What is the WaterSense Label and How Does it Apply?

Green Building Team on December 28, 2018

The Water Efficiency prerequisite for Indoor Water Use Reduction requires that “all newly installed toilets, urinals, private lavatory faucets, and showerheads that are eligible for labeling must be WaterSense labeled”. This requirement is in alignment across Building Design and Construction, Interior Design and Construction, Operations and Maintenance, and Neighborhood Development rating systems. However, to clarify, projects are not required to source all fixtures and fittings with a WaterSense label. The label only applies to newly installed tank-type toilets, water-using urinals, private lavatory faucets and showerheads. Fixture types that were not labeled by WaterSense when LEED v4 was released, such as tankless toilets, waterless urinals, and public lavatory faucets, must only comply with the aggregate percentage reduction criteria of the prerequisite. This direction is in the LEED v4 BD+C Reference Guide, under WEp Indoor Water Use Reduction, Step-by-Step Guidance.

The WaterSense label is available in Canada and focuses on ready-for-market products. Products, under the WaterSense label, meet US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) specifications for water efficiency and performance, and are verified by independent, third–party certification. WaterSense ensures that not only do the products meet efficiency measures, but includes additional performance indicators. For example, showerheads must meet criteria for water coverage and spray intensity while still meeting the required water flows. WaterSense also goes beyond water efficiency and performance, taking into consideration environmental and economic impacts; this includes determining if there are any unintended impacts that could be caused by anticipated specification requirements.

The requirements for toilets/water closets appear to be a source of confusion. When LEED v4 was released, only tank-type toilets (known as “residential toilets” by WaterSense) had a WaterSense label. Tankless toilets, often referred to as flushometer toilets, flush value toilets, or as “commercial toilets” by WaterSense, did not have a label at that time; therefore, as per the LEED v4 BD+C Reference Guide, tankless toilets are not required to meet the WaterSense label requirements under LEED v4. While a WaterSense label is now available for these tankless toilets, project teams are encouraged, but not required, to review WaterSense product selection to increase the performance and efficiency of their water using fixtures.

The WaterSense requirement for tank-type toilets is that they must use no more than 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf) (4.8 Litres per flush (lpf)) as well as meeting a minimum flush performance test. For dual-flush tank-type toilets, they are still required to meet this threshold, but it is the result of an average of two reduced flushes and one full flush.