Santa Fe Aims to Put Water Efficiency into Building Codes

The City of Santa Fe is nearing the finish line on the road to become the first municipality in the nation to integrate a performance-based water efficiency requirement in its building code.

Santa Fe’s proposed bill that would adopt the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS) is part of a larger update to the City’s residential green building code. “Santa Fe area home builders recognized years ago that our community’s future growth was tied to the water supply,” says Kim Shanahan, Executive Officer of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association. “If we can’t stretch our limited supply of water, we can’t continue to grow and the building industry would suffer.”

For the past year, these changes have been reviewed and discussed at multiple public hearings. The Sustainable Santa Fe Commission was the first to approve the residential green building code updates, followed by the Planning Commission, the Public Works Committee, the Water Conservation Committee, the Finance Committee and the Public Utilities Committee.

The City Council is set to hold another public hearing on October 26. The Council is expected to make a final decision in early November.

“Santa Fe is taking an unprecedented step in adopting a performance-based requirement, and should be commended for it,” says Green Builder Coalition Executive Director Mike Collignon. “By going with a performance-based approach instead of a prescriptive requirement, Santa Fe is giving its design/build community greater design and product flexibility than any other city in the country.”

Read this article on how builders, particularly in Santa Fe, are designing innovative water-saving solutions. 

View the bill here.