RESNET Accepting Provider Applications for the WaterSense Program

September 17th, 2010 - Posted by RESNET under RESNET News, RESNET Notes, RESNET Notes - September 2010, Technical

RESNET is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure that licensed certification providers are trained on how to certify new homes and that WaterSense labeled home inspections have been verified by a trained quality assurance professional.  RESNET is providing oversight to ensure that a network of inspectors, quality assurance professionals, and licensed certification providers are in place to support the certification of thousands of WaterSense labeled new homes. This third-party certification process ensures that WaterSense labeled new homes will meet EPA’s efficiency and performance criteria.

WaterSense providers will need to have someone on their staff take the provider training. The person will be trained as the Quality Assurance Designee (QAD) for the WaterSense Program. RESNET requested qualifications for professional services from current WaterSense providers to conduct the WaterSense Provider training. Green Zone Home is the first WaterSense Provider Trainer.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the WaterSense Program:

General Questions

How did EPA develop its specification for new homes? Who provided input?

EPA developed the WaterSense Single-Family New Home Specification over a period of three years working with hundreds of stakeholders and conducting dozens of meetings. EPA solicited public comments on two draft versions of the specification and accompanying materials (i.e., water budget tool, inspection and irrigation audit materials) and one draft version of the new home certification system. Throughout the process, EPA consulted stakeholder groups including builders, certification providers, home energy raters, utilities, manufacturers, trade associations, WaterSense irrigation partners, landscapers, and other interested parties.

How much water does a WaterSense labeled home save?

EPA estimates that WaterSense labeled new homes use approximately 20 percent less water than typical new homes. Annual water savings are about 10,000 gallons of water (equal to 400 loads of laundry) and 580 kilowatts of energy (enough energy to power a television for four years).

Can we ensure a WaterSense labeled home will save water in the future?

Like most green building programs for new homes, WaterSense labeled new homes are certified to meet EPA criteria at the time they are built. EPA and its builder partners provide homeowner education and outreach to ensure that owners of WaterSense labeled new homes can maintain the water-efficiency features of the home and continue water-saving behaviors in the future.

Why does EPA require independent inspection and certification before a home can earn the WaterSense label?

As it does for all WaterSense labeled products, EPA requires certification by an independent third party to ensure the credibility of the WaterSense program, the integrity of the WaterSense brand, and verification that new homes meet the specification criteria.

How do homes become certified to the WaterSense specification?

The first step in the new home certification process is for a builder to join WaterSense and sign a partnership agreement. Once a partner builds a home to meet the WaterSense new homes specification, they need to have the home inspected. Only water-efficiency home inspectors that work for or with a WaterSense licensed certification provider are able to verify that a home meets the WaterSense new homes specification criteria.

After the inspector verifies that all of the relevant WaterSense criteria are met and submits the appropriate paperwork to the licensed certification provider for review, the licensed certification provider will issue the builder a certificate signed by both the licensed certification provider and inspector. This certificate serves as the WaterSense label and should be given to the homeowner by the builder.

How is the WaterSense certification system different from the ENERGY STAR system?

The WaterSense certification system is very similar to the one utilized by ENERGY STAR. The major difference is that only the licensed certification providers receive the digital files necessary to issue the label to the builder.

Who can issue the WaterSense label?

Only licensed certification providers may issue the WaterSense label for a new home.

Where can builders go to find water-efficiency home inspectors?

Water-efficiency home inspectors can be found by contacting RESNET, or through a licensed certification provider in your area. A list of licensed certification providers is available on the WaterSense Web site at www.epa.gov/watersense/Meet_Our_Partners.html.

How much does it cost to certify a home to the WaterSense specification?

The cost for inspection and certification is determined by inspectors and/or licensed certification providers. EPA anticipates that fees may range from $50 to $400, depending on whether the inspector is also providing rating or other services to the builder partner for another green building program.

How long does the inspection take?

Inspection time will vary from home to home, but EPA anticipates most inspections can be conducted within a single hour-long visit.

Can a home that fails the first inspection be re-inspected at a later date?

If a builder partner is able to resolve an issue while the inspector is still onsite, (e.g., reinstall a missing aerator on a WaterSense labeled faucet) the area of nonconformity can be re-inspected during the initial visit. If the issue cannot be immediately corrected, a builder partner can have a home re-inspected after addressing any areas of nonconformity that were identified in the first inspection. The total cost of the inspection will likely increase with each visit the inspector must make to the home.

Questions for Licensed Certification Providers or Accredited Rating Providers

I’m a RESNET accredited rating provider, can I also be a licensed certification provider for WaterSense?

Yes. Once someone on your staff has completed the required provider training, your organization will be eligible to sign up as a licensed certification provider for WaterSense. Licensed certification providers are able to perform both services. Please contact RESNET to see when the next available training will be held.

I’m currently a home energy rater who serves as my own provider. Can I serve as my own licensed certification provider for the WaterSense program?

Yes, you are able to serve as a licensed certification provider and a water-efficiency home inspector, provided your company is able to perform its own quality assurance. However, an individual inspector may not serve as the quality assurance designee or conduct the quality assurance functions for their own inspections. If your company provides both services and has a quality assurance designee that also performs inspections, you will need a second quality assurance designee to ensure that each inspector is overseen by an individual that is not performing any functions related to that inspector’s inspections.

I am not currently affiliated with RESNET, can I still be a licensed certification provider for WaterSense?

RESNET is currently only accepting applications for licensed certification providers from the existing accredited rating provider community.

RESNET Accredited Rating Providers interested in applying to be a WaterSense Provider can find more information at this link http://resnet.us/programs/watersense_become or you can contact Laurel Elam at laurel@resnet.us for more information.

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