Expert Advice on Green Buildings

EPA WaterSense Products: Good for Your Wallet and the Environment

Product Review provided by: Sarah Gudeman, Morrissey Engineering, Inc.
Product Review

With all the ‘green’ products accosting consumers both at the commercial and residential levels (not to mention the rampant greenwashing) around these days, it’s sometimes hard to tell which products are the most reputable and actually deliver on their promises.

Launched in 2006, WaterSense is an EPA-sponsored program that “seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by promoting water efficiency and enhancing the market for water-efficient products, program and practices,” according to the EPA WaterSense website.

So what does that lengthy mission entail exactly? Basically, WaterSense acts as a platform for water utilities, governments, product manufacturers, retailers, consumers and others to come together and decrease non-agricultural water usage. This includes education, innovation, more efficient products and practices as well as rigorous certification criteria to ensure product efficiency, performance and quality.

So, when consumers see a bathroom sink faucet, showerhead, toilet, urinal, etc with the WaterSense label, they know it meets the following criteria (as well as the fact that the product manufacturer is a WaterSense partner). I kind of think of it as the water-efficiency counterpart to the ENERGY STAR label:

* Perform as well or better than their less efficient counterparts.
* Are 20 percent more water efficient than average products in that category.
* Realize water savings on a national level.
* Provide measurable water savings results.
* Achieve water efficiency through several technology options.
* Are effectively differentiated by the WaterSense label.
* Obtain independent, third-party certification.

It probably won’t come as a big surprise then that new homes are where the most water savings potential exists since it’s typically easier to do it right the first time as opposed to going through a retrofit of all fixtures in a home. WaterSense also has a homes label which it promotes helps save families an average of 10,000 gallons of water (20% from a baseline home) and at least $100 on utility costs each year (based on an average national utility rate).

The final category of items that can bear the independently certified WaterSense label (besides homes and products) is programs. WaterSense professional certification programs that focus on water efficiency include partnerships with certified irrigation professionals who design, install, maintain and audit water-efficient systems for WaterSense labeled homes.

And what conservation strategy would be complete without rebates? The WaterSense website provides rebate information for many local water utility providers, (not surprisingly, my home state of Nebraska is not included in this list yet.)

So save water, save money, save natural resources… seems like a no-brainer to me. For more information on WaterSense programs and products you can visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense/index.html.

 

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