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.

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.”