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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]todesigns.com and Leslie at 505-670-7578, leslie.gior[email protected]props.com, and visit www.palosantodesigns.com.