RESNET developing Water Efficiency Rating for homes
The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and a coalition of water efficiency experts, homebuilders, environmental organizations and home energy professionals is developing the nation’s first Water Efficiency Rating (WER) Index.
The WER Index will show consumers at a glance how efficiently a home uses water by assigning it a numerical score based on performance. RESNET proposes to have the WER Index ready for use across the United States by the end of this year. The WER index will offer a rating system for water efficiency similar to the HERS Index for energy efficiency for homes.
“In many parts of the nation, water is fast becoming an ever increasingly expensive commodity,” observed Steve Baden, Executive Director of RESNET. “At least one county in every state in this country experiences a drought each year. There is clearly a need for a system to rate a home’s efficiency in water use. The WER Index Score will allow homebuyers to know how efficiently water is being used in the homes they are considering to buy. It will also provide an opportunity for homebuilders to monetize the efficiency of their homes in the same fashion that the HERS® Index plays for energy efficiency.”
The WER Index will work in the same way as the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index – also developed by RESNET – which scores a home based on its energy performance. A lower HERS Index Score indicates a more energy efficient home, with 100 being set as the baseline for an energy efficient home (one that conforms to the latest International Energy Conservation Code [IECC] requirements). The baseline score for the WER Index will also be 100, but with a lower score indicating a more water efficient home.
RESNET’s effort is being led by a committee composed of experts in the field of water efficiency, home building and home energy performance. The co-chairmen of the committee are:
- Jacob Atalla, KB Home
- Ed Osann, Natural Resources Defense Council
- Jonah Schein, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency WaterSense® Program
“A residential water efficiency index creates many important benefits for homeowners and consumers,” said Ed Osann, a senior water policy analyst for the NRDC. “A numeric water score will help homebuyers understand the water efficiency of a house the same way car shoppers use fuel economy labels to inform their purchases. The score will help expand green building programs and encourage new rebates and tax incentives for water efficient products in new and existing homes. Consumers who ‘know the score’ will save water and money when they buy a house or renovate their existing home.”
RESNET’s WER Index Score will be for water what its cousin the HERS Index Score is for energy – a performance indicator for homes in the same way as the miles-per-gallon (MPG) sticker is for cars. The combination of a WER Index Score and a HERS Index Score will provide consumers with a comprehensive picture of how efficiently a home operates, thus enabling them to make better informed buying decisions.
“RESNET has been a valued partner in helping us to carry out the WaterSense Labeled Homes program”, said Veronica Blette, WaterSense Program Manager. “We look forward to working with them and the water community towards developing this new tool that will help builders and consumers understand the savings made possible from homes and products that are designed for water efficiency.”
The WER Index will be a valuable marketing tool for homebuilders as well, increasing numbers of which are already using HERS Index scores to effectively shop their homes to consumers hungry for energy efficient properties. By presenting the two scores side-by-side, builders will be able to explain to homebuyers in an easy-to-understand manner, why their homes are better value for money. According to KB Home’s Jacob Atalla, “Water is one of our most precious and scarce natural resources, and KB Home has a proud history of leading our industry in the important area of water conservation. Just as RESNET’s HERS index helped revolutionize the way homebuilders are able to illustrate and track the superior energy efficiency of new homes, we expect RESNET’s new WER index will further the industry’s ability to monitor progress in building water-efficient new homes and provide invaluable insight to consumers about the benefits they offer.”
An American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus standard development process will be used in developing the standards for the new residential water efficiency rating system.
Read more about water saving devices for homes.