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Those of you whomay have built or bought a new home in the City of Santa Fe over the last few years may be fa­mil­iar with the terms “HERS Rat­ing.” HERS (Home En­ergy Rat­ing Sys­tem) is a tool for mea­sur­ing the en­ergy per­for­mance of a home. It has be­come the stan­dard method across North Amer­ica for rank­ing homes in terms of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. Much like the MPG (miles per gal­lon) rat­ing on a car, a HERS rat­ing de­scribes how en­ergy-ef­fi­cient a home will be. But en­ergy per­for­mance is not the only way to quan­tify a home’s ef­fi­ciency.

Wa­ter ef­fi­ciency is all too im­por­tant in this era of ever-grow­ing scarcity of wa­ter re­sources. And homes are a ma­jor source of wa­ter con­sump­tion. Santa Fe is known as one of the most wa­ter-ef­fi­cient cities in the coun­try, and it would make sense that the City Dif­fer­ent would spawn a Wa­ter Ef­fi­ciency Rat­ing Sys­tem. And in fact we have. Thanks to the com­bined ef­forts of wa­ter-ef­fi­ciency ex­perts from the Santa Fe Area Home Builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion (SFAHBA), Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Col­lege and oth­ers from the Foun­da­tion for Build­ing and Green Build­ing Coali­tion, the launch of a new Wa­ter Ef­fi­ciency Rat­ing Sys­tem (WERS) tool is im­mi­nent. SFAHBA’s Green Build­ing Coun­cil pro­vided a por­tion of the seed money to de­sign and de­velop a math­e­mat­i­cal model for mea­sur­ing and scor­ing a home’s wa­ter ef­fi­ciency per­for­mance.

Ma­jor com­po­nents of the tool in­clude cal­cu­lat­ing typ­i­cal wa­ter con­sump­tion from var­i­ous plumb­ing fixtures based on their gal­lons-per-minute or gal­lons-per-flush rat­ing, and the house­hold oc­cu­pancy level. It is a per­for­mance-based method that al­lows home­own­ers, ar­chi­tects, and builders to pri­or­i­tize fixtures that are best suited to their per­sonal needs/de­sires while re­duc­ing wa­ter use. The WERS tool also en­cour­ages the use of rain­wa­ter and grey­wa­ter as sources of out­door ir­ri­ga­tion and in­door use (with proper pro­to­cols for health and safety).

The lo­cal de­vel­op­ers of the WERS tool worked ex­ten­sively with ex­perts from around the coun­try to as­sure the method would be ap­pro­pri­ate across a na­tional plat­form. Ma­jor na­tional play­ers in­cluded RESNET (the li­cens­ing agent of the HERS pro­to­col) and ma­jor hous­ing de­vel­op­ers are tak­ing no­tice of our ef­forts, as they look to adopt wa­ter-ef­fi­ciency tools by which to rate homes. And with the com­ing 60-day ses­sion of our state leg­is­la­ture, ef­forts to re­new and re­fund the Sus­tain­able Build­ing Tax Credit will likely find broader sup­port with the in­clu­sion of a WERS-type pro­vi­sion.

It is likely that na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions like RESNET will be look­ing closely at our lo­cally crafted WERS tool as they be­gin in­clud­ing wa­ter con­ser­va­tion in their set of rat­ing tools. This will only fur­ther bol­ster Santa Fe’s rep­u­ta­tion as a leader in wa­ter con­ser­va­tion na­tion­ally, and help to in­flu­ence law­mak­ers here at home for in­clu­sion of con­ser­va­tion re­quire­ments in new poli­cies.

Mark Gior­getti and Les­lie Gior­getti are both prin­ci­pals at Palo Santo De­signs, a Santa Fe de­sign-build con­trac­tor spe­cial­iz­ing in high-per­for­mance homes. Mark is pres­i­dent of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion and Les­lie is an as­so­ciate bro­ker with Santa Fe Prop­er­ties. Con­tact Mark at 505-6704236, [email protected]­tode­ and Les­lie at 505-670-7578, les­lie.gior­[email protected]­, and visit www.palosan­tode­

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