Request for Comments to Support EPA WaterSense Notification of Intent
On October 25, the EPA WaterSense office released a notification of intent announcing proposed changes to the single-family new home specification — including the proposed removal of the 40 percent turfgrass restriction as an option for landscape design. To view the full notification of intent, visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense/docs/NH_modification_NOI-final_508.pdf.
We have worked for years, gathering comments from the industry and making calls on Congress, to have this specification removed. Of course, we support this decision and look forward to working with other interested associations and groups to improve the remaining Water Budget Tool.
Here’s your chance to do something, right now, to help further the cause. The notification of intent is currently open for public comment until December 21, 2011. Below, you will find suggested responses to the WaterSense questions related to landscape design. We urge all members to submit comments to the EPA regarding the proposed changes to the WaterSense single-family, new home specification to email@example.com by December 21. For more information, contact Tom Delaney, or call the PLANET office at (800) 395-2522.
WaterSense Questions/Suggested Responses
WaterSense QuestionWhich products or criteria mentioned here or in the specification differ substantially between single-family and multi-family dwellings?
Suggested Response: Landscape design of a multifamily dwelling, unlike single-family homes, is usually performed (and sometimes required to be performed) by a landscape designer or landscape architect.
The installation of a multifamily dwelling, unlike single-family homes, is usually performed (and sometimes required to be performed) by a landscape contractor.
The multifamily dwelling specification should take these factors into account, as landscape design and installation are performed differently for a single-family new home landscape design/build/installation process.
WaterSense Question: Is the Water Budget Tool sufficient as the sole option for meeting the landscape design criteria?
The use of water budgets has proven to be a very successful management tool when determining the water-use requirements of a landscape; taking into account local data such as rainfall, ET, and other locally derived climatologic factors.
Landscape design based on the WaterSense Water Budget Tool allows local landscape experts to design a landscape using climate appropriate plantings that creatively meets the needs of the family living in the home and the neighborhood, thus enhancing its marketability.
Builders, landscape design professionals, irrigation professionals, and property owners will all benefit from the appropriate use of the Water Budget Tool’s single-family new home specification to provide a water-efficient outdoor environment over a one-size-fits-all approach.
Having a single option of using the Water Budget Tool facilitates training of builders and irrigation professionals, minimizing confusion when multiple options are presented.
WaterSense Question: Do you have any suggestions on how we could make the online Water Budget Tool more user-friendly?
Suggested Response: The beta version of the Water Budget Tool works nicely and is less intimidating than the Excel spreadsheet. Suggested improvements regarding the irrigation options are as follows:
For turfgrass irrigation: Fixed spray; rotor (needs to be added as a choice); drip (pressure compensating), which would allow for the use of subsurface drip irrigation if chosen, and micro-irrigation, which includes micro-sprays, micro-bubblers, micro-streams, and standard drip which non-pressure compensating, etc.; and no irrigation. Very little “drip” irrigation used in landscape applications is not pressure compensating, and the difference in water requirement between drip (standard) and micro sprays is exactly the same. Fewer categories that are unique would make it more relevant to the marketplace and easier to choose an irrigation method.
For the other plantings: Irrigation choices for other plantings, such as trees, shrubs, ground covers, etc., could likewise be simplified to drip (pressure compensating) and micro-irrigation, as described above, and no irrigation. In addition, it would be nice to have a simple “drop-down” explanation or description of the irrigation terms for those not familiar with the industry’s terminology.
WaterSense Question: Is a simple option similar to Option 2 still required? If so, what should it be?
Suggested Response: Appropriate landscape and irrigation design and installation are complex and should be treated as such. Just trying an easy approach is not an appropriate solution to something that is as important as landscape plant-material choice and irrigation design and installation.
The Water Budget Tool is a user-friendly way to afford builders and landscape design professionals the opportunity to determine appropriate landscape plant material, based on local variables.
WaterSense Question: What parties are typically responsible for landscape design for multifamily buildings? What are the standard practices?
Suggested Response: Unlike single-family new homes, multifamily buildings use and/or require a professionally designed and installed landscape by either a landscape designer or landscape architect and a landscape contractor.
The use of the Water Budget Tool is appropriate for both single-family homes and multifamily units.