Are You Ready to Live in a Certified WaterSense home?

EPA has released a draft specification that will create standards that new homes must meet to be certified and labeled as WaterSense homes. These homes are estimated to reduce water usage by approximately 20 percent.

Homes earning the WaterSense label must meet criteria for indoor water use, outdoor water use, and homeowner education. Third party inspectors will certify that homes meet all the required criteria. Here are some of the requirements.

Indoor Water Use

  1. The static service pressure into the house has to be 60 pounds per square inch.
  2. All toilets shall be WaterSense labeled high efficiency toilets.
  3. All bathroom (lavatory) faucets shall be WaterSense labeled high efficiency faucets.
  4. Kitchen faucets have to have a maximum flow rate of 2.2 gpm @ 60 psi.
  5. Showerheads maximum flow rate of 2.5 gpm @ 80 psi (9.5 lpm @ 5.62 kg/cm2).
  6. House has to be designed such that less than 0.38 gallons (1.44 liters) of water are in the piping between the hot water source and any hot water fixture.
  7. Dishwashers shall be ENERGY STAR® labeled.
  8. Clothes washers shall be ENERGY STAR labeled with a water factor of less than or equal to 6.0 gallons of water per cycle per cubic foot capacity.


  1. EPA has developed two options for designing the landscape of WaterSense labeled new homes, builders shall choose and implement one of the options. Option 1 – Turf shall not exceed 40% of the landscapable area. Turf shall not be installed on slopes greater than 4:1. Option 2 – Develop the landscape design using a water budget approach. The evapotranspiration (ET) limit on the landscapable area shall be no more than 60 percent of the reference ET (ETo) for cool-season grass.
  2. Non-turf, non-hardscape areas shall include a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulching material.
  3. Builders shall not install or facilitate the installation of ornamental water features.
  4. All irrigation systems shall be designed, installed, and audited by a WaterSense Irrigation Partner.
  5. Sprinkler heads shall not be used to water plantings other than maintained turf grass.
  6. Irrigation controllers shall contain Capability to accept external soil moisture and/or rain sensors.

Homeowner Education

  1. A builder will develop and provide to the homebuyer a written operating and maintenance manual for all water-using equipment or controls installed in the house or yard.

EPA will start working with builder partners, who may begin constructing and promoting WaterSense labeled new homes as early as 2009. It will be interesting to see if a market develops for these labeled homes.