For the 11th year in a row, KB Home has been recognized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its commitment to building water efficient homes. This year, the builder was one of nine winners who received the WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award, the highest level of recognition from the EPA’s WaterSense program.
To learn more about KB Home’s water conservation efforts in single-family homes, BUILDER spoke with Dan Bridleman, senior vice president of sustainability, technology and strategic sourcing at KB Home . He gave a bit of history on how the builder has approached water conservation in the past, over the past 11 years, and their plans for the future.
BUILDER: How does KB Home approach water conservation in single family homes?
Brideman: Water conservation is an imperative part of our sustainability efforts and remains a top priority for the company. As a home builder, we have worked hard to reduce water consumption on our construction sites and in our homes. We understand that we need to conserve this precious natural resource and in doing so we can also help our homeowners save money on their utility bills.
KB Home has been an industry leader in raising the conversation on the water. We integrate high efficiency water products into our homes and were the first builder to participate in the EPA’s WaterSense program. We also helped expand the WaterSense Labeled Homes program, version 2.0, released in February 2021, which requires homes to be at least 30% more water efficient than a typical new home. As an industry leader, we continue to push the boundaries of how we can conserve water.
MANUFACTURER: KB has just been recognized by the EPA for the 11th consecutive year. How did the company approach water conservation in the beginning and how has it changed?
Brideman: We first partnered with EPA over a decade ago. At that time, building with WaterSense-labeled plumbing products was not common. We started by leveraging our relationships and business partners to create change in the industry. We have been able to use our strong supplier relationships to make these products available in all divisions at cost effective prices. In turn, the EPA was able to show how a builder like KB Home was able to achieve these results, which was a great example for the industry.
Today, KB Home continues to champion the important role EPA’s WaterSense program plays in helping both lower monthly utility costs for its buyers and minimize their carbon footprint and energy consumption. To date, KB Home has built over 17,000 WaterSense-labeled and smart watered homes and installed over 800,000 WaterSense-labeled lights, saving approximately 1.6 billion gallons of water per year. These efforts add up. For example, in a recent pilot program in Las Vegas, the EPA found that, on average, KB Home’s WaterSense-labeled homes used only 41,000 gallons of water per year, compared to 100,000 gallons or more used by KB Home. the typical houses of the region.
BUILDER: What are the main areas of interest in a home for water conservation? How does the EPA measure water efficiency?
Brideman: We are focused on building new homes that are water efficient inside and out. This includes installing WaterSense-labeled plumbing fixtures like faucets, showerheads and toilets inside and drought-resistant and water-efficient landscaping on the outside. We believe that our approach requires equal attention, because in some climatic zones the water used outside the house may be used more than inside.
KB Home became the first builder to certify homes using EPA’s new WaterSense Labeled Homes program, version 2.0, and RESNET’s HERSH2O water classification system. The program has been piloted in the Las Vegas area, and preliminary field data collected by the EPA confirms that homeowners are seeing significant savings.
The beauty of these types of rating systems is twofold: they give us the flexibility on how we can achieve efficiency while also giving homebuyers the ability to rate their home’s water efficiency. with numbers that make sense to them, which means savings on their utility bills.
MANUFACTURER: What products are supplied as standard in a KB home to help reduce water consumption?
- Energy Star certified dishwashers, which save water and energy;
- WaterSense labeled faucets, shower heads and toilets, which conserve water without sacrificing performance; and
- Water-saving landscaping.
BUILDER: What’s the biggest challenge for water conservation in homes?
Brideman: Nowadays, water conservation is not as much of a challenge as when we started building water efficient houses. The EPA handled the device labeling process very carefully and today water efficient devices are readily available that make it easy for our customers to achieve water savings without sacrificing convenience or performance. .
Additionally, as water prices have increased dramatically over the past 10 years, the cost of WaterSense-labeled devices has reached affordable levels through increased production levels. Going forward, many established communities will need to increase their water and sewer rates in order to generate enough revenue to repair or replace aging infrastructure. Similar to energy efficiency, building homes with WaterSense-labeled devices and other water-efficient features is a tool for us to create long-term affordability and help keep household utility bills down. manageable.
MANUFACTURER: What advice would you give to other builders who wish to incorporate water saving methods?
Brideman: Water conservation methods should not be a secondary priority. Work with the EPA and plan to save water in your homes from the start of any project.