WaterSense New Homes Specification

Recent IA Activities

IA Submits Comments Regarding WaterSense New Homes Specification Version 1.1

May 7, 2012 
On March 22, WaterSense released a new draft version of their new home labeling specification. The new version 1.1 follows up on an earlier notification of intent released by the EPA indicating their intentions to update the single-family new home specification to now include single-family homes and townhomes, three stories or less in size, or residential units in multi-family buildings, three stories or less in size, or residential units in multifamily buildings, including mixed-use buildings, that have independent heating, cooling, and hot water systems separate from other units, and removes the 40 percent turf grass restriction as an option for landscape design. 
The new draft specification made these changes and called for public comments ending on May 7, 2012. The Irrigation Association submitted comments on behalf of the irrigation and can be read by clicking here
It is IA’s hope that a final specification will be released in the Fall of 2012. 

Member Alert: Call to Support EPA's Decision to Remove 40% Turf Restriction From WaterSense New Homes

Nov. 21, 2011 
On Oct, 25, WaterSense released a notification of intent, announcing proposed changes to the single-family new home specification -- including the removal of the 40 percent turfgrass restriction as an option for landscape design. 

The Irrigation Association fully supports the decision and we look forward to working with WaterSense on the use of the Water Budget Tool and other recommended changes outlined in the notification of intent. 

The notification of intent is currently open for public comment. We urge all members to submit comments to the EPA regarding the proposed changes to the WaterSense single-family new home specification.

Please click here for IA-developed suggested comments and directions on how to submit comments to the EPA by Dec. 21. 

Thanks for your help in supporting the landscape irrigation industry. If you have any questions regarding the WaterSense notification of intent or the IA comments, please contact IA’s government and public affairs director

IA Statement Regarding EPA’s Notification of Intent to Remove 40% Turfgrass Restriction Option From Single-Family New Home Specification

Oct. 25, 2010 
The Irrigation Association applauds the recent announcement of the WaterSense program’s intent to remove the 40 percent turfgrass restriction from the single-family new home specification. WaterSense’s announcement culminates three years of the Irrigation Association’s efforts to remove this option from the new homes specification.
Released in December 2009, the final specification of the WaterSense single-family new home labeling program that enabled a new home to qualify for a WaterSense label contained two options for landscape design: 1) adhere to a water budget tool, or 2) restrict the use of turfgrass to 40 percent of the landscapable area. With the recent announcement by WaterSense, the only requirement for builders wishing to be eligible for this labeling would be to adhere to the water budget tool.
“This announcement by WaterSense is a huge win for the irrigation industry,” said IA’s Government and Public Affairs Director John Farner. “IA’s volunteers, staff and industry partners should celebrate this move.”
The WaterSense notification of intent identifies the process for stakeholder input regarding the decision to remove the turfgrass restriction, along with several other changes to the single-family new home specification, including the requirement to use labeled weather-based irrigation controllers.
“We look forward to WaterSense implementing these recommendations within the revised new home specification,” continued Farner. “With these recommendations, the Irrigation Association looks to be a strong partner in supporting and promoting WaterSense labeled products, irrigation professionals and programs.”
To view the official WaterSense notification of intent, please visit click here. For more information about IA's position on WaterSense labeling, please contact IA government and public affairs director.

IA Statement Regarding Congressional Authorization of the WaterSense program

July 30, 2010
 The Irrigation Association is against Congressional authorization of the WaterSense program due to the prescriptive turfgrass limitation option within the WaterSense specification for single-family new homes. If the prescriptive turf limitation option was removed from the program, IA would support authorization.

IA Statement Regarding the WaterSense Final Single-Family New Home Specification

Jan. 21, 2010  
On Dec. 10, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its final specification relating to the voluntary single-family new homes WaterSense labeling program. Over the past two years, the Irrigation Association has engaged WaterSense program leadership, advocating for the development of a science-based new home specification that promotes IA’s and WaterSense's goal of increasing water-use efficiency in the marketplace. 

IA welcomes and supports the positive changes made in the final specification. For example, the specification now includes a more realistic 0.65 distribution uniformity audit requirement (changed from 0.70), a requirement to have WaterSense-certified professionals design or install and audit the irrigation system, and an allowance for turfgrass (in addition to other vegetation) on slopes in excess of four feet of horizontal run per one foot vertical rise. However, IA also believes the prescriptive elements of the final specification, such as the 40-percent turf limitation, should be removed, as they are not based on sound science. 

The Irrigation Association is committed to helping members who are WaterSense irrigation partners take advantage of the business opportunities associated with the WaterSense new home program, including the development of programs to educate and assist the irrigation and homebuilding industries on the specifics for meeting the irrigation requirements of the specification. IA also plans to work with WaterSense partners and the WaterSense program staff to promote the use of “Option 1,” the water budget calculator, as the preferred approach to landscape design. 

IA also remains committed to developing new tools, innovating new products and advancing best management practices relating to the promotion of efficient irrigation. IA will continue a healthy dialogue with WaterSense program leadership to ensure that these efforts and developments are adopted by WaterSense during future iterations of the single family new home specification. 

Finally, IA appreciates the work of WaterSense staff and affected stakeholders that went into the final development of the specification and looks forward to promoting the use of efficient irrigation through the WaterSense labeling programs, including irrigation professionals, irrigation products and single-family new homes. IA encourages feedback, both positive and negative experiences, from irrigation professionals participating in the WaterSense single-family new home program.

Irrigation Association Board Reconfirms Position on WaterSense Homes Program

Nov. 6, 2009 

Since May 2008, the residential landscape and irrigation industries have been deliberating the content and revisions of EPA's Water-Efficient Single-Family New Home Specification. The opportunities and implications of such a program have become a constant undertone in almost every discussion related to the future of the landscape and irrigation industries. The Irrigation Association believes that the new home spec is being released prematurely; current flaws make it unacceptable to the irrigation industry, developers and water providers. The outcome is yet to be determined. 

As stated in IA's comments submitted on July 2, "The Irrigation Association recommends to the EPA that decisions impacting landscape irrigation should be driven locally and that EPA not move forward with the outdoor criteria of the specification until locally-driven and clearer, outcome-based performance criteria are developed in partnership with qualified stakeholders." 

In September of this year, the IA Board of Directors debated the issue further and considered the WaterSense for New Homes IA Task Force recommendation to take a stronger stance against the program. On Sept. 15, in a meeting with six members of EPA's WaterSense team, IA's executive director, industry development director and federal affairs director delivered the message that if launched in its current format, the association could not support the new homes program. 

The board met again by conference call on Oct. 30 to discuss the status of EPA's WaterSense Specifications for New Homes. The board confirmed that the association "strenuously objects to the new homes specifications in its current format, and continues to proactively work toward offering an acceptable solution to the dilemma." 

While the association is deeply concerned about the new homes program, IA continues to support the WaterSense labeling program for irrigation partners and products. There are currently over 770 irrigation partners listed on EPA's WaterSense web site, and EPA plans to label its first set of irrigation products — weather-based controllers — in early 2011. 

Read a summary of IA’s concerns regarding the WaterSense homes program.

Irrigation Association Submits Comments to EPA Regarding New Home Specifications

July 7, 2009 

Today, the Irrigation Association submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in response to the draft WaterSense Water-Efficient Single-Family New Home Specifications. These comments were developed with significant irrigation stakeholder input through the leadership of IA's WaterSense Specifications for New Homes Task Force. 

IA thanks everyone involved with landscape design, maintenance and irrigation who submitted comments directly to EPA. 

Released in May of 2009, the second draft of the specifications establishes the criteria for the program, applicable to newly constructed single-family homes and townhomes, three stories or less in size. The outdoor criteria focus on landscape design, a water budget, and an irrigation audit, among others specifics regarding the irrigation system and design. 

IA continues to maintain and recommends to EPA that decisions impacting landscape irrigation should be driven locally and that EPA not move forward with the outdoor criteria of the specification until locally driven and clearer outcome-based performance criteria are developed in partnership with qualified stakeholders. The comments linked below are not to be seen as support for the specifications, but rather a reflection of the best options as we see fit given the draft presented to the public for comment. 

IA continues a dialogue with the WaterSense program in hopes that significant changes will be made to the specifications. In a recent meeting, the IA Board of Directors stated that unless significant changes are made to the water budget, landscape design requirements/restrictions and the prescriptive manner in which the specifications are written, the Irrigation Association will not support the new homes labeling component of the WaterSense program. 

EPA has indicated that the specifications will be released in December 2009. 

Read IA’s comments or an editorial by Tim Malooly, chair of the association’s WaterSense Homes Specification Task Force.