Get to know this symbol because chances are it’s going to be as ubiquitous as the blue star of EPA’s other conservation program, ENERGY STAR. Launched in 2006 the EPA’s WaterSense program seeks “to enhance the market for water-efficient products and services by building a national brand for water efficiency.” Viewed mainly as a program for water-only products like toilets, faucets, and irrigation systems, WaterSense does not include appliances, like dishwashers or clothes washers, that use both water and energy – those remain under the ENERGY STAR program. In 2007, the EPA released WaterSense specifications for high efficiency toilets and high efficiency bathroom sink faucets. They also offer certification programs for several irrigation professionals, include golf course irrigation auditors. Specifications for showerheads are in the works.
WaterSense is about to become very popular in the green building community. In their proposed changes to the LEED programs, the US Green Building Council removed some specifications for water saving credits, replacing them with, “WaterSense-certified fixtures and fixture fittings should be used where available.” It’s much easier to check for the WaterSense label than it is to gather the specifications for every fixture.
WaterSense labeled bathroom faucets, at a maximum of 1.5 gallons per minute, reduce water consumption by at least 30%. WaterSense labeled high efficiency toilets, with a maximum of 1.28 gallons per flush, use at least 20% less water than standard 1.6 gallons per flush toilets. The EPA has claimed that if every home in the US switched to WaterSense labeled fixtures, we would save 60 billion gallons of water a year.
Though some companies were already offering fixtures compliant with the WaterSense standards, they are only recently getting literature out to the public about their WaterSense labeled fixtures. Expect to see it popping up everywhere.
Other articles on water conservation:
- Low Impact Living: A Thirsty Nation (Part 2)
- Touchless Faucets for the Home?
- It’s Time to Rethink Tub Sizes
edit (5/27): Updated WaterSense symbol