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.”