WaterSense 2014 Partners of the Year

Nov. 7, 2014

On October 9, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored the 2014 WaterSense Partners of the Year during the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, NV. WaterSense also recognized its first two-time winner in the Sustained Excellence category and five additional partners demonstrating excellence in other areas.

The winners, along with thousands of other dedicated WaterSense partners, have helped to strengthen communities across the country by producing and promoting WaterSense labeled products, new homes, and services. As a result, Americans have saved 757 billion gallons of water and $14.2 billion in water and energy bills since the program’s inception in 2006.

“This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the ongoing efforts of dedicated partners that have consistently supported the program in a variety of different ways,” says EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Mike Shapiro.

The US Government Accountability Office recently reported that 40 out of 50 state water managers expect water shortages under average conditions in some portion of their state over the next decade. This brings home the importance of highlighting the efforts of WaterSense partners that are working to strengthen their communities by establishing a culture of water efficiency and protecting water supplies for future generations.

Sustained Excellence Award Winner
Kohler Co.
The introduction of a dual-flush trip lever in 2013 did more than just build upon Kohler’s technology track record–it increased accessibility to water efficiency. The tank-type toilet mechanism made selecting a smaller flush easier for those with dexterity challenges, so now even more consumers can choose to save water. To demonstrate the performance of WaterSense labeled products, Kohler embarked on a cross-country Trust the Flush bus tour in 2013 to showcase WaterSense labeled toilets’ proven performance at more than 185 events. A 45-foot motor coach with an on-board interactive lab featured the latest flushing technologies in four waste-removal and cleanliness tests.

The manufacturer collaborated with multiple WaterSense partners during the mobile marketing campaign. The #KohlerToiletTour Twitter hashtag, in addition to its Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest presence, contributed to the sale of millions of Kohler WaterSense labeled toilets, bathroom sink faucets, and showerheads in 2013.

The company also promoted WaterSense labeled products at several events, including the Green Builder Media’s Vision House in Innoventions at Walt Disney World’s Epcot in Orlando, FL, and the California Institute of Technology’s entry for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge for developing countries. To reinforce the company’s commitment to water efficiency internally, 280 Kohler employees became certified as LEED Green Associates.

Promotional Partners of the Year
Cobb County Water System
Despite adding approximately 100,000 new Atlanta, Georgia, metropolitan area customers in 2013, three-time Promotional Partner of the Year Cobb County Water System’s annual average daily water use decreased by 10 million gallons per day compared to 2010. The savings is in part due to the utility’s robust rebate program for WaterSense labeled toilets, which rebated more than 2,500 models in 2013 alone.

Last year, Cobb County launched a Water $aver quarterly e-newsletter and promoted WaterSense campaigns on Twitter with the #fixaleak and #showerbetter hashtags. To celebrate Fix a Leak Week 2013, the utility partnered with other regional water providers on the first annual Water Drop Dash 5-kilometer (5k) Race and Water Festival, attended by 400 runners and their families, where staff distributed WaterSense labeled faucet aerators and showerheads. The utility also leveraged WaterSmart, its joint media and communications program with Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority, to encourage even more customers to “shower better.”

Recognizing that the potential for water efficiency doesn’t stop indoors, Cobb County also worked with fellow WaterSense partners Ewing Irrigation and Rain Bird to educate local landscape professionals in honor of Sprinkler Spruce-Up. The utility worked with partners to build an operable display of WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation controllers to use at hands-on training events.

Colorado Springs Utilities
Colorado Springs Utilities also earned its second Promotional Partner of the Year award by helping home and business owners significantly reduce their water use in 2013. Last year, the utility supplied more than 7,200 WaterSense labeled product rebates and retrofits that will save an estimated 80 million gallons of water per year.

Colorado Springs Utilities launched a WaterSense New Homes Builder Incentive Program in 2013, providing local builders $750 rebates per labeled home. To recruit participants, staff met with builders to introduce the rebate program, connect them with licensed certification providers, and explain how builders, buyers, and sellers can find WaterSense labeled products using the Multiple Listings Service Green Features Addendum. The utility also collaborated with the Colorado Springs Home Builders Association’s 2013 Parade of Homes to showcase models using WaterSense labeled products.

The utility’s Conservation and Environmental Center displayed fully functioning WaterSense labeled products; a savings comparison between labeled products and less efficient fixtures; and facts about the water, energy, and cost savings achieved with WaterSense labeled products.

Kohler Co. hit the road to drive demand for WaterSense labeled toilets during its 2013 Trust the Flush bus tour that stopped at nearly 200 events nationwide.

Manufacturer Partners of the Year
Delta Faucet Co. (Large Manufacturer)
As a three-time Manufacturer Partner of the Year, Delta Faucet Company continued its commitment to WaterSense in 2013 through in-person and online promotions. Between Delta’s online faucet video gallery and its Brizio brand website, more than 20 videos featuring WaterSense labeled products collectively received more than 38,000 views. The company also promoted WaterSense labeled products through its continued HGTV’s Dream Home Sweepstakes sponsorship and donated WaterSense labeled products to 28 St. Jude Dream Home properties visited by more than 80,000 people in 2013.

To address water efficiency beyond the residential sector, Delta continued to work with the Hospitality Sustainability Purchasing Consortium to ensure that its sustainability performance standards aligned with WaterSense specifications for applicable product categories. The consortium’s Web-based purchasing database researches, measures, and reports on suppliers’ corporate social responsibility, environmental impact, and product sustainability performance. Delta also promoted the benefits of WaterSense labeled bathroom faucets and showerheads to many multi-family builders and developers in 2013 to reach this growing market segment.

HydroPoint Data Systems
(Small Manufacturer)
This is HydroPoint Data Systems’ first-ever WaterSense Partner of the Year award, earned in part for its product and water management innovation. Last year, the company enhanced its WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers with computer-generated climate models delivering daily local weather data that better calculate and deliver the exact amount of water a specific landscape should receive. To help customers sustain their savings, HydroPoint released a Water Budget Manager tool that allows users to see, track, and report a landscape’s water consumption and water bills. The manufacturer also introduced a tool to give landscape irrigation professionals the ability to identify leaks or mainline breaks before they worsen.

To enhance its efforts to make water-efficient products more affordable, HydroPoint continuously collaborated with local water agencies and municipalities to establish and promote more than 200 rebate programs through its website. The manufacturer strongly encouraged these agencies to only rebate WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers. As an effort to build upon its outreach activities, the company highlighted WaterSense and labeled irrigation controllers in more than 40 marketing campaigns, 10 press releases, and several conferences and trade events in 2013. Appearances included the International Council of Shopping Centers, and the National Apartment Association’s Green conference.

Retailer Partner of the Year
The Home Depot
The Home Depot, three-time WaterSense Retailer Partner of the Year, worked extensively with water utilities across the country to support rebate programs for WaterSense labeled toilets, showerheads, and irrigation controllers. This helped consumers achieve more than $36 million in product markdowns–a 9% increase compared to 2012. What’s more, the company’s online and in-store product inventory increased by 36%, including products sold through YourOtherWarehouse.com, an online plumbing supply warehouse featuring more than 2,500 WaterSense labeled models. To help plumbers and contractors easily educate their customers about WaterSense labeled products, The Home Depot launched a Pro Mobile Web application that puts WaterSense at their fingertips.

Staff also collaborated with other WaterSense partners to promote program campaigns. For Fix a Leak Week 2013, the Atlanta-based retailer joined forces with the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District to co-sponsor the utility’s inaugural Water Drop Dash 5k. To promote water savings beyond fixing leaks, The Home Depot adapted WaterSense’s “Dreaming of a Better Bathroom” messaging to launch two independent campaigns encouraging customers to build a “better” bathroom with WaterSense labeled products. Campaign workshops attracted at least 160,000 attendees.

Builder Partner of the Year
KB Home
KB Home’s consistent commitment to building water-efficient, sustainable communities across the country earned the builder its fourth consecutive WaterSense Builder Partner of the Year award. Last year, the builder broke new ground in San Marcos, CA, where it built the city’s first WaterSense labeled new home using its ZeroHouse 2.0 model. With the help of WaterSense labeled products, the home’s design achieves net-zero energy use and the highest levels of resource efficiency. KB Home took the water efficient model a step further in 2013 when it introduced the Double ZeroHouse 2.0 concept. When fully constructed this year, a Double ZeroHouse 2.0 home will include pre-plumbing for graywater recycling systems, water and energy efficient dishwashers, and solar thermal water heaters.

KB Home worked to support the construction of more water efficient communities by implementing extensive training initiatives in 2013 to educate its employees about WaterSense labeled products and new homes. Sales counselors and inspectors learned how to communicate the benefits of WaterSense labeled products to home buyers. Landscape contractors and irrigation installers who work on KB Homes are also required to review and implement water-efficient practices from KB Home’s landscaping guide.

Professional Certifying Organization Partners of Year
Irrigation Association
From its WaterSense specification development support to its certified irrigation professional recruitment efforts, two-time WaterSense Professional Certifying Organization Partner of the Year the Irrigation Association (IA) showed no signs of slowing down in 2013. The organization submitted testing protocols to WaterSense for its weather-based irrigation controller and soil-moisture based control technology specifications. Staff engaged irrigation professionals and contractors about WaterSense and the benefits of WaterSense labeled certification through educational sessions at IA’s annual Irrigation Show.

IA also launched a Hire Certified campaign to encourage consumers to select certified professionals to ensure optimal outdoor water savings. Staff cross-promoted Sprinkler Spruce-Up and its Smart Irrigation Month campaign to more than 14,000 contacts through a mass-email effort.

Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership
WaterSense Professional Certifying Organization Partner of the Year Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership (SMSWP) represents nearly a dozen California water utilities that promote outdoor water efficiency. Its WaterSense labeled Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) program is available for free to any professional certifying organization provided it becomes a WaterSense partner. SMSWP’s QWEL program recruited one new professional certifying organization in 2013. Including SMSWP, 10 professional certifying organizations are now providing QWEL certifications. Together, they certified nearly 200 irrigation professionals in 2013 alone, bringing the total number of certified professionals to 837.

The organization overhauled the QWEL website to prominently feature WaterSense, and it also promoted its new Spanish-language QWEL at 24 community events and through live and prerecorded radio interviews which aired on three local radio stations. SMSWP’s print, radio, e-mail, and online outreach also focused on its 20-Gallon Challenge. This campaign encouraged both consumers and landscape professionals to reduce their water use by 20 gallons per person per day.

Licensed Certification Provider Partner of the Year
Energy Inspectors Corp.
Two-time WaterSense Licensed Certification Provider Partner of the Year Energy Inspectors Corporation inspected 51 KB Home WaterSense labeled new homes in 2013. The two Partners of the Year also collaborated to educate homeowners about the water- and energy-saving benefits of WaterSense labeled models. Building on this success, Energy Inspectors Corporation and KB Home solidified plans to construct and inspect 541 additional WaterSense labeled new homes this year.

To prepare inspectors, it continued its hands-on training process in 2013. Trainees perform a full inspection on a model home to ensure that it meets the WaterSense new homes criteria for water efficiency and performance indoors and out. Eleven new inspectors were trained last year. The company also began developing a training video for new inspectors and existing inspectors looking to refresh their WaterSense knowledge.

For more information about the WaterSense Partner of the Year awards, and to learn about becoming a partner, please visit www.epa.gov/watersense.

About the Author

Karen Fligger

Karen Fligger is an Environmental Protection Specialist at the US Environmental Protection Agency WaterSense program.

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