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Roseville homes mark national watershed in conservation

Local KB development is first to meet new EPA water standards
By: Lien Hoang, The Press Tribune
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You might not think about the one or two minutes spent waiting for shower water to warm up. But KB Home does, and it’s working to eliminate that and other water waste in new homes. Last week in Roseville, KB completed four model homes, the first endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense. Launched in 2006, the voluntary EPA program does for water what Energy Star does for, well, energy. WaterSense has been stamping its approval on toilets, showerheads and faucets since 2007. Now combining those products, houses must reduce water usage by 20 percent to earn the WaterSense label. “The label for new homes is kind of a way to bring the package together on a residential level,” said Alicia Marrs, marketing and outreach coordinator for WaterSense homes. Speaking from Washington, D.C., Marrs noted the City of Roseville has been particularly active in conserving water. Each of the 118 upcoming Springwood houses near Fiddyment Road north of Blue Oaks Boulevard will meet WaterSense standards, according to KB. One way to do this is to use an on-demand hot water system. Rather than turn a nozzle and leave water running as it warms, consumers have two choices: Set a timer so the system knows when to prepare hot water regularly, or press a button to circulate and heat water before it starts flowing. Both options hold water until warm enough for use and reduce wait time, which can add up. “Unfortunately, a lot of people who know they have to wait turn on the water and walk away, and that 1.5 minutes can turn into five minutes,” said Lisa Brown, the city’s water conservation administrator. She said Roseville has started to require either the timer or button in recent years. The EPA estimates that each year, these measures will save 10,000 gallons of water inside each home. KB houses include Energy Star dishwashers and toilets that use less water. Outside, KB has installed a drip system that feeds directly into plants, rather than the wasteful spraying of traditional sprinklers. It also has deposited less turf and plants that require less moisture. In addition, a timer similar to the one indoors can be programmed to distribute water on a set schedule, adjusted to suit weather conditions. “It takes the guesswork out of how long and how often to irrigate,” Brown said. While interior fixtures automatically reduce water and energy bills, landscaping costs are harder to predict, particularly in the early stages of new ownership. Those are some of the kinks still to be worked out through trial and error. “This is a learning process for everyone,” said KB corporate communications director Craig LeMessurier. He would not release the cost of upgrading houses to meet WaterSense criteria. LeMessurier said KB would absorb those expenses rather than pass them on to owners of the new houses, which begin at $259,000. Marrs said KB’s example could expand to other home developers. “We’re looking to nudge the market in the right direction,” she said. Lien Hoang can be reached at lienh@goldcountrymedia.com.