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.
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.