water efficiency

Updated: Jan 21

The EPA Act of 1992

This act deals entirely with energy efficiency and the regulation of water fixtures like shower heads, toilets, and faucets.


All fixtures manufactured after this policy was enacted must comply with the following:

  • Toilets | 1.6 gpf

  • Urinals | 1.0 gpf

  • Residential Faucets | 2.2 gpm (60 psi)

  • Commercial Faucets | 0.5 gpm (plumbing code)

  • Showerheads | 2.5 gpm (80 psi)

High Efficiency fixtures that meet Energy Star or WaterSense specifications are as follows:

  • Toilets | 1.28 gpf

  • Urinals | no specs

  • Residential Faucets | 1.5 gpm (60 psi)

  • Commercial Faucets | no specs

  • Showerheads | no specs

* toilets are always measured in gallons per flush (gpf) and faucets/flowing fixtures measured in gallons per minute (gpm)


WE Credits

There are 11 points available in the Water Efficiency category. Credits are given to projects that accomplish these goals:

  1. Reduce quantity of water used inside the building and for irrigating landscaping

  2. Reduce municipal water usage

  3. Reduce need for treatment of wastewater

Prerequisites for WE are:

  • Outdoor water use reduction by at least 30%

  • Indoor water use reduction by at least 20%

  • Building-level water metering that measures potable water usage (irrigation sub-metering is encouraged but is not included in the prerequisite)

Strategies for Outdoors

Native plants: using plants that are native to the region requires less watering, fertilizer, and pest control

Adaptive plants: plants that are non-native, but behave similarly to native plantings and perform well in the local climate

Xeriscaping: landscaping that requires little or no irrigation

Rainwater harvesting: collect rainwater in a cistern or detention cell for use in irrigation

Green roofs: vegetation planted over a waterproofing system on a rooftop

  • Intensive green roof: allows for deeply rooted plantings such as trees and can accommodate larger structures, often includes elaborate gardens and can is designed for occupant traffic. Intensive green roofs are more costly. Memory trick: the most intense of the green roofs

  • Extensive green roof: uses a shallow growing medium that requires minimal watering. Not designed to be accessible. Extensive green roofs are a less expensive way to provide open space and reduce heat island effect. Memory trick: this green roof can extend across the entire building at a lower cost

Strategies for Indoors

High efficiency toilets: Toilets that use 1.28 gpf

Waterless urinals and compostable toilets

WaterSense: backed by the EPA, helps users identify best performance and efficiency

Dual-flush toilets: Provides two buttons, one is a half-flush and the other is a full flush

Motion sensors: only activated when in use

Low flow aerators: fixtures with low flow aerators are 1.5 gpm, save 30% more water

Grey or rainwater reuse system: utilize non-potable water sources to flush toilets (some local codes have different definitions of greywater and what may be used for this purpose)

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