On August 14th, 2018, Santa Barbara (CA) City Council adopted an ordinance modifying water metering regulations and incentivizing ultra-high water use efficiency projects. To help assess the efficiency of multifamily projects, the City is looking to enlist the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)® as a path to administer compliance.
Under the new ordinance, developers would have more flexible water metering options by verifying their project meets ultra-high water use efficiency standards through an independent rating institution. The Public Works Director is finalizing an administrative policy for implementation of the ordinance, including standards for ultra-high water use efficiency and approval of independent rating institutions. Madeline Wood, Water Conservation Supervisor for the City of Santa Barbara, said, “We worked with local industry stakeholders to formulate a path to code compliance that both met the City’s need for conservation and the practical needs of the design/build community. After much consideration, we think this will be a good fit for all parties.”
The Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)® is an independent rating system that evaluates water usage and conservation. Since it is a performance-based program, it would allow the City to simultaneously enforce existing conservation requirements while incentivizing new efficiency measures. At the same time, there is a certain level of flexibility for the design/build community within the program in order to help meet client needs.
“The City of Santa Barbara’s innovative spirit should be commended,” stated Mike Collignon, Chair of the WERS Development Group. “They are the first municipality to incorporate performance-based water conservation into their multifamily regulations.” Collignon also lauded the collaborative efforts of Santa Fe, NM. At the request of Santa Barbara staff, Santa Fe shared their codification experience with WERS. The City of Santa Fe has used WERS as a code requirement for single-family properties since March 2017.
The ordinance does not take effect until September 13, 2018.
Beginning 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.