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Water Conservation Rating for Residential Construction Projects

By Todd Westcott 12:27PM November 12, 2018

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Built Green Canada has partnered with the Green Builder® Coalition to bring performance-based water efficiency to Canada through its third-party certification programs’ water conservation section.

“Despite Canada’s water endowment, we are not immune to water shortages and periods of drought. Moreover, reductions in water usage will save energy, further contributing to the decrease in GHGs,” said Built Green Canada’s chief executive officer, Jenifer Christenson.

Water conservation in the residential building industry has not received the attention energy efficiency has, despite widespread threats to water security in Canada and globally. though they As such, Built Green Canada was motivated to design the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)®.

The WERS is based on measurable parameters and presented through a scoring scale of zero to 100, zero being the most desirable. Indoor water use considers the main plumbing fixtures of toilets, showers, bathroom and kitchen sinks, clothes washers, and structural waste. Running the shower for a while before getting hot water is structural waste, referring to the amount of water wasted before usable hot water arrives at the furthest hot-water using fixture.

WERS also includes the ability to account for all outdoor water use, as well as reuse via rainwater, greywater, and blackwater catchment calculations. Depending on the verified filtration methods for rainwater and greywater, they can be used to offset indoor water use. Additionally, any remaining unused rainwater, greywater and/or blackwater can be credited to potential outdoor use.

Greywater sieve for household water reuse. Image Credit: SuSanA Secretariat

“Industry and all orders of government increasingly are focused on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and in the residential building sector, the emphasis is on improving the energy performance of buildings,” said Christenson. “While energy efficiency is an essential component of sustainable building practices—and our programs—we want to broaden the conversation and shine a light on a more balanced approach that also includes indoor air quality, waste management, and water conservation—some of the key areas of our programs.”

Built Green Canada has recognized the pressure on municipalities to supply water to households through managing water demand and financing, or building and repairing water infrastructure. The reduction in water usage can help ease a number of challenges, including water shortages and increased energy consumption to pump and treat water, pollutants in water bodies, and the expansion of water and wastewater infrastructure.

“Water shortages and droughts don’t adhere to boundaries, so taking WERS beyond the borders of the United States is a natural progression for the program,” said Mike Collignon, executive director of the Green Builder® Coalition. “I’ve long felt that the policies and incentives that can be linked to WERS are equally applicable, and potentially more essential, outside the United States. We’re excited to partner with Built Green Canada on this journey.”

The WERS tool will be Canadianized in the coming months, verifier training will occur in the spring, and Built Green is encouraging trials through 2019 for its single family, renovation, and high density programs. Builders will earn points toward their BUILT GREEN® home certification, while being able to understand the overall performance of their projects’ water use and make smart choices on the products they incorporate into their builds—and pass-along the associated benefits to their customers.

Built Green Canada is an industry-driven, national, non-profit organization offering third-party certified programs in the residential building sector. The Green Builder® Coalition is the WERS Program sponsor.

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