Water is essential to life, so it’s no surprise that water scarcity garners headlines, especially in the western third of the United States. Yet supply isn’t the only reason to use water in a more efficient manner. Communities that are looking to grow are also interested in lessening the burden on their infrastructure; even more so if it’s starting to show signs of wear.
What can builders and their communities do to assess their water efficient choices? Enter the Water Efficiency Rating Score, or WERS (www.wers.us). It 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.
The GreenHome Institute (GHI) has decided to take a leadership position within the building industry by endorsing the WERS program. This decision comes after months of discussion, scrutiny and testing. "In the Midwest where we do most of our work, we are surrounded by the Great Lakes and water efficiency is a tough sell. That's what makes our work even more important. Water conservation is needed to help protect our lakes," said Brett Little, Executive Director of GHI.
GHI is also starting the process of implementing the WERS program as the water criteria for GreenStar, their residential green building program available nationwide. Projects that achieve certain WERS levels will obtain a majority of their water points for various certification levels. “Home energy scores and models are now becoming the norm. Why not water next? It just makes sense. You can’t manage what you don’t measure and you easily weed out most waste through informed design,” stated Little.
“The GreenHome Institute has been interested in the WERS program for nearly a year. They have been just as eager as we have to get this first-of-its-kind water efficiency program into the market”, said Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition. “Having GreenStar incorporate WERS as its water criteria allows GreenStar builders to remain innovators, and further expand their sustainable construction practices.”
GHI offers bi-weekly webinars that focus on many unique topics to help professionals make more informed decisions in sustainable construction & renovation. On December 2nd, they will host a free, 1-hour, CEU-approved (GBCI, AIA(HSW), AIBD, GCP, etc.) course that will introduce professionals, policy makers and raters to the importance of water conservation and how to navigate the pilot WERS tool to use it on their next project. Check out the Greenhomeinstitute.org – Events page and sign up now as space is limited!
About GreenHome Institute
The GreenHome Institute is a non-profit with a mission to empower people to make healthier and more sustainable choices in the renovation and construction of the places we live. GHI is celebrating their 15th year in 2015 with over 15,000 trained professionals and over 6,000 certified green homes. For more, visit www.GreenHomeInstitute.org.
About Green Builder® Coalition
The Green Builder® Coalition is the program sponsor for the WERS program. On a broader scale, The Coalition is a not-for-profit association dedicated to amplifying the voice of green builders and professionals to drive advocacy, information and education for more sustainable home building practices. We are an action-oriented community of green builders and professionals dedicated to uniting and growing our joint expertise, values and voice to create stronger standards for sustainable, more environmentally responsible home building. For more information, visit www.greenbuildercoalition.org.
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