Pearl’s Premium, the Ultimate Grass, Adds WERS to its Long List of Partners

pearls-premium-logoConventional turfgrass is a large consumer of water, wasting up to 50% of our clean drinking water according to the EPA. A modern toilet uses 6 gallons per day, but your average lawn uses 2,500 gallons per day. Plus, it adds significantly to your water bill, as those who have irrigation systems are acutely aware. Your lawn can also be a cause for a higher Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)®. That’s why the Green Builder® Coalition has partnered with Pearl’s Premium via the WERS – Manufacturer Program to provide a 20% discount on their award winning mixtures of sunny, shady, and sun/shade grass seed, when buying at www.PearlsPremium.com and putting in the discount code “WERS20”.

The time for planting grass seed is now for the southern half of the country, including California. For the rest of the country, plant in the early spring, early fall or whenever soil temperatures are between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. To check your local soil temperature, go to www.PearlsPremium.com, click on the green button in the upper left corner and put in your city and state. If you are re-seeding, do not tear up the lawn. Simply spread the seeds over existing grass to out-compete the existing grass and weeds to look dark green and beautiful (like the picture below) in all 50 states, Canada and all climates worldwide:

pearls-premium-lawn

Jackson Madnick, founder and seed developer at Pearl’s Premium, said, “People in California and hot climates call it ‘The Holy Grail of Grass’ or ‘Guilt Free Grass’, not using all that water, chemicals, time, protecting health, saving money and helping to lessen climate change.” Madnick also noted it is the only grass that can earn LEED Credits (up to 6).

“In some areas of the United States, a lawn is a luxury that few can afford due to both the cost of water and the intense consumer of time: mowing weekly. In some places, it’s just environmentally irresponsible,” exclaimed Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition. “My hope is that people consider this product as a way to have the best of both worlds; a beautiful lawn for themselves and their family, but with a very small ecological footprint.” Collignon went on to say he planted some of Pearl’s Premium in his own backyard, and within 7 days, it sprouted and now looks great.

Pearl’s Premium becomes the fourth manufacturer to join the WERS – Manufacturer Program, following Evolve Technologies, Ecovie, and Flow-Know.

pearls premium - roots

About Pearl’s Premium
Pearl’s Premium Ultra-Low Maintenance Lawn Seed is a patented, extreme drought-tolerant grass that delivers breakthrough performance. Because it grows very slowly, it only needs to be mowed once a month, rather than weekly. It grows very deep 4-foot roots rather than 3 or 6-inch roots, so a homeowner will be able to cut turf watering by 75%. From the deep roots, it never needs lawn chemicals to out-compete most weeds and stay green year-round, so it is safer for children, animals and the elderly. Rather than chemicals for nutrients, Pearl’s Premium Grass needs small amounts of safer organic fertilizer or compost applied only once or twice a year. From the 4-foot deep roots in the ground and more surface area above the soil, this grass sequesters 8 X the carbon, pulling it out of the air to lock into the soil, to actually help lessen climate change and extreme weather. Its roots do not spread sideways, so there is no weeding of the grass out of flower or vegetable beds. It is dark green, barefoot soft, Non-GMO and fairly weed free. Pearl’s Premium has had over 300 rave reviews by experts & is sold at select Whole Foods. Pearl’s Premium gives back, donating seed to Habitat for Humanity & other causes related to children, animals & environmental education. For more info and to purchase, visit www.PearlsPremium.com or call (508) 653-0800.

Santa Barbara Eyes WERS for Administering Code Compliance

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.

City of Santa Barbara sealUnder 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.

Flow-Know® Becomes Third Company to Join WERS – Manufacturer Program

Gray Line Systems, maker of the Flow-Know® brand of irrigation controllers and flow sensors, is the latest manufacturer to join the WERS – Manufacturer Program.

Flow-Know® will offer a 20% discount on all the products in their online store. “Compared to indoor water use, irrigation is the larger consumer of water,” said Green Builder® Coalition Executive Director Mike Collignon. “Now that property owners can see exactly how much water is being used, they can make efficiency adjustments much sooner.”

The Flow-Know® sprinkler controller is programmed with an iPhone over the Internet. The controller is compatible with all sprinkler systems that utilize 24VAC valves. With support for 2 flow sensors, the Flow-Know® allows a property or building owner to use their iPhone to track both household/business water usage, as well as the landscape water usage, before a surprisingly high water bill arrives.

Joe Bangs, the developer of the Flow-Know technology, is frequently heard saying, “Our water utilities do a great job delivering water to our homes and businesses, but as consumers, we need on-demand, real-time consumption data to effectively manage (and improve) our water use habits. Our phones are an integral part of our lives, so it just makes sense to access our data with just a few taps in the Flow-Know app.”

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.

About Flow-Know®
Gray Line Systems is a technology development and manufacturing company based in San Antonio, Texas. The goal of the Flow-Know® product family is to produce water usage data that helps consumers conserve water and save money. To learn more, please contact Joe Bangs.

Water Rating Index Added to 2018 National Green Building Standard Draft

The Consensus Committee developing the next version of the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) approved the Water Rating Index (WRI), as recommended by the Water Task Group. The WRI will go out for public comment as part of the draft NGBS. If approved, the National Green Building Standard will include the WRI methodology as an appendix and will use the WRI as one option for meeting the water efficiency requirements of the NGBS.

“The zero to 100 rating system, patterned after the Energy Rating Index (ERI) already in code, is a simple metric that consumers and water planners can understand and something builders will use to differentiate themselves from competition. It will drive greater efficiency in water conservation just as the ERI has for energy conservation”, said Kim Shanahan, Executive Officer of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association.

“In many areas, water is becoming the new energy,” said Craig Conner, founder of Building Quality. “The WRI is a single number representing the water efficiency of a home, including both the inside and outside water use. I expect the WRI to be used where water availability is limiting construction. The WRI can also be used to compare the costs of achieving water efficiency in homes with the cost of expanding the water supply infrastructure. In many cases, new-home water efficiency will be much less expensive than expanding the water supply and treatment infrastructure.”

The WRI proposal passed overwhelmingly, receiving a 90% majority approval from the Committee. It calls for the creation of an alternative compliance path, whereby builders receive credit for four levels of achievement in the water efficiency chapter depending on the outcome of their water rating. On a scale of 0-100, where lower is better, the following table was approved:

WRI NGBS Level
70 Bronze
60 Silver
50 Gold
40 Emerald

“This is great news for both water-efficient builders and water-conscious communities,” said Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition and Chair of the WERS Development Group. “Builders who utilize the NGBS would be able to get the credit they deserve for their water-efficient practices, and municipalities that need to ensure their water future would have an ANSI standard to employ.”

Two Charrettes Highlight Next Generation Water Summit

A limited number of attendees will be able to register for one of two charrettes at the upcoming Next Generation Water Summit. The charrettes are a new feature at this year’s Summit, with only 80 total slots available. The professionally moderated, half-day charrettes will take place on Tuesday, May 1. White papers will be produced and distributed to all Summit attendees, not just those who participate in the charrettes.

Next Generation Water Summit logo

The first charrette will try to solve a hypothetical challenge: How to implement a mandated 50% reduction in urban water usage without crippling the building industry. Aimed at the building community, this discussion will utilize a diverse set of perspectives in order to entertain a complete examination of this challenge. A few of the attendees scheduled to participate include: Darrel McMaster, Founder, Sustainable Homes, Inc. (Texas); Mike Collignon, Executive Director, Green Builder® Coalition; Darrell Lehman, President & CEO, Triconic, LLC; and Kim Shanahan, Executive Director, Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association.

“The purpose of this charrette is to contemplate the integration of significant water conservation into the design/build process,” said Collignon. “I’m looking forward to the suggestions on managing customer expectations in different geographies.”

The second charrette will compile best water reuse practices and mistakes in the southwest. As many in the water industry know, alternate water sources (i.e. rainwater, greywater, blackwater and stormwater) are often managed by different entities, and practices can vary from state to state. This charrette will bring together state experts from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Utah to share ideas and find common paths to success. A few of the attendees scheduled to participate include: Dr. Robert Mace, Chief Water Policy Officer, Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University; Doug Pushard, Founder, HarvestH2o; Peter Mayer, Principal and Founder, WaterDM; and Carol M. Ward-Morris, Assistant Director, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association.

Mayer asked, “Can urban water use be optimized in the American southwest? With a panel of experts representing the entire region, this charrette will consider the range of feasible water efficiency, reuse, and cooperative opportunities.”

Prospective attendees will not want to delay registering for this unique opportunity, as seats are limited. Early bird registration expires on March 7, so people are encouraged to sign up now. For more information on the rest of the Summit, please visit www.NextGenerationWaterSummit.com.

Hosts of the Next Generation Water Summit will be the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce, Green Builder® Coalition, City of Santa Fe, the Alliance for Water Efficiency and the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association. Santa Fe Community College is the official education sponsor, and Green Builder® Media is the national media partner.

The Next Generation Water Summit brings together the building and development community, water reuse professionals and water policymakers in a collaborative setting to share best practices and learn about innovative water conservation and water reuse techniques that can be used to comply with water conservation restrictions spreading across the southwest.

Next Generation Water Summit 2018 Announces Nobel Prize-Winning Keynote Speaker

The Next Generation Water Summit (NGWS) 2018 will host the 2nd annual regional forum, featuring globally recognized climate researcher and Nobel Prize winner, Jonathan Overpeck.

The NGWS 2018 takes place on April 29th – May 1st at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Next Generation Water Summit brings together developers, builders, architects, and water professionals to share best practices and learn on the best water conservation and water reuse practices from around the southwest.

Jonathan T. OverpeckOverpeck’s visionary work has been at the forefront of the heated climate change public debates and identifying the risks to managing water resources, providing valuable insights into past climate variability and change in the Southwest. He will present on the Climate Change forecasted impact to the Colorado River flows.

The Colorado River Basin covers nearly 246,000 square miles, including parts of the seven “basin States” of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming and flows into Mexico. The river is the life blood of the Southwest and supplies water to more than 30 million people and irrigates nearly 4 million acres.

“The Next Generation Water Summit is the only event that brings together water, building and land use professionals from the Southwest to collaborate on water reuse and sustainability strategies that are vital to protecting the west’s most vulnerable resource – water,” said Mike Collignon, executive director of the Green Builder Coalition.

“Peck”, as he prefers to be called, is currently the inaugural dean of the University of Michigan (U-M) School for Environment and Sustainability. He previously served as the director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona. He has published more than 200 works in climate change and the environmental sciences and was one of the lead authors on the report on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.

Next Generation Water Summit logoAttendees can register and learn more about other announced speakers at www.NextGenerationWaterSummit.com. Registration includes admittance to the keynote speakers, any educational session and breakfast and lunch on April 30 and May 1. Leisure activities include a white-water rafting trip on the Rio Grande (additional fee) and a treasure hunt along the Margarita Trail.

NGWS sponsors and partners include the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce, Green Builder® Coalition, City of Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association, and The Alliance for Water Efficiency. Santa Fe Community College is the official education sponsor.

WERS Consultant Designation Created

A new designation has been created that better serves those who want a deeper understanding of water ratings, but don’t necessarily want to become an in-the-field verifier or rater. A WERS Consultant would attend a course that has much of the same information as the WERS Verifier course, but would not include the field training or exam. The curriculum reduction means that the entire WERS Consultant course would only take 2 days to complete.

“We think this is an ideal opportunity for builders, architects and designers to learn more about a performance-based water efficiency program that can be very beneficial to their business,” said Mike Collignon, Chair of the WERS Development Group. “In addition to information about the WERS Tool, students will also be exposed to a wealth of technical material and information on relevant industry standards.”

The WERS Consultant designation would require CEUs in order to retain the moniker, but those requirements will be nominal and many will be low-to-no cost. “We’re responding to a market need with this new designation,” Collignon continued. “We’re not trying to overburden people with CEU requirements. Instead, the CEUs simply ensure that the Consultants stay current with us as we continue to learn about the many nuances across this great country. It also keeps an open dialogue with the WERS community, which is something we really value.”

The first opportunity to take this course will be in late October at the Santa Fe Community College in Santa Fe, NM. The nature of the WERS Consultant course also makes it easier to offer online, and those details are currently being addressed by the WERS Development Group.

Green Builder® Coalition Selects Triconic to Expand WERS Program

The Florida Home Builders Association (FHBA) recently announced their sponsorship of a new Certified Ratings Program; offering single-family homebuilders access to independent energy and water ratings based on Florida’s Energy Code and Water Star℠ owned by the St. Johns River Water Management District. For the Program, Triconic created a partnership between Water Star℠, the FHBA, UL and Intertek. The partnership gives home builders a program to get energy and water ratings from the same professionals.

The Green Builder® Coalition has also selected Triconic to administer the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)® and therefore is taking steps to further its support of Water Star℠ objectives and offer certified WERS ratings. WERS provides a performance-based water efficiency rating and complements the prescriptive-based Water Star℠ Program.

“Builders love the flexibility, and with WERS, they’ll have the choice of a prescriptive water rating through Florida Water Star℠, or a performance-based water rating with WERS,” said Green Builder® Coalition and WERS Development Group Chair Mike Collignon.

“The Certified Ratings Program is the first to establish itself among state home builder associations, but with the support and scale of UL and Intertek, it is anticipated that other states will push expansion of similar programs beyond Florida starting late in 2017 and into 2018”, says Darrell Lehman, President of Triconic. Lehman continues, “There is such tremendous support for comprehensive energy and water rating options. So Triconic will continue fostering partnerships to bring builders more options like bringing WERS to Florida.”

Kim Shanahan, Coalition Board Chair, agreed. “The partnership Triconic assembled sets an exciting precedent that can and should be replicated with HBAs across the nation that seek to provide performance-based choices for rating energy and water usage in homes built by their members. The Green Builder® Coalition is eager to assist Triconic as it expands its outreach to other state HBAs.”

“This is a partnership we’ve been working on for quite some time,” said Collignon. “We always knew we would need assistance meeting demand from across the country. With the partners involved, we can take a program that originated in Santa Fe, NM and elevate it to the national (and potentially international) stage. The Coalition’s Board of Directors and the WERS Development Group are excited for the expansion of WERS.”

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About the St. Johns River Water Management District & Florida Water Star SM
St. Johns River Water Management District staff are committed to ensuring the sustainable use and protection of water resources for the benefit of the people of the district and the state of Florida. The St. Johns River Water Management District is one of five districts in Florida managing groundwater and surface water supplies in the state. The district encompasses all or part of 18 northeast and east-central Florida counties. District headquarters are in Palatka, and staff also are available to serve the public at service centers in Maitland, Jacksonville and Palm Bay. Connect with us on Twitter at @SJRWMD, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. For more information about the district, please visit www.sjrwmd.com.

About Triconic
Triconic designs, builds and operates certification programs for certification program sponsors. Triconic’s team has decades of experience in the Testing Inspection Certification (TIC) industry and can adapt a program to any certification area. Triconic provides a user-friendly certification experience, complete with software based certification tools, so clients can obtain their certifications quickly and easily. To learn more, please visit www.triconic.com.

About Intertek
Intertek is a leading Total Quality Assurance provider to industries worldwide. Through our network of more than 1,000 laboratories and offices and over 42,000 people in more than 100 countries, the Group is re-defining the industry with our Total Quality Assurance proposition. We go beyond physical quality control to provide total peace of mind through our innovative and bespoke Assurance, Testing, Inspection and Certification solutions for our customers’ operations and supply chains. Intertek Total Quality Assurance expertise, delivered consistently, with precision, pace and passion, enabling our customers to power ahead safely. www.intertek.com

About UL
UL fosters safe living and working conditions for people everywhere through the application of science to solve safety, security and sustainability challenges. The UL Mark engenders trust enabling the safe adoption of innovative new products and technologies. Everyone at UL shares a passion to make the world a safer place. We test, inspect, audit, certify, validate, verify, advise and train and we support these efforts with software solutions for safety and sustainability. To learn more, please visit ul.com.

About Green Builder® Coalition
The Green Builder® Coalition is the program sponsor for the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)®. 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.

LEED Platinum & GreenStar Gold Home Gets an Assist From WERS

There are net-zero energy homes, and then there are homes that go even further. The following project made sure it went a step beyond.

LEED Platinum & GreenStar Gold Home in MN (Photo courtesy of Corey Gaffer)
LEED Platinum & GreenStar Gold Home in MN (Photo courtesy of Corey Gaffer)

The homeowners wanted to build a home in the Minneapolis area that produced as much energy as both the house and their cars used over the span of a year. They hired Marc Sloot of SALA Architects and Kerry Hage of Hage Homes to lead the design and construction Design team. For best value and to ensure production from the solar panels could at least match consumption, they sought ways to reduce consumption as much as possible first. Thick insulation, passive solar tempering with triple pane windows, geothermal heat pumps, a high efficiency fresh air exchanger and ENERGY STAR-rated lights and appliances were all employed in the process.

This house was about more than just energy, though. The homeowners also gave preference to companies/manufacturers that used recycled content in their products, used renewable energy for their manufacturing and/or transportation and produced products without using toxic or harmful components such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

LEED Platinum & GreenStar Gold Home in MN (Photo courtesy of Corey Gaffer)
LEED Platinum & GreenStar Gold Home in MN (Photo courtesy of Corey Gaffer)

They also took a sustainable approach to their water usage. Interestingly, their motivation was not due to supply concerns. Instead, they wanted to reduce their total energy footprint, which included the energy devoted to water. Indoors, this meant utilizing low-flow fixtures in the showers and bathroom sinks. On the exterior, drought-tolerant turfgrass, in addition to xeriscape techniques, will greatly minimize the outdoor water demands. This property also contains 4 rain gardens that will be fed by either onsite rainfall or stormwater runoff from the street channeled onto the property via curb cuts. Finally, the project has four, fifty-gallon rain barrels. 200 gallons might not seem like a lot of capacity, but the landscaping is designed to require no more than average rainfall, and Minneapolis receives approximately 2.5 feet of rain per year.

LEED Platinum & GreenStar Gold Home in MN (Photo courtesy of Corey Gaffer)
LEED Platinum & GreenStar Gold Home in MN (Photo courtesy of Corey Gaffer)

“One of the reasons this project has scored Platinum in LEED v4 is the dedication to water reduction. While LEED for Homes pulls from the EPA WaterSense tool for outdoors and uses the LEED water performance spreadsheet for indoors, there is no uniform, agreed-upon tool to track or predict stormwater, rain water, black water or greywater use,” commented Brett Little, Executive Director for the Green Home Institute. “We were excited to use the WERS tool as a way to measure more accurately the rain barrel catchment for this project, which could be used to populate the rain/grey water section in the LEED Water Performance Pathway. Moreover, the WERS could theoretically be used to meet all of the water performance items asked for in LEED through 1 tool, rather than relying on 2 or 3 different tools which always allows for more error. We recommend contacting the USGBC to voice your opinion if you want to see WERS adopted as a substitute.”

“The great thing about building a comprehensive tool like WERS is that people can use it for a variety of purposes,” said Mike Collignon, Chair of the WERS Development Group. “We believe this precedent shows WERS can lend assistance to LEED projects and, hopefully, will open the door to its expanded usage within the LEED process.”

You can see this fascinating project by registering for the Green Home Institute’s Facebook Live tour, which is going on now. The coverage for this project is scheduled to air on Monday, July 24, 2017 at 12:00pm CT.

WERS Program in the News

The Next Generation Water Summit garnered a lot of media coverage in New Mexico. Here is a rundown of the radio interviews, as well as a recap of the event from the Green Fire Times:

KVSF The Voice 101.5 FM – May 25, 2017 – Richard Eeds interviews Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition and Co-Chair of the Next Generation Water Summit: https://santafe.com/thevoice/podcasts/mike-collignon-green-builder-coalition-next-generation-water-summit

KSFR News 101.1 FM – June 2, 2017 – Katherine Mast interviews Collignon: http://traffic.libsyn.com/ksfrnews/km-watersummit.mp3

KSFR News 101.1 FM – June 14, 2017 – Katherine Mast interviews Collignon: http://traffic.libsyn.com/ksfrnews/km-postwatersummit.mp3

“Report on the First Annual Next Generation Water Summit” by Nancy Grace of the Green Fire Times. July 6, 2017. http://greenfiretimes.com/2017/07/report-on-the-first-annual-next-generation-water-summit/