EPA Proposes Water Efficiency Standard

July 9, 2008

EPA is developing a voluntary water efficiency standard for new single-family homes and townhomes, and is taking public comment on the proposal until July 21, 2008.

If the standard, which is part of EPA's overall WaterSense program, is finalized, homebuilders could put something roughly equivalent to the existing "Energy Star" label on a new house, declaring that the house meets a set of guidelines designed to reduce water use by about 20% compared to a typical new house.

This efficiency standard might be in place some time in 2009, or possibly in 2010.

* EPA draft specification; June 23, 2008, press release.

The proposed guidelines generally meet with the approval of the National Association of Home Builders, though the industry organization would like to see EPA fold in guidelines for reducing stormwater runoff, as part of an overall package for addressing residential water issues. NAHB also has some concerns about the process for certifying the third-party inspectors who would validate water efficiency claims. Overall, though, while meeting the voluntary guidelines would likely increase costs, NAHB is concluding that being able to apply a water efficiency label to a house would be a marketing plus.

* NAHB: General questions, Larissa Mark, 800-368-5242 x8157; technical questions, Kevin Morrow, 202-266-8375.

For scores of sources with local governments, businesses, consultants, and a few environmental groups who can offer their own perspectives on the EPA proposal, see:

* Alliance For Water Efficiency.

* U.S. Green Building Council: Green Home Guide and LEED for Homes.

* American Water Works Association.

* California Urban Water Conservation Council.

If you follow this issue regularly, you may want to mark an upcoming conference on your schedule:

* 1st Annual WaterEC, the International Water Efficiency Conference, March 30-April 2, 2009, Newport Beach, CA (agenda scheduled to be available by November 2008).

Mike Morris