OCEANSIDE, CALIF. — RESNET, the Residential Energy Services Network, in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council 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 2015.
RESNET is well known for its Home Energy Rating System, the HERS Index.
An ANSI consensus standard development process will be used in developing the standards for the new residential water efficiency rating system. The RESNET Standard Development Committee 300 (SDC 300) will oversee development of the standard.
“In many parts of the nation, water is fast becoming an ever increasingly expensive commodity,” said 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 HERS Index 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 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, and 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.”
Osann explained that, for the energy rating, a house is compared against a sample house that is merely code compliant and the HERS score measures the house that's being graded against a base code house. Osann said he imagines that the water efficiency index will be arrived at in much the same manner.
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.
“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.”
Homebuilders who present the two scores side-by-side 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.”
KB Home has been named an Energy Star Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award winner for four straight years and a WaterSense Partner of the Year for four consecutive years.
The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) is the independent, national nonprofit organization that homeowners trust to improve home energy efficiency and realize substantial savings on their utility bills. RESNET’s industry-leading standards are recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others.