A row of shower stalls in a locker room.

GreenNY Specification: Showerheads


To reduce the amount of water used per minute of shower time without depleting the comfort and effectiveness of the water flow.

  • Showerheads replaced in regular maintenance schedules shall be upgraded to low flow units certified by WaterSense® with a maximum flow of 2.0 gpm.
  • Entities are encouraged to replace all existing showerheads with showerheads with flows as low as 1.5 gpm.



The use of low flow showerheads minimizes the amount of potable water used which helps conserve water. A very small percentage of the total water on the planet is suitable for human consumption. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 mandated the use of water-conserving plumbing fixtures to reduce water use in residential, commercial, and institutional buildings. WaterSense® certified showerheads are more efficient than the federal requirements. Using water efficiently can reduce costs through lower water use fees, lower sewage volumes to treat (with associated chemicals), and lower capacity charges. Of course, energy is also saved by heating less water. Switching to low flow showerheads can save 20-40% of the water used for showering.



gpm is gallons per minute.

Low flow showerheads certified by WaterSense are showerheads that flow 2.0 gpm (gallons per minute) or less. Current technology has allowed manufacturers to design showerheads with good cleansing capability using flows as low as 1.5 gpm.

Standard showerheads meeting the International Plumbing Code (IPC), which governs New York State work, are allowed a maximum psi of 80 and a maximum flow of 2.5 gpm.

Potable water is water which is suitable for human consumption.

ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act. Compliance with the act requires conformance to International Code Council (ICC) Standard A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities.

Showerhead includes both fixed and hand-held showerheads. Fixed showerheads direct water onto a user for bathing purposes and hand-held showers are moveable devices for directing water onto a user.


Standard Setting and Certifying Programs

Various national and international standards apply to low flow showerheads. They are defined here as a guide.

LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

WaterSense® is a partnership program sponsored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. WaterSense provides water efficiency and performance criteria for products and helps consumers identify water-efficient products and programs that meet WaterSense® criteria. For additional information on WaterSense®, visit the website at http://www.epa.gov/watersense/.



In addition to meeting all federal and state laws, codes, rules, and regulations, any installation of new showerheads shall provide the following:

  • WaterSense® certification (flow of not more than 2.0 gpm).
  • Impact and vandal resistant materials of construction.
  • Compliance with ADA requirements.

Affected entities are encouraged to:

  • Replace all standard showerheads with low flow showerheads in accordance with facility’s planned maintenance schedule.
  • Provide WaterSense® certified showerheads with low flow less than 2.0 gpm.
  • Provide showerheads with ability to effectively cleanse a person per facility’s needs.
  • It is recommended that facility call for testing in-place of several shower head options.
  • Provide signage that explains the features that add to the desirability of use.
  • Provide routine inspection (recommended quarterly) as well as cleaning and servicing per manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Reduce the State’s carbon footprint by procuring local, regional or national products. For projects registered with a LEED rating system, some contribution to achievement of credits may be realized in purchasing units that are manufactured within 500 miles of the project site.

Packaging shall comply with Environmental Conservation Law section 37-0205. Packaging shall not contain inks, dyes, pigments, adhesives, stabilizers, or any other additives to which any lead, cadmium, mercury, or hexavalent chromium is intentionally added or contain incidental concentrations of lead, cadmium, mercury or hexavalent chromium which together are greater than 100 parts per million by weight (0.01%). 

New York State encourages affected entities to adopt the following in order of preference when purchasing items that come in packaging: 

  • Items that do not need packaging, or the packaging is part of the product. 
  • Items that come in reusable packaging. 
  • Items that come in bulk packaging. 
  • Items that come in innovative packaging that reduces the amount of packaging. 
  • Items that come in packaging that remains the property of the supplier and does not become the property of the end user under any circumstance or condition. The vendor shall certify that the packaging material will be reused, recycled, or composted, and managed in compliance with applicable local, state, and federal laws. 
  • Items that come in packaging that maximizes recycled or biodegradable (compostable) content and/or meets or exceeds the minimum post-consumer content level for packaging in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. Biodegradable products should only be used in areas where a composting facility exists that accept the material. 
  • Items that come in Packaging that is recyclable or biodegradable (compostable). Biodegradable products should only be used in areas where a composting facility exists and will accept the material.