EPA WaterSense: WaterSense Partners of the Year Find Innovative Ways to Make a Difference Every Day

Oct. 23, 2015

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored the 2015 WaterSense Partners of the Year during the Water-Smart Innovations Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, NV, October 8, 2015. WaterSense also recognized four Sustained Excellence winners for their continued high level of commitment to the program.

The winners, along with thousands of other dedicated WaterSense partners, have made a difference every day across the country by creating, rebating, communicating, and educating consumers about WaterSense labeled products, homes, and programs. As a result, Americans have saved 1.1 trillion gallons of water and $21.7 billion in water and energy bills since the program began in 2006.

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The ongoing drought in California has heightened awareness of the critical role that water plays in the lives of citizens and the economy. WaterSense partners help create an ethic of water efficiency across the country and assist communities as they face water supply and infrastructure challenges.

“We are so appreciative of, and continually impressed by, our WaterSense partners’ dedication to making water efficiency a priority,” says EPA Office of Water senior policy advisor Ellen Gilinsky. “By touching lives with water-efficient products, programs, and practices on a daily basis, they’re helping improve community resilience to extreme weather conditions such as drought and providing a foundation for water conservation that will help save water for future generations.”

Following are just a few of the winners’ contributions.

Sustained Excellence Award Winners

Kohler Co.
Achieving its third consecutive honor as a WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award winner, Kohler Co. focused its 2014 eff orts on drought-aff ected areas, in part by working with Th e Home Depot to offer promotions on WaterSense labeled toilets and showerheads to consumers in California. The company also supported the Johnson Foundation’s Charting New Waters Initiative to find ways to protect the country’s water resources.

Kohler promoted WaterSense labeled toilets at more than 195 events through its Trust the Flush campaign bus tour. In addition, the company promoted WaterSense labeled products at the Green Builder Media’s VISION House in INNOVENTIONS at Walt Disney World’s Epcot in Orlando, FL, which attracted more than 200,000 visitors.

Delta Faucet Co.
Delta Faucet Co., a three-time Manufacturer Partner of the Year, earned its first WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award for its collaborative efforts to promote water efficiency and WaterSense labeled products in 2014. Delta met quarterly with major WaterSense retail partners to develop and execute strategic plans that promoted WaterSense labeled products. Delta also conducted studies with two global hotel chains to understand the best water efficiency improvements for lodging facilities.

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In 2014, Delta introduced its WaterSense labeled FlushIQ toilet, equipped with leak and overflow protection, as well as two different WaterSense labeled faucets that were recognized for their design excellence.

“Water conservation is increasingly important to consumers, but it’s important to note many are unwilling to sacrifice the quality of their daily experiences with water,” says Paul Patton, Delta Faucet Co.’s senior research and development and regulatory manager. “This consumer insight underscores Delta’s relentless need to create products that not only save water but exceed expectations.”

Delta’s HappiMess brand campaign further promoted WaterSense labeled products and received significant exposure, including a New York Times article, more than 2,700 tweets featuring the hashtag #HappiMess, and more than 90 blog posts.

KB Home
KB Home earned its first Sustained Excellence Award after receiving the Builder Partner of the Year designation for four years. The company built 96 WaterSense labeled homes in 2014, and introduced five new communities in which all homes will be designed to earn the WaterSense label. KB Home also constructed homes that feature water-efficient products that go above and beyond WaterSense criteria. The WaterSense labeled Double ZeroHouse 2.0 and 3.0 model homes in California include graywater recycling systems for toilets or landscaping, and feature WaterSense labeled and other water-efficient fixtures and appliances.

“We are always so pleased to hear from [homeowners] after they’ve lived in their home for a few weeks,” says KB Home vice president of sustainability Jacob Atalla. “We often hear, ‘We know you told us our home would be energy- and water-efficient, but this has trulyexceeded our expectations!'”

KB Home’s innovations were covered on a local television news series called “Be Waterwise Wednesdays.” The company continued to train its sales staff on WaterSense label and certification requirements and offered its contractors training on WaterSense’s indoor andoutdoor homes criteria.

The Home Depot
As a three-time Retailer Partner of the Year, The Home Depot earned its first Sustained Excellence Award for its efforts to generate awareness with 518 billion WaterSense media impressions in 2014. The Home Depot featured WaterSense and WaterSense labeled products on its website, Google, and The Weather Channel, as well as in-store promotions and product discounts.

Coinciding with Fix a Leak Week, The Home Depot launched a five-week national campaign promoting water efficiency. Various stores hosted events in collaboration with WaterSense partners to educate community members about finding and fixing leaks and provided kits with WaterSense labeled products. In partnership with AmeriCorps and the State of California, The Home Depot also gave away more than 30,000 water conservation kits to drought-affected households.

“When we were approached by the California governor’s office to help with easing the effects of the drought in the West, we knew this was an opportunity to not only provide immediate relief but also education around the water conservation commitments of WaterSense,” says Ron Jarvis, vice president of environmental innovations with The Home Depot.

Charlottesville, VA, children learn about the importance of saving water at the 2014 Virginia Discovery Museum Kid*Vention event.

Promotional Partners of the Year
City Of Charlottesville 
The City of Charlottesville, VA, undertook a variety of efforts to promote WaterSense and earn a Promotional Partner of the Year Award. The city’s popular Fix a Leak Week Family 5K race featured a “running toilet” and WaterSense t-shirt giveaway, as well as information on the city’s WaterSense labeled toilet rebate program. At the Virginia Discovery Museum’s Kid*Vention event, staff distributed kids’ activity books and other items encouraging water efficiency. The city also provided Charlottesville’s Local Energy Alliance Program home energy coaches with water conservation kits containing WaterSense labeled showerheads and leak-detection dye tablets for homeowners.

In 2014, the city created a high school “Blue Team” consisting of students who visited more than 200 homes with water conservation kits and information about WaterSense labeled product rebates.

“The City of Charlottesville’s youth are some of our largest water saving supporters . . . and the Blue Team has become [some] of our more effective water-saving advocates,” says City of Charlottesville water conservation program coordinator Jill Greiner.

Employing a number of outreach mechanisms, the city distributed 500 toilet rebates to residential and multi-family homes and surveyed consumers to evaluate awareness of the rebate program.

Kennesaw State University students educate their classmates on water efficiency alongside Flo the WaterSense “spokesgallon.”

Cobb County Water System
Four-time Promotional Partner of the Year Cobb County Water System in Georgia made a splash with all of WaterSense’s outreach campaigns in 2014. The utility recruited five hotels to participate in the H2Otel Challenge and provided them with free water audits and WaterSense promotional items, such as mirror clings and room tent cards. For the Shower Better campaign, Cobb County worked with Kennesaw State University to install 3,600 WaterSense labeled showerheads in its dorms.

“When we looked at some of our highest water-using accounts, universities were among the highest. Because they are focused on education, it makes it a natural fit to introduce a program that will both increase the students’ knowledge about water-saving products and save universities and colleges money by reducing utility costs,” says Cobb County Water System senior project manager Kathy Nguyen.

The county’s Sprinkler Spruce-Up campaign included a local television segment about water-efficient irrigation systems, and the utility had a hands-on WaterSense labeled irrigation controller demonstration in its lobby. For Fix a Leak Week 2014, Cobb County teamed up with the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District’s Water Drop Dash 5K and distributed 100 outdoor water efficiency kits to runners and attendees. Cobb County staff also worked with Niagara Conservation and Green Plumbers USA to promote WaterSense labeledtoilet and showerhead retrofits and hosted events at local Home Depot stores, distributing 6,000 free WaterSense labeled showerheads.

“Our most successful initiatives always begin and end with great partnerships, and WaterSense is one of those partners, as well as the bridge we often use to build other partnerships,” says Nguyen.

Murray City Corp.
Despite having limited resources, Murray City Corp. in Utah made a big difference as a WaterSense Promotional Partner

of the Year. Using bill stuffers, blog posts, and social media, the city’s Tap Into Murray Quality campaign promoted WaterSense labeled products throughout the community. The city supplemented its outreach with in-person resident engagement through its traveling eventbooth, visiting everything from farmers’ markets to youth sporting events to inform residents about simple steps to save water with WaterSense labeled products and water-efficient behaviors. In assessing the effectiveness of its Water Wise Kids program, the city found that 80% of children who participated have adopted water-efficient behaviors, including shorter showers.

Murray City collaborated with local plumbers and plumbing suppliers during Fix a Leak Week 2014 to promote its WaterSense labeled toilet rebate program. In addition, Murray staff hosted such a successful Fix a Leak Week booth at a local Lowe’s Home Improvement store that the retail location sold out of WaterSense labeled showerheads!

“Management and staff at Lowe’s were tremendous to work with,” says Murray City water distribution supervisor David Frandsen. “It was a mutually beneficial experience and an awesome feeling to see our customers take advantage of our WaterSense Rebate Program.”

Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas
Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas earned a Promotional Partner of the Year Award by demonstrating creativity in promoting WaterSense. Texas AgriLife reached more than 20,000 consumers during its demonstration tour with a Mobile WaterSense Home featuring labeled bathroom fixtures, and at other regional events. During Fix a Leak Week 2014, the center launched its Find It, Flag It, Fix It campaign urging homeowners to check their irrigation systems for leaks and flag areas in need of repair. Approximately 6,000 green flags with the WaterSense logo were distributed.

“Find It, Flag It, Fix It has been our most successful outreach campaign to date. We have received calls from people whose neighbors have left flags in their yards as a courtesy,” says Clint Wolfe, Program Manager at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas.

Through its participation in events, such as the State Fair of Texas, Texas AgriLife reached an additional 500,000 people with its dual-flush toilet and irrigation controller demonstrations, as well as a rainwater harvesting display. Texas AgriLife employees reached even morepeople through a series of local Sunday morning television news interviews about WaterSense labeled homes. “The ability to promote water efficiency and WaterSense to a weekly audience of more than 750,000 [television viewers] is an educator’s dream,” says Wolfe.

Texas AgriLife also collaborated with a local developer to design a new residential community that will exclusively feature WaterSense labeled properties, including 900 single-family homes and 120 townhomes.

Manufacturer Partner of the Year
The Toro Co.

Throughout 2014, The Toro Co. utilized strategic partnerships to generate awareness of WaterSense labeled products. Regional sales managers worked with water agencies in their territories to educate consumers about installing and programming weather-based irrigation controllers, as well as available rebate programs. In partnership with the Irrigation Association’s regional chapters and distributors, the company trained contractors on water-efficient best practices and the controllers that could be used to implement them.

“Water-saving innovations mean very little if the functional benefit and application of the technology is not known or realized,” says Toro marketing communications manager Alexis Bookman. “Getting the word out to those in the industry and end users about these products and how they contribute to responsible water management is critical.”

The Toro Co. promoted its WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers at 30 national and regional trade shows, expositions, and sales events reaching more than 70,000 people. The company also helped develop test criteria to support WaterSense’s draft soil-moisture based control technologies specification.

Licensed Certification Provider Partner of the Year
Energy Inspectors Corp.
A three-time Licensed Certification Provider Partner of the Year winner, Energy Inspectors Corp. continued to support the WaterSense New Homes program in 2014. The company certified 100 properties that met the WaterSense homes criteria, doubling the number of homes it has certified since 2013. It also supported 2015 Sustained Excellence Award winner KB Home in its commitment to building 10 communities exclusively with WaterSense labeled homes.

Energy Inspectors Corp. trained 11 inspectors using its hands-on approach to the WaterSense Labeled New Home Inspection Checklist on model homes. To keep everyone up to date, the company created on online training video for all of its inspectors.

Professional Certifying Organization Partner of the Year
Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership
Through its continued efforts to train and certify landscape irrigation professionals, Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership (SMSWP) in California earned the Professional Certifying Organization Partner of the Year Award for the second year in a row. In 2014, SMSWP accepted four professional certifying organizations that adopted the WaterSense labeled Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) certification program. QWEL organizations certified 200 new landscape irrigation professionals in 2014.

SMSWP updated the QWEL graywater specialty training module and held an initial training class for 23 participants in 2014. It partnered with the nonprofit organization WaterNow to reach even more plumbers and irrigation professionals with the training. SMSWP also used its new monthly QWEL North Bay Newsletter to spread the word about WaterSense trainings and other continuing education opportunities to QWEL certified professionals.

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

From Collaboration to Education, Partners Excel

Six WaterSense partners received Excellence Awards to recognize their support for a specific aspect of the program in 2014:

Excellence in Strategic Collaboration: Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) in Colorado partnered with numerous organizations to promote WaterSense, including the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. It helped students retrofit 233 dormitory toilets with WaterSense labeled models.

Excellence in Promoting WaterSense Labeled Products: Denver Water educated Colorado retailers about WaterSense labeled products and the utility’s rebate programs. Denver Water launched a WaterSense Challenge with eight multi-family buildings and helped building owners retrofit approximately 3,700 units with WaterSense labeled products.

Excellence in Education and Outreach: During Fix a Leak Week 2014, the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District hosted a Water Drop Dash 5K race and Water Festival to showcase simple ways to find and fix leaks in homes. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services tailored WaterSense materials to its residents and created the “Saving Water is in Your Future” pamphlet featuring the winner of its New Hampshire Cute Kid Photo Contest.

Excellence in Sprinkler Spruce-Up Activities: The Municipal Water District of Orange County in California supported WaterSense’s Sprinkler Spruce-Up campaign and promoted water-efficient plant choices and WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers to 700 customers at six events at local Home Depot stores and garden centers.

Excellence in Promoting the Water/Energy Nexus: In Washington state, Puget Sound Energy launched a sports-themed Energy Upgrade campaign, where fans who took public transit to a Seattle Seahawks game were given a golden ticket for free WaterSense labeled showerheads and energy-efficient appliances.

About the Author

Karen Fligger

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

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