General New Homes Questions
WaterSense Labeled New Homes Questions
Why label new homes?
Residential water use accounts for more than half of the publicly supplied water in the United States. With more than one million new homes now built each year in this country, EPA recognized a tremendous opportunity to promote water efficiency in the new housing sector while creating livable communities that help families save resources for the future.
How did EPA develop the WaterSense New Home Specification?
WaterSense spent more than three years working with hundreds of builders, utilities, trade associations, manufacturers, landscape and irrigation professionals, and certification providers to develop efficiency and performance criteria for water-efficient new homes. EPA drafted two versions of the specification for public comment, developed a certification system, and conducted dozens of meetings with key stakeholders before it finalized the specification. The specification has since been revised to reflect growth in the WaterSense program and changes in the building industry.
What is included in the specification?
In order to earn the label, homes must feature WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures, efficient hot water delivery systems, and yards designed with water savings in mind. If they are included with the home, clothes washers and dishwashers must be ENERGY STAR® qualified models, and irrigation systems, if incorporated, must include WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers and must be designed or installed and audited by irrigation professionals certified by a WaterSense labeled program.
How much will a WaterSense labeled new home save?
Compared to a traditional home, WaterSense labeled new homes could save a family of four as much as 50,000 gallons of water per year—enough to wash 2,000 loads of laundry. But the savings don't stop there; these homes also realize energy efficiency from heating less water. Combined, these water and energy savings help homeowners reduce their utility bills by up to $600 per year.
Does a WaterSense labeled new home cost more to build/own?
As is the case with other green building certification programs, EPA estimates that some additional costs might be incurred to ensure homes meet the specification. With the utility savings homeowners realize from using less energy and water, the true cost of ownership could be lower in WaterSense labeled homes than traditional homes.
What about the quality of WaterSense labeled new homes?
Just as products are required to be tested and certified by an independent third party before they can earn the WaterSense label, WaterSense labeled new homes must be independently inspected and certified to ensure that they meet EPA's criteria for water efficiency and performance. WaterSense labeled homes mean getting and doing more with less water, so you can expect all the comforts of a new home and save water.
Why did EPA include a landscaping requirement?
On average, American homes use 30 percent of their water outdoors, but that number can be as high as 50 to 70 percent in drier regions of the country. The front yards (and back, if installed by builders) of WaterSense labeled new homes will use less water while providing curb appeal and low maintenance. EPA requires that builders use its Water Budget Tool to determine a mix of regionally appropriate plantings based on the climate and watering requirements of the region.
Who can participate in the program?
Home builders and their trade associations can join as WaterSense partners and commit to building homes to the specification. Home efficiency raters can serve as inspectors, green building organizations can serve as program administrators, and certification organizations are approved to become EPA licensed certification providers.
How will homeowners know their homes have earned the WaterSense label?
Builder partners provide homeowners of WaterSense labeled new homes with a certificate and optional sticker signed and dated by the inspector and the licensed certification provider indicating that the home meets EPA’s criteria for water efficiency and performance. Homeowners will also receive a manual from the builder that identifies all of the water–efficient features of the home, based on a template EPA provides to its builder partners.
How can I find a WaterSense builder partner?
Builders and licensed certification providers who partner with WaterSense are listed on the Meet Our Partners page.
Does EPA limit the size and type of homes that can earn the label? Can units in multi–family buildings earn the label?
On January 1, 2013, EPA revised the WaterSense new home specification to include residential units in multi–family buildings that are three stories or less in size, including mixed–use buildings, that have independent heating, cooling, and hot water systems separate from other units. Unfortunately, this means that units in multi–family buildings taller than three stories with central heating, cooling, or hot water systems are not eligible for the WaterSense label. These buildings have significant uses of water that are not captured by the WaterSense criteria.
What about existing homes?
While not eligible for the label, WaterSense encourages all parties interested in becoming more energy–and water–efficient to look for WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures and other efficient appliances when building new homes or renovating renovating existing ones.