Codes, Standards, and Voluntary Programs for Water Efficiency
In 1992, Congress enacted the Energy Policy Act (EPAct)
and later, EPAct 2005—
both of which established maximum water consumption requirements for many
plumbing products and water-using appliances sold in the United States. Where
applicable, EPAct references relevant standards, making their compliance mandatory.
The U.S. Energy Department (DOE) is responsible for implementing and enforcing
the requirements established under EPAct.
The water-using products and appliances covered by EPAct 2005 include:
Faucets (e.g., residential lavatory, kitchen, commercial lavatory)
Residential clothes washers
Commercial clothes washers
Commercial ice makers
Pre-rinse spray valves
Codes provide the criteria necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare
related to building construction and occupancy. Codes can also be adopted into law
through regulation, making their compliance mandatory. Codes often reference stan-
dards, which provide the details for how to comply with specific requirements.
Plumbing codes are the primary code mechanism governing how water is used in
buildings. This includes provisions for supply, distribution, disposal, and water use of
specific products or equipment. There are two primary plumbing code development
organizations in the United States. IAPMO produces the
Uniform Plumbing Code
ICC produces the
International Plumbing Code
These plumbing codes have no legal
status in and of themselves, but they serve as models and, in many cases, have been
adopted into law by state and local jurisdictions.
Water-Efficiency Codes, Standards, and Voluntary Programs
Historically, standards and codes have focused primarily on protecting public health
and safety. However, in the past 20 years or so, water efficiency has emerged as a
commensurate issue that has been incorporated into codes and standards in many
places. More recently, voluntary programs have been created to specifically address
water uses and water efficiency of products and buildings to go above and beyond
federal law and the established codes and standards.
U.S. Energy Department (DOE). Energy Policy Act of 1992.