On May 11, Austin
Energy announced updates to their esteemed
green building program. Included in those revisions was the inclusion of
WERS as a points-earning option within the water chapter of the single-family
Section 5 requires
WaterSense for Homes certification and is worth 3 points. Through Austin
Energy, WERS is one of the approved methods for showing compliance to the EPA’s
program. Of course, by its very nature, WERS would also demonstrate compliance with
the other sections of Austin Energy’s Green Building program’s water chapter.
“It’s truly an honor to have WERS approved by the
longest-running green building program in the United States, but all the credit
goes to Austin Energy, under the leadership of Heidi Kasper,” said Executive Director
Mike Collignon. “Similar to the state of Vermont, they learned about WERS and
added it to their green building program completely of their own volition. I
think that further demonstrates the growing market awareness and adoption of the WERS Program.”
The new standards will go into effect for projects submitted
on or after Monday, June 22, 2020.
While the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)® is currently only cited in the single-family guidebook, the hope is that it will be added to the multifamily guidebook in the next round of revisions. “In looking at the multifamily guidebook, it seems to me that WERS fits seamlessly into there,” stated Collignon.
WERS is now allowed in two municipal building codes (Santa Fe, NM and Santa Barbara, CA), cited in a New Mexico state-level tax credit, is the basis for the WRI in the 2020 National Green Building Standard and is on track to be incorporated as a compliance path in Built Green Canada, the Vermont energy code and WaterSense for Homes 2.0.
Early bird registration is open for the 3rd Annual Next Generation Water Summit (NGWS) to be held on June 12th – 14th, 2019 in Santa Fe, NM.
A few of the exciting topics that are scheduled include:
“Utilization of Marginal Water” by Dr. Bernstein of the Israeli Institute of Soil Water and Environmental Sciences
“Emerging Viruses and Bacteria due to Rising Temperatures” by Dr. Nichols, formerly of the CDC
“How Building Codes Save Water” by Hope Medina
“Irrigation Water Budgets – A Comparative Review” by Dr. St Hilaire
“Water Reuse Trends” by Kyle Pickett, Co-founder & COO of Urban Fabrick, Inc.
As in prior years, the Summit will be preceded by several technical training courses that offer advanced water certifications for attendees. Workshops that will be held before and during the Summit include:
Commercial Water Audit Verifier Training
Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)® Verifier and Consultant Training
Greywater System Design
The Summit is a unique water and water reuse event that will feature builders presenting on Net Zero Water Houses and Near Net Zero Water houses. These Southwestern builders will host a design workshop for builders, contractors, home owners or architects that need assistance in designing net zero water dwellings.
Prospective attendees will not want to delay registering for this rare opportunity, as seats are limited. Early bird registration is available now through January 15 at the special rate of $200.
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, KUELwater, and the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association.
About the Next Generation Water Summit
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.
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:
“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.”
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.