broader scale, The Coalition is a not-for-profit association dedicated to amplifying the voice of green builders and professionals to drive advocacy, information and education for more sustainable home building practices. We are an action-oriented community of green builders and professionals dedicated to uniting and growing our joint expertise, values and voice to create stronger standards for sustainable, more environmentally responsible home building. For more information, visit www.greenbuildercoalition.org.

 

Upcoming Conference Sessions

If you’re planning on attending any of the following industry conferences, you’ll get a special opportunity to learn more about the WERS program.

ARCSA (Long Beach, CA) – Monday, November 9 at 10:00am
ABX (Boston) – Wednesday, November 18 at 1:30pm
AWRA National (Denver) – Thursday, November 19 at 10:00am
AWRA’s Sustainable Water Management Conf. 2016 (Providence, RI) – Tuesday, March 8 at 10:30am

(All times local)

WERS presented at StormCon 2015 in Austin,TX!

Wednesday, August 5, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon

TEXAS A&M TRACK
Room 404

 

T53 11:00 – 12:00 noon
Performance-Based Water Conservation With WERS

  • Mike Collignon, Green Builder Coalition
  • Laureen Blissard, Green Builder Coalition
  • Bill Roth, SFWCC

This presentation provides a general overview of the WERS program, a whole-house, performance-based approach to water efficiency. This program is applicable for both new and existing homes and can incorporate EPA’s WaterSense program and other water budgeting tools into the final results. Through the use of audience interaction and visual aids, attendees will gain an understanding of the elements of field data capture needed to derive a WERS and how a home would compare to other homes in the area. Finally, they will have a level of understanding sufficient enough to communicate the benefit of a WERS to their state and local communities, and/or elected officials in adopting water conservation measures.

 

Amanda Hatherly presents WERS at the 2015 ACI National Home Performance Conference & Trade Show

Conference: 2015 ACI National Home Performance Conference & Trade Show
Date: Tuesday, May 05, 2015 10:30 AM – 11:45 AM
Duration: 75 Minutes
Program Code: WX1
Speaker: Amanda Hatherly
Subject Area: Temp
Description:
Water scarcity is a growing concern across the country and making our houses more water efficient can save water, energy and money. Come and learn about a new tool — the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS) — that can be used to quantify water use in houses and to compare houses. Find out how some municipalities are looking at the tool as a way to cut water use and leverage both water and energy savings. How might your program incorporate the WERS tool into an audit and demonstrate savings for city and state water programs.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain what the WERS tool is and what it can do
  • Describe why municipalities are so interested in a tool that quantifies water savings
  • Describe ways your program might use the WERS tool

WERS Program Wins Sustainable Santa Fe Commission Award in Water Adaptation Category!

The City of Santa Fe’s Sustainable Santa Fe Commission recently announced that the Water Efficiency Rating Score’s Development Team won a Sustainable Santa Fe Award. The Commission bestowed the honor in the “Water Adaptation” category for “developing an accurate and flexible tool to drive water conservation in measurable ways”.

“We are truly humbled that the City of Santa Fe has recognized the WERS development team,” said Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition. “It’s a testament to the work they have conducted over the past 14 months to bring a practical water efficiency program to areas looking for assistance.”

 WERS

The WERS program uses a scoring scale of zero to 100, with zero being the most desirable. It analyzes indoor water usage, as well as rainwater and graywater usage. The City of Santa Fe has passed a resolution calling for its addition to their green building code. The New Mexico legislature would like to add it to the sustainable building tax credit requirements. Numerous communities and green building programs are looking to utilize this innovative program. For more information, please visit www.wers.us.

The Sustainable Santa Fe Awards Gala, sponsored by the City of Santa Fe Sustainable Santa Fe Commission, the Green Chamber of Commerce, Earth Care, the Green Fire Times, and hosted by Green Drinks, La Fonda Hotel and Horizons Sustainable Financial Services, will take place on Wednesday, April 8th from 5:30pm to 7:00pm at La Fonda Hotel’s New Mexico Room, 100 E. San Francisco Street. All members of the public are invited to join in the recognition and celebration of the local sustainability heroes. The award winners will be on hand to share their projects and answer questions.