New Homes Draft Specification Public Meeting Summary
WaterSense® New Homes Draft
Specification Public Meeting Summary
April 19, 2012 "
This meeting discussed the proposed modifications to the 2009 WaterSense Single-Family New
Home Specification and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) supporting
rationale for the revision. The objectives of this meeting were to:
1.	Explain the WaterSense specification development process
2.	Review the specific modifications proposed
3.	Gather input on the implementation of the specification modifications
Featured speaker:
•	Jonah Schein, EPA, Washington, D.C.
•	Roy Sieber, Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG), Chantilly, Virginia
Please see the accompanying PowerPoint presentation or contact the WaterSense Helpline at
watersense@epa.gov if you have any questions.
WaterSense is a voluntary partnership and labeling program launched by EPA in 2006. The
WaterSense label is a simple way for consumers to identify products and homes that use at
least 20 percent less water than standard models or typical new homes. EPA relies on industry
representatives and other interested parties with experience in the design, manufacture,
building, and installation of water-efficient products and homes to develop WaterSense
specifications that then determine a product or home's eligibility to earn the WaterSense label.
The specification development process includes the following:
•	Technical analysis and market research: Research is conducted to identify how water-
efficient products are differentiated from standard counterparts, as well as the existence
of widely accepted performance and efficiency standards/specifications for those
products. The research estimates the water and cost savings from national adoption of
the water-efficient product(s), environmental impacts, and the level of stakeholder
•	Notice of intent (NOI): The NOI identifies data gaps and research needs to stakeholders
and solicits input on outstanding technical issues. Upon publication, EPA works with key
stakeholders to define important performance attributes and evaluation methods. This
work may be done through consensus-based standards development groups or through
less formal stakeholder groups.
•	Draft specification: A draft specification is issued once technical questions and
information gaps are adequately addressed. To the extent possible, the draft
specification is based on existing standards and specifications. There is an opportunity

New Homes Draft Specification Public Meeting Summary
for formal public comment on specific product evaluation criteria and performance levels.
The draft specification is released with a supporting statement, which provides rationale
and justification for water-efficiency and performance criteria. The draft specification also
indicates the water savings potential and describes the cost-effectiveness of the
specification for consumers.
•	Final clarifications: EPA considers and resolves comments received on the draft
specification, during which it publishes public comments and responses, the public
meeting presentation, and a summary of the presentation.
•	Certification and labeling: EPA establishes a third-party infrastructure for certifying
products to meet specification criteria for water efficiency and performance.
NOI to Modify the WaterSense Specification for Single-Family New Homes
EPA has determined that modifications to the new homes specification released in December
2009 are warranted because the home building market is significantly different today than when
the specification development process originally began. For example, new product technologies
have entered the market since the specification's release. EPA has also obtained feedback from
builders and stakeholders in the first two years of labeling new homes that can be used to fine-
tune specification criteria. In addition, the modification provides an opportunity to expand the
program to new builders and stakeholders (e.g., multi-family buildings and builders).
The most significant proposed change to the new homes specification is to allow units in multi-
family buildings to earn the WaterSense label. This will require associated changes to various
specification technical criteria, inspection, and certification elements. The proposed modification
would also update product requirements and adjust landscape design criteria.
Proposed Scope of the Modifications
The current scope applies to: newly constructed, single-family homes and townhomes of three
stories or less, which excludes units in multi-family buildings. WaterSense has received
numerous requests for labeling of units in multi-family projects. Technical reviews of these
requests have uncovered minimal barriers to the inclusion of multi-family buildings in the scope
of the new home specification. For this reason, WaterSense believes that the scope of the new
home specification should be expanded to include multi-family buildings.
Furthermore, expanding the new home specification would align it with the ENERGY STAR®
program, which qualifies units in multi-family buildings of three stories or less or multi-family
buildings of four or five stories for the ENERGY STAR label. This includes mixed-use buildings
that have their own heating, cooling, and hot water systems, separate from other units.
EPA envisions the following scope for harmonizing the WaterSense new home specification
•	Single-family homes and townhomes
•	Residential units in multi-family buildings of three stories or less in size

New Homes Draft Specification Public Meeting Summary
•	Residential units in multi-family buildings, including mixed-use buildings, that have
independent heating, cooling, and hot water systems separate from other units
Proposed Modifications to Product Requirements
EPA is proposing updates to the existing requirements of the new home specification because
many of the product requirements predate WaterSense specifications for those products. The
specification currently allows for a maximum combined flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm)
for showerheads. The modified new home specification would require all showerheads to be
WaterSense labeled and adjust the total flow rate for multiple showerheads to 2.0 gpm. The
modified specification would also require that all irrigation systems use WaterSense labeled
controllers if weather-based irrigation controllers are used. In addition, EPA has allowed for the
continued use of sensor-based controllers and adjusted the feature requirements to be more in
line with what is included in the final specification for WaterSense labeled controllers. EPA
continues to look into an enforcement date for this requirement to ensure builders have enough
products to choose from so as not to unnecessarily restrict the number of products available.
Proposed Modifications to Landscape Design
EPA currently allows two options for complying with landscape requirements. Specifically, these
•	Regionally based allocations determined using the WaterSense Water Budget Tool
•	Maximum turf allocation determined using a set percentage (i.e., 40 percent) of the
landscaped area
The proposed modification would require use of the Water Budget Tool and would eliminate the
turf allocation option.
After two years of use, the Water Budget Tool is more familiar to and used by many
WaterSense stakeholders. It has been used in the vast majority of WaterSense labeled homes
to date and is harmonized with the LEED® for Homes 2012 rating system. The Water Budget
Tool provides more flexibility in landscape design, applies to a broader range of landscapes,
takes into account local weather patterns, and rewards projects for making more water-efficient
landscape design and irrigation choices.
Comments, Questions, and Answers
All comments, questions, and responses received or provided during the public meeting are
summarized below. Discussions are grouped by topic and follow the order of the meeting
Proposed Scope of Modification
Q: For the inspection checklists, does EPA plan to ask the building code community for its
input? (Dyke Spencer, Powdersville Water District)

New Homes Draft Specification Public Meeting Summary
A: Currently, EPA has circulated the inspection checklists among WaterSense providers and
inspectors. EPA will certainly consider circulating them more broadly to the code official
community as well.
Q: Will the specification require separate metering for the pool and common-use irrigation, or
can the same meter be used for both? (Kathy Nguyen, Cobb County Water System)
A: As currently written in the draft specification, separate meters are required to meet the
outdoor water use criteria. If any builder or other meeting participant believes EPA should
reconsider this approach, please submit a public comment to EPA on this topic.
Q: How much of a departure from current building practices is the requirement to have a meter
for every unit in a multi-family building? Is that something that would add significant costs, or is it
already common practice? I don't know if builders will find this criterion to be objectionable.
(Frank Kinder, Colorado Springs Utilities)
A: Based on EPA's preliminary research, there are no consistent practices for metering of multi-
family building units. EPA encourages any builder or other meeting participant who is
knowledgeable on the matter to submit comments to EPA if they believe such a requirement
would pose a significant burden to builders.
Q: Regarding the distinction between residential and commercial landscape designs, won't this
involve new stakeholders, contractors, or even licensing? (Tom Reynolds, Water Balance, LLC)
A: That is certainly a possibility with multi-family buildings; however, local requirements for the
different types of licensing would still apply. EPA is aware that there is an educational burden in
terms of reaching out to new stakeholders and educating new users; however, EPA does not
believe that the specification will need to differentiate between commercial and residential
Comment: I believe that the specification should differentiate between commercial and
residential stakeholders, particularly since commercial projects pose greater public safety and
liability concerns. Also, the specification should consider any differences that may arise from
builders conforming to commercial versus residential building standards.
A: If any builder or other meeting participant has any comments or concerns on the matter, EPA
encourages them to submit their comments to us, so that our technical team can review whether
any portions of the specification would not be covered by local licensing and legal processes.
Q: Can you elaborate on the rationale for having the WaterSense specification yield to
ENERGY STAR requirements for always-on recirculating water pumps? (Chuck De Smet,
FloLogic, Inc.)
A: EPA has reviewed field studies that show conflicting information about the water savings
potential of temperature-based, always-on recirculation systems. At the same time, these
studies consistently demonstrate significant impacts on energy use, due to the constant use of
energy to heat the recirculated water. Even though water efficiency is the primary focus of the
WaterSense program, we do not want to promote it at the expense of energy efficiency. EPA
has good data on the water savings potential of on-demand systems, which it knows uses less
energy than always-on recirculation systems. For this reason, EPA has allowed the use of on-
demand recirculation systems in the specification.

New Homes Draft Specification Public Meeting Summary
Q: We have noticed that, nationally, utilities are more likely to classify multi-family buildings as
commercial buildings, rather than as residential buildings. We believe this makes a big
difference in how utilities meter their services (i.e., gas, sewer, electric, water). Does EPA have
any input on this issue? (Larry Acker, ACT Inc. Metlund Systems)
A: EPA has observed a lack of consistency on how local jurisdictions classify residential multi-
family buildings. Do you have any examples of problems arising from this lack of consistency, or
do you believe this is an issue EPA will have to address from an educational outreach
Comment: What we are finding is that most multi-family buildings are classified as residential
structures; however, we believe that the classification can affect the type of metering programs
that utilities would apply to new homes.
Q: Regarding the specification requirement for no more than one half-gallon of water flow from
the hot water delivery system. I assume this measure is a total volume from the hot water
source to the fixture? (Larry Acker, ACT Inc. Metlund Systems)
A: It would be one half-gallon, as measured from either the recirculation loop or the water
Q: Is there a reason why EPA selected 0.5 gallons for the hot water distribution metric? (Larry
Acker, ACT Inc. Metlund Systems)
A: EPA has posted all of our comments and decision-making processes for that value online.
We recommend that any interested participant review the EPA website at
www.epa.gov/watersense/new homes/homes final.html.
Comment: I believe 0.5 gallons is a lot of water. Users will have to wait a long time for hot water
to reach the fixture, and this wait may contribute to additional water usage, since users are more
likely to run the water and walk away.
Q: Can multi-family buildings of three stories or less use any type of hot water delivery system,
so long as it meets the half-gallon water flow requirement? (Larry Acker, ACT Inc. Metlund
A: This is correct. If the hot water delivery system does not meet the specification requirement
from a design standpoint, then builders will need to utilize technology that isn't prohibited in the
specification, such as hot water recirculation systems or on-demand water heating systems.
Note that the specification prohibits the use of time- or temperature-based recirculation or
always on circulation loops.
Comment: I understand and agree there are several ways to meet the half-gallon requirement;
however, I believe that 0.5 gallons is too great of a volume to allow for the efficient delivery of
hot water. This volume would be equivalent to running a 45- to 50-foot line to the fixture.
Q: Are you seeing any price options from providers and inspectors such as a package deal with
regard to inspecting multi-family units? (Frank Kinder, Colorado Springs Utilities)
A: EPA is not able to provide pricing options for providers/inspectors. Builders should contact
LCPs individually to get quotes.

New Homes Draft Specification Public Meeting Summary
Q: Are there any standardization techniques or technologies in the demand actuated systems
that multi-family builders have embraced if they are unable to meet it from a design standpoint?
(Frank Kinder, Colorado Springs Utilities)
A: EPA does not endorse any one technology, but several techniques are available in the
builder guidance at www.epa.gov/watersense/new homes/homes final.html to assist builders in
meeting this requirement.
Q: What is the logic behind the requirement of a multi-family building larger than three stories
having individual unit heating and cooling equipment, as well as water heating equipment?
(Chris McTaggart, Building Efficiency Resources)
A: EPA extended this requirement to include individual heating and cooling units because when
you move to central heating and cooling, a cooling tower could be a substantial use of water
and there aren't any criteria to address that water use in the current specification. It would
require a fundamental change in how EPA looked at the water use in the building.
Q: What is the benefit of stating a specific story requirement for having individual unit water
heating equipment? (Chris McTaggart, Building Efficiency Resources)
A: The reason central boiler systems are allowed in multi-family buildings three stories or less is
to strike a happy medium, as building codes in these types of buildings tend to be more
residential than taller buildings. This would allow a building to meet the specification criteria
using a centrally located source, several centrally located sources, or an on-demand
recirculation system.
Q: Smaller municipalities do not always have the resources to monitor multiple sub-meters for a
multi-unit facility. In many instances, they use a master meter for each building and would fall
under the purview of the management of the complex. Would this be how WaterSense
envisions the individual metering working? (Sara Borgers, City of Brighton)
A: Yes, EPA has tried to leave the door open not only for meters and sub-meters, but also for
alternative technologies that can track water use on a per-unit basis. WaterSense is aware that
how the unit is metered is up to the utility and varies from district to district.
Q: What is the basis for the sub-metering aspect of the specification, and how will the data be
used? (Tom Reynolds, Water Balance, LLC)
A: The WaterSense label applies to the home as it is built. WaterSense is concerned with
setting up a system that is capable of determining how much water is being used at each unit
from an educational and behavioral standpoint, as well as from a management standpoint to
identify where leaks might be present. All comments and EPA responses will be posted to the
WaterSense website as EPA moves forward from the draft to final specification.
Comment: Chapel Hill, NC has had more than 30 apartment complexes install sub-metering
systems serving a total of about 5,700 apartments. They did this for economic reasons— to
pass on the costs of water and sewer services directly to the residents and more equitably
distribute those costs to the tenants. Some of these are new apartment complexes, and some
are existing complexes that found it was technically and economically feasible to retrofit for sub-
meters. They contract out the sub-meter installation, remote reading, and billing services. The
Town of Chapel Hill has mandated installation of sub-meters for some new multi-family

New Homes Draft Specification Public Meeting Summary
development projects that went through the special use/conditional use permit process. We
have looked at before-retrofit and post-retrofit use for these sub-metered complexes and found
the average daily water use per dwelling unit is about 20 percent less for the sub-metered
complexes. We master-meter these complexes, and they re-bill their tenants. (Patrick Davis,
Orange Water and Sewer Authority)
Proposed Modifications to Product Requirements: Showerheads and Irrigation Controllers
Q: Has there been discussion on pressure-regulating sprinkler heads? (Tom Kundrat, Rainbird)
A: The guidance EPA gives to irrigation partners is that the flow rate of the sprinkler head
should be determined by the manufacturer recommended range.
Q: Are WaterSense labeled controllers currently available in the marketplace? (Sean Golden,
Yamasaki Landscape Architecture)
A: Yes, a list of labeled controllers can be found on the WaterSense website at
www.epa.gov/watersense/product search.html.
Proposed Modifications to Landscape Design
Q: The Water Budget Tool lets the user classify turfgrass as a low water-using plant. Will there
be logical controls as to what constitutes turfgrass? (Kent Sovocol, Southern Nevada Water
A: Typically, local resources influence how plants are classified. While there isn't a national
resource, builders and landscape designers have to provide the local resource and demonstrate
why they think it's a legitimate claim that this would be classified as a low water-using turfgrass.
WaterSense has integrated some local plant lists in the Water Budget Tool and on its website at
www.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor/what to plant.html. Stakeholders are encouraged to submit
local resources that are not listed to assist in building the catalog.
Comment: In Michigan, there is an interactive low impact development (LID) planting guide
available through the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments at
www.semcog.org/LowlmpactDevelopment.aspx. (Dendra Best, Wastewater Education)
Other Questions and Comments
Q: What is the process for including leak detection technology in the WaterSense new homes
specification? (Chuck De Smet, FloLogic, Inc.)
A: If your organization has a technology that you think will be useful, please submit this
information to watersense@epa.gov, and it will be reviewed by the WaterSense technical team.
Q: Does EPA see the opportunity for grants to assist communities to buy meters in bulk?
(Dendra Best, Wastewater Education)
A: Due to budgetary constraints, grant assistance from EPA is not available at this time.