I’ve always wondered if the EPA’s EnergyStar for Homes program was a bit lonely and in need of some official company to truly help homeowners achieve full green home-dom. Well, it appears that that company has arrived with WaterSense labeling for new homes, a partnership program that zeroes in on the water efficiency of newly built residences. Now, like EnergyStar, the WaterSense label will not only be applied to certain products (showerheads, faucets, toilets, and the like) but to entire homes as well.

According to the EPA, a new home that’s built under the auspices of the WaterSense label uses 20 percent less water than other new homes and can save owners up to 10,000 gallons of water and $100 on utility costs annually through the use of WaterSense-branded plumbing fixtures, water-efficient landscape design and irrigation, efficient hot water distribution systems, and other water-wise elements.

New WaterSense labeled homes will also include EnergyStar dishwashers and washing machines if those appliances are included when the home is built.

Although the EPA launched the WaterSense for New Homes Pilot Program back in 2008, it wasn’t until last week that the first WaterSense labeled homes in the country were branded as so in Roseville, Calif.’s Springwood community through a partnership program with big-time builder KB Home.

Now that the first four model homes are complete, KB Home plans on building every home in Springwood to WaterSense standards. KB will eventually build three more water-efficient communities across the country.

Given that home water efficiency efforts often take a backseat to home energy efficiency efforts, it’s good to see a home water certification system for homes up and running. However, I’m guessing that if homeowners had to choose between either a new EnergyStar or WaterSense home, they’d choose the latter. It should be noted that WaterSense-labeled new homes are meant to work with other green building programs like EnergyStar and LEED, so you don’t necessarily have to choose between one or the other.

And here’s a staggering figure: if all 500,000 new homes built in the U.S. last year had been built to meet WaterSense criteria, those homes would collectively have saved 5 billion gallons of water and more than $50 million in utility bills annually.

Entire water-efficient homes and communities aside, have you purchased any WaterSense-branded products like faucets, toilets or showerheads?

Also on MNN: Three tips for tracking home water usage

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

New program for homeowners focuses on water conservation
Four new homes in Roseville, Calif., earn official WaterSense labeling as part of a program that's similar to EnergyStar but focuses on home water conservation