Water usage is a looming issue throughout the United States. Home water use accounts for more than half of all publicly supplied water in the nation. It's time to start reducing water usage in new homes, and the EPA is developing a program that will help home builders do just that.

The WaterSense New Homes specification will guide builders in creating homes that use 20% less water than standard new homes, while providing a high level of performance. WaterSense New Homes is an expansion of the EPA's WaterSense program, which labels water-efficient products and fixtures in much the same way the Energy Star program labels energy-efficient products. To be certified under WaterSense, new homes must incorporate WaterSense-labeled fixtures, hot water distribution systems, and pressure regulator valves, among other water-efficient practices, and address outdoor water use. Homeowner education and third-party verification also will be required.

Currently in draft and review stages, the EPA plans to complete the WaterSense New Homes specification by 2009. Builders are invited to peruse the draft Water-Efficient Single-Family New Home Specification and submit feedback to the EPA. The public comment period is open until July 21. Download a PDF of the draft specification on the EPA's WaterSense New Homes Web site or here.

This article orginally appeared on Custom Home Online