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WaterSense: Meets EPA Critera WaterSense Seal An EPA Partnership Program

Comprehensive List of all Frequent Questions

General Questions

Certification Programs for Irrigation Professionals Questions

Product Certification and Labeling Questions

General

Manufacturers

WaterSense Product Certification System

High-Efficiency Toilet (HET) Questions

High-Efficiency Bathroom Sink Faucet Questions

Flushing Urinals Questions

WaterSense Labeled New Homes Questions

General Questions

Why did EPA create WaterSense?

EPA realized that managing water supplies was becoming an increasingly important issue to local markets around the country. Through this national program, local water utilities, product manufacturers, and retailers will work with EPA to encourage the use of water-efficient products and practices among consumer and commercial audiences.

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Why does the United States need a water-efficiency program?

Water is a finite resource. Between 70 and 75 percent of the Earth's surface is covered with water, but only 1 percent of that is available for human use. While both population and demand on freshwater resources are increasing, supply remains constant—there is the same amount of water now as there was 2 billion years ago. Water efficiency helps preserve our water supply for future generations.

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What is the goal of WaterSense?

The main goal of the program is to decrease indoor and outdoor nonagricultural water use through more efficient products, equipment, and programs. With its recognizable label, WaterSense helps consumers easily identify water-efficient products in the marketplace while ensuring product performance and encouraging innovation in manufacturing.

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How will success be measured?

EPA will estimate gallons of water saved by individuals and organizations purchasing water-efficient products instead of those that use more water. EPA will also examine the savings that result from using irrigation professionals that are certified in water-efficient installation and maintenance practices and the increase in awareness of water-efficient products and practices.

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What products will be included in the WaterSense program?

Irrigation professionals and residential plumbing products are among the first categories in the program. EPA plans to research several options to expand product areas in the future, including additional indoor and outdoor home products, as well as commercial products.

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How will water-efficient products and programs be labeled/recognized?

EPA developed the WaterSense label to differentiate products in the marketplace that meet EPA criteria for efficiency and performance, as well as programs that meet EPA criteria for water efficiency. The label will appear on product cartons and packaging, be adhered directly to the product, be featured on in-store displays, and be found in manufacturer literature and Web sites. EPA also maintains a registry of labeled products on the WaterSense Web site.

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How can I find more information about product certification and labeling?

Products bearing the WaterSense label are certified to conform with the relevant specification by an EPA licensed certifying body. Manufacturers apply directly to the licensed certifying body for certification and to obtain the WaterSense label.

There are several key steps involved with using the WaterSense label. Please review the Product Certification and Labeling Frequent Questions below or the WaterSense Product Certification and Labeling fact sheet, or visit the WaterSense product certification page for more information.

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What are the WaterSense label and logos?

WaterSense has two different labels and two different logos that have specific purposes. For more information, please visit the What are the WaterSense Label and Logos? page.

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How are specifications for products determined?

For each product under consideration, EPA conducts extensive market research to analyze potential specifications. EPA develops specifications with stakeholder input and prepares draft efficiency and performance criteria as an open process, soliciting input from stakeholders to ensure that the most appropriate criteria for each product category is included. Once EPA finalizes the draft specification, it is available for public comment. EPA will refine the draft specifications based on the comments and feedback, and then will release them again in either draft or final form. The number of rounds of public review will depend on the product schedule, and the nature and extent of comments on the prior draft.

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How does EPA ensure that products meet the criteria?

Products are independently certified by a third party to confirm that they meet EPA's criteria for efficiency and performance. Before a product receives the WaterSense label, an EPA-licensed certifying body must certify that it conforms to the relevant WaterSense product specification. Labeled products are also subject to ongoing surveillance to ensure that they continue to conform to the relevant WaterSense specification.

Effective as of April 2009, EPA has instituted its own product certification system. This system specifies the requirements for the product certification process and establishes a mechanism for EPA-approved accreditation organizations to approve and oversee WaterSense-related product certifications in accordance with international guidelines.

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Why did EPA choose third-party certification instead of self-certification?

EPA chose independent certification by a third party to confirm that the product meets the WaterSense efficiency and performance criteria.

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Is there an opportunity for public comments on proposed specifications?

Yes. The program will strive to use a process similar to ENERGY STAR to solicit public comments on proposed specifications. There will be an open workshop 4-6 weeks after the draft specification is released to receive comments. EPA will also receive written comments from those unable to attend to meeting.

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How does EPA coordinate with local water utilities?

Local water utilities have been very supportive in the development of the program. Many utilities already have efforts in place to increase the water efficiency of residential and commercial irrigation systems. Utilities are encouraged to incorporate WaterSense into their local water-efficiency and conservation efforts.

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How is WaterSense similar to ENERGY STAR? How is WaterSense different from ENERGY STAR?

WaterSense is similar to ENERGY STAR in that both programs work toward market enhancement and public recognition through the labeling of products and programs. One of the main differences between these two programs is that WaterSense requires third-party certification of its products and services, ensuring that they comply with WaterSense's specifications. Another major difference is that WaterSense focuses on water-using products and services that don't require energy to run, solely focusing on their water-efficient properties. ENERGY STAR includes water-using products that conserve energy.

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What more can I do to save water for future generations?

EPA conducts a number of activities to encourage consumers and organizations to use less water. Information on how to use water efficiently is posted on our Web site and available on our fact sheets and other publications. This new program adds the product focus to our ongoing activities.

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Is water supply an issue everywhere in the United States?

There are many markets in the United States that already face water shortages, and the number of markets facing this issue is projected to grow in the future. A Government Accountability Office survey of water managers across the country showed that 36 states were anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013, even under non-drought conditions. Water efficiency is a much more cost-effective tool to help local markets manage water supply issues than developing new sources.

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How can water efficiency help local communities?

Water supply infrastructure is a major cost for most local markets across the United States. In 2002, an EPA report identified a $224 billion gap in planned infrastructure investment as compared to needs. Water efficiency is one key way that local communities can help manage their infrastructure needs.

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Which areas of the country have the largest water supply challenges?

Water use varies greatly depending on geographic location and season, largely as a result of differences in climate. For instance, water use needs tend to be higher in the West and Southwest than in the East or Midwest. However, water and wastewater infrastructure systems across the country are being challenged by population growth and aging components. Water efficiency can lessen the stress on these systems and extend their useful life. Further complicating the issue of water supply and availability is the fact that population growth is greatest in states that have more limited water resources.

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Certification Programs for Irrigation Professionals Questions

How did EPA set the final specifications for certification programs for irrigation professionals?

EPA set the final specifications for certification programs for irrigation professionals to address both efficient irrigation system components and services. This will help customers identify professional service providers that embrace and encourage the use of water-efficient practices to enhance performance and efficiency.

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What certification programs are eligible for the WaterSense label?

WaterSense has recognized certification programs for irrigation professionals that meet the specification criteria. The specifications address certification programs in three categories:

  • Irrigation Auditor: Applies to programs that certify irrigation professionals who assess the proper functioning of existing irrigation systems, perform water audits, and recommend watering schedules.
  • Irrigation Installation and Maintenance Professional: Applies to programs that certify irrigation professionals who install new irrigation systems and/or repair and maintain existing irrigation systems.
  • Irrigation Designer: Applies to programs that certify irrigation professionals who develop the design of new irrigation systems and/or modifications to existing irrigation systems.

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How can certification programs for irrigation professionals use the label?

In order to use the label, the certifying organization must have signed a partnership agreement with EPA and have applied for and been accepted to use the label for its certification program(s).

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Can certified irrigation professionals use the WaterSense label?

Individuals who become certified under a WaterSense labeled certification program are not allowed to use the WaterSense label directly on their business cards, vehicles, promotional materials, etc. However, professionals certified under WaterSense labeled programs that provide services consistent with WaterSense specifications, can become WaterSense partners and use the WaterSense partner logo to promote their certification.

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Product Certification and Labeling Questions

General

Why does EPA require third-party certification?
EPA wants to ensure the WaterSense program's integrity and sustainability. EPA also wants to ensure consumer confidence in the products that bear the WaterSense label.

Licensed certifying bodies, independent of EPA and the product manufacturers, test products for both efficiency and performance, certify product conformance to WaterSense specifications, authorize use of the WaterSense label, and conduct periodic market surveillance. Third-party certification is the framework already established in the United States to independently verify that products in the marketplace meet specifications and standards.

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Will certification apply to all product categories?
EPA will require all WaterSense labeled products to be certified by a licensed certifying body. EPA may, however, adjust the specific certification requirements as appropriate for individual product categories.

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Are there licensed certifying bodies that can certify all products?

There are licensed certifying bodies that are currently accredited to certify a majority of the products for which EPA is interested in developing specifications. EPA anticipates that more licensed certifying bodies will obtain accreditation to certify products as additional WaterSense specifications are developed.

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How can stakeholders provide input on the specification development and certification processes?

EPA is interested in input from all stakeholders in the specification development and certification processes. EPA has established a list to notify interested persons when various programmatic elements are developed and released for public input. Please visit the Contact Us page to be added to the WaterSense e-mail and mailing list; remember to specify your interest in becoming part of the specification and certification development processes in the "Message" field.

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How does EPA maintain the integrity of the WaterSense label?

EPA maintains the integrity of the WaterSense label through several mechanisms:

  • Through the independent third-party certification process, licensed product certifying bodies provide surveillance for the proper use of the WaterSense label for the products that they certify—typically through periodic store audits or warehouse inspections.
  • WaterSense encourages its partners to be vigilant and report any suspected label misuse to EPA. If you see a product you believe to be improperly labeled, please contact the WaterSense Helpline at (866) WTR-SENS (987-7367), or e-mail us.
  • WaterSense encourages partners to submit print and Web materials for pre-press review. EPA provides prompt review and ensures that the use of the label is consistent with WaterSense guidelines.
  • WaterSense conducts periodic reviews of partner Web sites to ensure that the label is used properly.
  • WaterSense conducts periodic Google image searches to detect misuse of the label by non-partners. When label misuse occurs by a WaterSense partner, EPA contacts the relevant licensed certifying body, which handles necessary corrective actions. If a non-partner misuses the label, EPA engages in corrective action directly with the infringing party. In all instances, EPA strives to resolve matters quickly and fairly in order to preserve public confidence in the WaterSense program.

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Manufacturers

How can my product earn the WaterSense label?

The first step toward obtaining the WaterSense label is for the product manufacturer to enter into a WaterSense partnership agreement with EPA. Manufacturers can sign a WaterSense partnership agreement with EPA once a draft specification has been released for a product they produce or manufacture under a private label. Under the partnership agreement, manufacturers will have 12 months to obtain certification for a product that conforms to the relevant WaterSense specification.

The second step is to have one of EPA's licensed certifying bodies certify your product for conformance to the relevant WaterSense specification. Manufacturers apply directly to the licensed certifying body for certification. Once your product is certified, the licensed certifying body will provide you with artwork for the WaterSense label, including the name of the licensed certifying body. You must use this label in accordance with the WaterSense label use guidelines.

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Which certifying bodies can certify my products?

A listing of EPA licensed certifying bodies is posted on the WaterSense Web site or may be obtained from the WaterSense Helpline at (866) WTR-SENS (987-7367). Certifying bodies are approved for each individual specification, so be sure to choose one that is licensed to the WaterSense specification relevant to your products. Products may be certified by any licensed certifying body listed for the relevant WaterSense specification.

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What is generally involved in product certification?

Product certification involves product testing and an assessment of the production process and quality management system, both initially and on an ongoing basis. This may include factory visits, periodic product retesting, or other approaches to monitor the product's continued conformance to WaterSense specification requirements.

The general certification requirements applicable to all product categories are described in the WaterSense product certification system. EPA will evaluate and specify additional certification details for each new product category as part of the product specification development process.

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How will consumers know that my product has been certified?

Only products certified to WaterSense specifications are allowed to bear the WaterSense label. In addition, EPA maintains a Web registry of WaterSense labeled products. To get your products included on this list you must submit to EPA a new certified product notification form for toilets or for bathroom sink faucets for each certified model. EPA will verify the product certification information with the licensed certifying body that conducted the certification. This process, from notification to listing on the WaterSense Web site, may take up to two weeks.

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What is the cost of certification to product manufacturers?

The cost structure for product certification is determined by the licensed certifying bodies. EPA anticipates that the testing fee and cost for certification of products, which may include opening a new certification file or adding models to an existing file, will be in line with the current cost structure to have plumbing products certified by an accredited certifying body.

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How will this certification process impact smaller manufacturers of products?

In the development of its product certification system, EPA considered the impact on smaller manufacturers and worked to balance the cost and burden of the process with the rigor the program needs to maintain the WaterSense label's integrity.

While there will be some cost impact on all manufacturers to submit a product for certification, the strength of the WaterSense label should help products stand out in the marketplace. This should be of particular value to small business partners.

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How long will the process take from the time I submit my product for certification until the time when I can apply the WaterSense label to products?

The exact process and timing will be determined by the licensed certifying body conducting the certification. Licensed certifying bodies recognize that time to market is an important consideration and will compete for a manufacturer's business in this area. EPA anticipates that the time to achieve product certification to WaterSense specifications will be similar to the time it currently takes to get plumbing products certified to American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and other relevant standards.

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I am an overseas manufacturer looking to get my products certified to WaterSense specifications. Will there be certifying bodies in my country that can conduct the certification?

WaterSense anticipates that at least some of its licensed certifying bodies will have offices worldwide with the capability to conduct product certifications for WaterSense. Please keep in mind, however, that to be eligible for the WaterSense label, you must sell or intend to sell products in the United States that meet the relevant WaterSense specification within one year of partnership with EPA. Please contact one or more of EPA's licensed certifying bodies to determine if they certify products in your area.

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WaterSense Product Certification System

What is the product certification system and how is it different than the interim certification process?

Under the interim certification process, EPA relied on current American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited certifying bodies to certify products in accordance with their existing certification schemes. Now, under the WaterSense product certification system, EPA has specified the minimum requirements that licensed certifying bodies must follow when certifying products for WaterSense. In addition, an EPA-approved accreditation body accredits certifying bodies specifically for their capability and competence to meet these requirements. The WaterSense product certification system enables EPA to:

  • Ensure consistent application of its minimum product certification requirements.
  • Establish uniformity in the certifying body accreditation process, while making the process open to all qualified accreditation organizations.
  • Provide fully transparent criteria for product certification and the accreditation of product certifying bodies.

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How does this new product certification system affect manufacturers whose products are currently in the draft or notice of intent stage of specification development?

As new final specifications are developed for WaterSense, the certification and labeling process will occur in accordance with the final WaterSense product certification system. WaterSense will work with potential certifying bodies and accreditation bodies in advance of the release of any new final specification to ensure that there are licensed certifying bodies available to certify applicable products.

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My organization certifies products. How can I become a licensed certifying body for WaterSense?

The first step toward becoming a licensed certifying body is to seek accreditation from an EPA-approved accreditation body in accordance with the final WaterSense product certification system for one or more of the WaterSense product specifications. Upon accreditation, please contact the WaterSense Helpline for application procedures and to obtain a copy of the licensing agreement for product certifying bodies.

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My organization tests products. How can I participate in the WaterSense product certification process?

WaterSense licenses product certifying bodies, not individual testing facilities or laboratories. Certifying bodies certify products in accordance with ISO/IEC Guide 65, General requirements for bodies operating product certification systems, which includes product testing and conducting ongoing surveillance of product conformity. If your organization tests products in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025, General requirements for the competence of calibration and testing laboratories, a licensed certifying body may subcontract testing services to you as part of the product certification process. EPA is not involved in this subcontracting arrangement; it must be made between the licensed certifying body and laboratory testing facility.

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Under this new certification system, is my irrigation program eligible for certification?

The WaterSense product certification system applies only to the procedures and requirements for product certification. It does not apply to or address programs for the certification of irrigation programs or professionals. Information related to professional certification programs may be found on the WaterSense Web site under Landscape Irrigation Services.

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Under this new certification system, is my product eligible for certification and the WaterSense label?

This certification system does not impact which products are eligible for the WaterSense label; this is dictated by the release of final WaterSense product specifications for a particular product or product category. Specifications are developed after careful evaluation of technical and market factors that influence the viability of the WaterSense label for the product. For more information on the specification development process, please visit the Specification Development Process page on the WaterSense Web site. To view the product specifications that the program has released and those product categories that are currently eligible for certification and the WaterSense label, please visit the compendium of WaterSense product specifications.

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What kind of accreditation are you offering and how can I get it?

EPA does not offer accreditation. EPA does require its third-party licensed certifying bodies to be accredited to the Water Sense certification system. In order to be eligible for accreditation, your organization must be a product certifying body that meets the minimum requirements as outlined in the WaterSense product certification system. These requirements include operation in accordance with ISO/IEC Guide 65 and International Accreditation Forum (IAF) Guidance on the Application of (ISO/IEC) Guide 65 and the capability and competence to certify products in accordance with one or more of the individual WaterSense product specifications. If your organization meets these minimum requirements, please contact the WaterSense Helpline for application procedures and to obtain a copy of the licensing agreement for product certifying bodies.

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High-Efficiency Toilet (HET) Questions

How did EPA set the specification for toilets?

The specification is based on the widely accepted Uniform North American Requirements (UNAR) (PDF) (16 pp, 2.6MB, About PDF)Exit EPA Disclaimerfor toilets and EPA industry and product research, in collaboration with external stakeholders. The EPA specification sets the water use level at 1.28 gallons per flush or less, includes design requirements, and has a higher requirement for flush performance to ensure optimal user satisfaction.

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How was UNAR developed?

Uniform North American Requirements (UNAR) were developed by a collaboration of water utilities to establish a standard for toilets in rebate programs that would perform to customer expectations, save water and maintain water savings over the long term.

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What percentage of toilets currently qualify under the specification?

The most recent list of toilets in the market shows approximately 249 models. There are currently more than 100 models, or about 40 percent, that might meet the HET specification.

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How does the specification ensure that these toilets will perform as expected?

The specification includes a performance requirement. A collaboration of U.S. and Canadian water utilities developed a flush performance test protocol called the Maximum Performance (MaP) testExit EPA Disclaimerto provide a uniform measure of toilet performance. Requirements for this test protocol have been included in the HET specification.

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How will EPA verify the testing?

Products will be independently certified by a third party to confirm that the product meets EPA criteria for efficiency and performance.

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Are toilets that meet the WaterSense specification more expensive than other toilets?

No. MaP testing results have shown no correlation between price and performance. Prices for toilets can range from less than $100 to more than $1,000. Much of the variability in price is due to style, not functional design. Toilets that could potentially bear the WaterSense label are currently in the low to middle range of about $200. There is a lot of competitive pressure on manufacturers to lower prices; therefore, it can be expected that as more toilets become certified, the average price should fall.

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Will the installation of HETs lead to drainline and sewer problems due to the reduced water flows?

Since the introduction of the 1.6 gallons per flush toilet in the early 1990s, questions have been raised about whether sufficient water exists to move solid wastes in the building drainlines and in the municipal sewer system. To date, there has been no evidence to show that waste transport problems occur because of the use of the original low-flow toilets. The introduction of HETs in the late 1990s precipitated the same concerns. As a result, a collaboration of water utilities sponsored a full laboratory study to address the issue. The drainline study, completed in 2004, concluded that HETs flushing with as little as 1 gallon provide sufficient water in residential applications to move the waste from the fixtures to the sewer.

With regard to municipal sewer lines, the transport of waste has not proven to be an issue of concern in those areas with a concentration of high-efficiency toilets. Supplementary wastewater flows from other end-uses are always sufficient to move solids through the system. Furthermore, some wastewater utilities are co-funding and sponsoring the toilet replacement programs and other water efficiency initiatives of the water utilities for the very purpose of reducing sewer flows to their treatment plants.

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High-Efficiency Bathroom Sink Faucet Questions

How was the final specification for high-efficiency faucets developed?

All WaterSense specifications are developed through a market research, technical review and stakeholder input process. In developing the specification, EPA collaborated with interested parties representing industry, water utilities, and water-efficiency advocacy groups. EPA industry and product research, as well the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) A112.18.1/Canadian Standards Association (CSA) B125.1 standard for Plumbing Supply Fittings, form the basis for the WaterSense bathroom sink faucet specification.

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What are the details of the specification?

The WaterSense specification sets the maximum flow rate of faucets and aerators at 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm), tested at a flowing pressure of 60 pounds per square inch (psi, common water pressure in most households). The specification also includes a minimum flow rate of 0.8 gpm, tested at a flowing pressure of 20 psi, to ensure performance across a variety of different household conditions.

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Who will certify that products meet the specification?

All WaterSense labeled, high-efficiency bathroom sink faucets and aerators must be tested and certified by an independent, EPA-approved licensed certifying body. Manufacturers can use the WaterSense label in conjunction with faucets and aerators that are certified by licensed product certifying bodies to conform to WaterSense criteria for both performance and efficiency. Only faucets and aerators that are certified through this process can bear the WaterSense label.

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What types of products can earn the WaterSense label under this specification?

Provided the products meet the WaterSense specification, bathroom sink faucets and aerators (or other faucet accessories, such as laminar flow devices) can be certified to meet EPA criteria and labeled under this specification. This specification applies to bathroom sink faucets or aerators intended for private use, such as in residences or in private restrooms in hotels and hospitals.

Faucets that are not eligible to earn the WaterSense label under this specification include metering faucets (those that dispense a pre-determined volume of water or operate in the "on" position for a pre-determined period of time); bathroom sink faucets intended for public use (those found in office buildings, restaurants, airports, and stadium restrooms, etc.); and residential kitchen sink faucets.

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What is a faucet accessory?

A faucet accessory is a device that can be added to or removed from a bathroom sink faucet (typically, it screws onto the tip of the faucet spout).

Aerators control flow rate either through flow restriction (narrowing the opening through which the water is discharged from the faucet) or flow regulation (adapting the width of the opening through which the water is discharged from the faucet based upon fluctuations in water pressure to maintain a constant flow rate).

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Are bathroom sink faucets that meet the WaterSense specification more expensive than other bathroom sink faucets?

Consumers can purchase WaterSense labeled aerators separately from bathroom sink faucets, and can easily replace existing accessories that do not meet the WaterSense specification.

Aerators can be purchased at retail locations and typically cost only a few dollars. Most high-efficiency faucet accessories that restrict flow are no more expensive that their conventional counterparts. However, pressure compensating faucet accessories that are designed to provide and maintain a constant flow rate despite fluctuations in water pressure typically cost a few dollars more.

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If WaterSense labeled aerators are so easy to install, what would prevent their removal?

The water efficiency benefits of aerators, in addition to their low cost and relative ease of installation, outweigh the risk of their removal. Aerators typically cost no more than a few dollars, and using WaterSense labeled faucets or aerators could reduce a household's faucet water use by more than 500 gallons annually.

Additionally, performance is a major component of all WaterSense specifications. The faucet specification accounts for user satisfaction in different situations, including low water pressure, so removal should not be a major issue.

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Flushing Urinals Questions

What is the new WaterSense specification?

The new WaterSense specification applies to flushing urinals. Flushing urinals that meet the final WaterSense specification will use no more than 0.5 gallons per flush (gpf). This is one half of the 1.0 gallon per flush (gpf) federal standard for urinals set by the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Of the 12 million urinals currently in use in the United States, up to 65% are inefficient units with flush volumes exceeding the 1.0 gpf federal standard, some by as much as 3.0 gpf. On average, a urinal gets flushed about 20 times a day; therefore a business will save 4,000 gallons or more per year for every WaterSense labeled urinal it installs.

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How was the final specification for high-efficiency flushing urinals developed?

All WaterSense specifications are developed through a process that includes market research, technical review, and stakeholder input. In developing the specification, EPA collaborated with interested parties representing industry, water utilities, and water-efficiency advocacy groups. EPA industry and product research, as well nationally recognized performance standards developed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), and the American Society of Sanitary Engineering (ASSE), form the basis for the WaterSense flushing urinal specification. These standards include:

  • ASME A112.19.2/CSA B45.1 Ceramic Plumbing Fixtures
  • ASME A112.19.3/CSA B45.4 Stainless Steel Plumbing Fixtures
  • IAPMO Z124.9 Plastic Urinal Fixtures
  • ASSE #1037 Performance Requirements for Pressurized Flushing Devices (Flushometers) for Plumbing Fixtures

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What types of products can earn the WaterSense label under this specification?

All flushing urinals—meaning those that use water to convey liquid waste through a trap seal into a gravity drainage system—can earn the WaterSense label. This includes both the urinal fixture, which can be made of ceramic (vitreous china), plastic, or stainless steel, and the pressurized (flushometer valve) or gravity tank-type flushing device.

Non-water urinals, composting urinals, and retrofit devices or other aftermarket retrofit systems are not included in the scope of this specification and cannot earn the WaterSense label at this time.

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Why are non-water urinals not included in this specification?

Non-water urinals, although often very similar in appearance to flushing urinals, are different in their design, components, and functionality (i.e., how they remove waste). In addition, non-water urinals are subject to significantly different performance standards than flushing urinals. These standards are designed to ensure a high level of performance for non-water urinals, and WaterSense has no basis to propose improvements to these existing standards at this time. As a result, WaterSense has no means to help purchasers distinguish among these products based on either their efficiency or performance.

Although the specification does not apply to non-water urinals, it is not WaterSense's intention to preclude or prevent their use in water efficiency, green building, or other conservation programs. Non-water urinals continue to be compatible with and a key component of, the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and other green building programs. WaterSense encourages designers, program administrators, and facility managers to consider all available technologies when making purchasing decisions concerning water-using products, including non-water urinals. The specification and WaterSense label are simply one of many tools available to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. If decision-makers decide to specify and install water-using urinals, then WaterSense encourages them to choose products with the WaterSense label.

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What are the details of the specification?

The WaterSense specification sets the maximum flush volume for flushing urinals at 0.5 gallons per flush (gpf), when tested in accordance with national performance standards (i.e., ASME A112.19.2/CSA B45.1 [ceramic urinals], ASME A112.19.3/CSA B45.4 [stainless steel urinals], IAPMO Z124.9 [plastic urinals], ASSE #1037 [pressurized flushing devices]). The specification also includes three requirements to ensure the long-term performance and water savings of these high-efficiency devices. These are:

  • The primary actuator must be a non-hold-open design to limit the amount of water released per flush, regardless of how long the actuator is held opened.
  • The device's flush volume can be adjustable, but only to within ± 0.1 gpf of its rated flush volume. This will allow for field adjustments that may be necessary depending on building water pressure or other onsite conditions.
  • The device should be designed to prohibit the interchangeability of replaceable or maintainable parts with parts that would cause it to exceed its rated flush volume.

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Who will certify that products meet the specification?

All WaterSense labeled flushing urinals must be tested and certified by an independent, EPA-licensed certifying body. Manufacturers can use the WaterSense label to identify flushing urinal fixtures and/or flushing devices that are certified to conform to WaterSense criteria for both performance and efficiency. Only products certified through this process can bear the WaterSense label.

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If flushing devices and urinal fixtures are labeled and sold separately, how will purchasers know which components should be used together to ensure water efficiency and performance?

EPA will maintain a registry of WaterSense labeled products that are certified and labeled in accordance with the flushing urinal specification. Within this registry, EPA will provide tools that will help purchasers identify flushing devices and urinal fixtures that have the same rated flush volume in order to ensure that the complete system meets the requirements of this specification for water efficiency and performance. In addition, EPA requires manufacturers to supply similar information in their product documentation to facilitate matching of parts that, when used together, will meet the requirements of the specification.

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Are urinals that meet the WaterSense specification more expensive than other urinals?

No. Our product research has found that high-efficiency urinal fixtures and flushing devices are no more expensive than their standard (1.0 gpf) counterparts. The average price of a new high-efficiency or standard urinal fixture is about $350 and the average cost for a high-efficiency or standard pressurized flushing device (flushometer valve) is approximately $200. Because there is very little to no cost difference between high-efficiency flushing urinals and standard flushing urinals, installing high-efficiency models in new construction or as part of the natural replacement process is cost-effective with immediate payback in water cost savings.

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How much water will a WaterSense labeled flushing urinal save the average facility?

Replacing an older, inefficient 1.5 gpf flushing urinal with a 0.5 gpf WaterSense labeled flushing urinal can save as much as 4,600 gallons of water per year. This assumes that the average urinal is flushed approximately 18 times per day and is in use 260 days per year. Replacing that same older urinal with a WaterSense labeled flushing urinal with a 0.25 or 0.125 gpf flush volume could save more than 5,800 and 6,400 gallons of water per year per urinal, respectively.

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WaterSense Labeled New Homes Questions

Why label new homes?

Residential water use accounts for more than half of the publicly supplied water in the United States. With more than one million new homes now built each year in this country, EPA recognized a tremendous opportunity to promote water efficiency in the new housing sector while creating livable communities that help families save resources for the future.

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How did EPA develop the WaterSense Single-Family New Home Specification?

WaterSense spent more than three years working with hundreds of builders, utilities, trade associations, manufacturers, landscape and irrigation professionals, and certification providers to develop efficiency and performance criteria for water-efficient new homes. EPA drafted two versions of the specification for public comment, developed a certification system, and conducted dozens of meetings with key stakeholders before it finalized the specification.

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What is included in the specification?

In order to earn the label, homes must feature WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures, efficient hot water delivery systems, and yards designed with water savings in mind. If they are included with the home, clothes washers and dishwashers must be ENERGY STAR® qualified models, and irrigation systems, if incorporated, must be designed or installed and audited by WaterSense irrigation partners.

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How much will a WaterSense labeled new home save?

WaterSense labeled homes should save homeowners at least 10,000 gallons of water per year, enough to fill a backyard swimming pool. But the savings don't stop there. Because these homes also realize energy efficiency from heating less water, they save enough energy each year to power a television for four years. Combined, these savings help homeowners reduce their utility bills by at least $100 to $200 per year.

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Does a WaterSense labeled new home cost more to build/own?

As is the case with other green building certification programs, EPA estimates some additional costs to builders to ensure their new homes meet the specification. With theĀ  utility savings homeowners realize from using less energy and water, any additional costs could pay for themselves in as little as six years.

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What about the quality of WaterSense labeled new homes?

Just as products are required to be tested and certified by an independent third party before they can earn the WaterSense label, WaterSense labeled new homes must be inspected and certified by a licensed certification provider to ensure that they meet EPA's criteria for efficiency and performance. WaterSense labeled homes mean getting and doing more with less water, so you can expect all the comforts of a new home and save water.

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Why did EPA include a landscaping requirement?

On average, American homes use 30 percent of their water outdoors, but that number can be as high as 50 to 70 percent in drier regions of the country. The front yards (and back, if installed by builders) of WaterSense labeled new homes will use less water while providing curb appeal and low maintenance. EPA offers two options for builders to meet the landscaping requirement: using a "water budget" tool to determine a mix of regionally-appropriate plantings based on the climate and watering requirements of the region, or a set percentage of turfgrass, which often receives more water than a mix of local, drought-tolerant plants.

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Who can participate in the program?

Home builders and their trade associations can join as WaterSense partners and commit to building homes to the specification. Home efficiency raters can serve as inspectors, green building organizations can serve as program administrators, and certification organizations are approved to become EPA licensed certification providers.

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How will homeowners know their homes have earned the WaterSense label?

Builder partners provide homeowners of WaterSense labeled new homes with a certificate signed and dated by the inspector and the licensed certification provider indicating that the home meets EPA's criteria for efficiency and performance. Homeowners will also receive a manual from the builder that identifies all of the water-efficient features of the home, based on a template EPA provides to its builder partners.

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How can I find a WaterSense builder partner?

Builders and licensed certification providers who partner with WaterSense are listed on the Meet Our Partners page.

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Why did EPA limit the size and type of homes that can earn the label? Are homes three stories high with an underground basement eligible?

EPA limited the size of homes eligible for the WaterSense label in order to be consistent with homes built to the International Residential Code. The "three stories" limit applies to above-grade stories, so a home with three stories above ground and one story below ground would be eligible.

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What about existing homes?

While this specification is currently only for single-family new homes of three stories or less, WaterSense encourages consumers interested becoming more energy- and water-efficient to look for WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures and other efficient appliances when renovating their homes. A complete water-efficiency makeover can save a home as much as $170 per year in utility costs.

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