Florida Water Star
Page Top Rounded Corners

Florida Water Star certification process

Certification process

A certified Florida Water Star home

These are the proud owners of a certified Florida Water Star home.

Achieving program certification requires the coordination of multiple stakeholders. This manual provides a detailed description of the structure of the Florida Water Star inspection and certification process, and the responsibilities of all stakeholders. The following table shows the roles of stakeholders.

Florida Water Star Stakeholder Roles and Responsible Entities





Florida Water Star program maintenance

St. Johns River Water
Management District


Project application review, inspection, final certification decision

Triconic, LLC


Meets all applicable certification criteria

Builder, developer, homeowner


Application documentation review, project inspection, verification of compliance with Florida Water Star criteria, and coordination with the administrator regarding final certification decision

Florida Water Star inspector

Accredited Professional

Design and installation of Florida Water Star landscape or irrigation system

Landscape or irrigation professional who has voluntarily attended training and passed an Accredited Professional Exam

Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)

Interprets innovation points, variances, and criteria changes

Members chosen by agency

Stakeholder role summary


Applicants are typically the builders, developers or homeowners seeking certification of their project(s). They are responsible for ensuring that their projects meet all relevant Florida Water Star criteria. The applicant must abide by the Portal conditions.


Inspectors must be Florida Water Star-accredited, which requires the completion of mandatory training, an apprenticeship and a successful score on a comprehensive exam of the Florida Water Star program. The inspector's primary responsibility is to verify that the project meets all relevant Florida Water Star criteria, through review of project documentation submitted by the applicant and an on-site inspection of the project. The inspector only submits projects that meet minimum criteria for certification.


As of Feb. 1, 2018, Florida Water Star is part of the FHBA Certified Ratings Program administered by Triconic LLC. As the administrator, all Florida Water Star projects are now being processed through their Portal.

Triconic works behind the scenes to provide the certification infrastructure for the Florida Water Star program. Their team of professionals is taking Florida Water Star to the next level as it expands. For more information, please click here.


The certifier partners, UL (Underwriters Laboratories and Intertek, provide third-party quality assurance. Participants can choose to work with one or both of these internationally recognized leaders in the industry.

The certifier (UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and/or Intertek) reviews the details of the project to ensure applicable Florida Water Star criteria are met, and, if so, issues final certification. The applicant then receives a Florida Water Star certificate from UL or Intertek through the Triconic Portal.


The agency, which is the St. Johns River Water Management District, owns all rights to the Florida Water Star program content. The St. Johns District is responsible for evaluating program effectiveness, modifying program content for improvement, and developing all training and technical materials.

Accredited Professionals

Accredited professionals (APs) are landscape or irrigation professionals who have chosen to attend training, take and pass an exam administered by the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association. APs are qualified to design or install a landscape or irrigation system for a Florida Water Star project. Although not required, working with an AP can increase an applicant’s ability to achieve certification.

Technical Advisory Committee

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is responsible for providing technical interpretation of criteria, innovation credits, variances, and other issues on a case-by-case basis, as necessary. The agency will initiate TAC review, as needed, and will use the TAC’s recommendations to make a final determination of course of action.

Three forms of certification

Florida Water Star certification can be achieved for any of three types of development/construction (see the following chart).

Types of Florida Water Star Certification




  • Certification of new or existing residences in two tiers — Silver or Gold.
  • Criteria are met, and points are achieved for Gold certification.


  • Certification of new or existing commercial facilities.
  • All requirements are prescriptive, and no points are involved.


  • Certification of a planned community.
  • All residences are certified as Florida Water Star Residential.
  • All common areas must meet Commercial/Institutional requirements.

Certification can be sought for new and existing structures. (Note: Residential Florida Water Star certification also requires achieving minimum points for Gold, in addition to meeting the criteria.)

A separate document, the Technical Manual, provides clarification and direction on the Florida Water Star program criteria, including the intention and technical details for all program criteria.


Applicant responsibilities

Florida Water Star builder/applicant

A Florida Water Star builder displays a plaque awarded after this property received certification.

Role of applicant

The applicant is responsible for meeting the requirements of the applicable Florida Water Star certification. These requirements include the following:

  • Providing information and documentation necessary for verification of criteria for certification
  • Cooperation in the inspection process of structures submitted for certification
  • Commitment to the applicable program criteria by adhering to your company’s quality control procedures (in accordance with ISO 17020).

For residential projects, the applicant must designate a Florida Water Star inspector for the project. This selection should occur as early as feasible in the landscape design process to help minimize problems during the certification. A list of active inspectors is available on this website. The following must be submitted to the inspector, who shall be responsible for their electronic submission to the program administrator.

Supporting Florida Water Star certificate documentation must be submitted to the inspector, who shall be responsible for maintaining records in accordance to ISO 17020 and subsequent applicable submission to the certifier through the Triconic Portal.

a. Applicant shall submit the final Certificate of Occupancy (CO) to confirm requirements and/or compliance with state, county and municipal codes prior to final inspection.

b. If there is prior verification that a requirement is not applicable in the local jurisdiction of the proposed structure, the inspector shall be permitted to waive that requirement.

c. It is acceptable for the inspector to waive the CO requirement if Florida Water Star certification is required prior to issuance of a CO. For instance, Toho Water Authority requires that the Florida Water Star certification be submitted prior to issuance of the final CO.

a. Applicant shall submit drawings to the inspector that include the irrigation and landscape details. Electronic documents are preferred.

b. Drawings shall be clearly readable and to scale. Drawings must include a date, legend, scale and direction marker.

Landscape submission shall include the following information:

  1. Scientific and common name of species
  2. Total plants for each species
  3. Square feet and type of turf grass
  4. Square feet of total landscaped area
  5. Square feet of each planting area/bed
  6. Narrative or graphic representation to describe the shade or sun and soil conditions of the site

Irrigation submission shall include the following information:

  1. Layout information
  2. a. Pipe location, type and size

    b. Sprinkler head location, including spacing to adjacent sprinkler heads and structures

    c. Location of soil moisture sensor probe, when applicable

    d. Location and area of irrigation zones

  3. Component information
  4. a. Sprinkler head type and application rate

    b. Microirrigation type and application rate

    c. Location of heads with check valves

    d. All relevant pressure regulation

    e. Water source

A schedule of fixture and appliance specifications shall be submitted prior to inspection. The schedule should include fixture and appliance specifications, model numbers and relevant flow rates for all fixtures and appliances.

Residential compliance
To obtain Florida Water Star residential certification, the structure must contain sufficient, efficient features in each category so that the criteria are met and if Gold certification is sought, sufficient points are achieved in each category. Points for innovative water conservation and/or efficiency measures shall be awarded at the discretion of the agency and the TAC. The applicant shall provide the signed Landscape and Irrigation Affidavits.

Commercial/Institutional compliance
To obtain Florida Water Star Commercial/Institutional certification, the project must meet all requirements. All indoor fixtures and appliances must be water-efficient, as outlined in the Technical Manual, and outdoor water use must comply with certain design requirements and an annual irrigation water budget, using the water budget calculator.

Community compliance
To obtain Florida Water Star Community certification, all residences within the community must be certified as Florida Water Star Silver. In addition, any amenity buildings must be certified as Florida Water Star Commercial/Institutional and shared landscape areas must comply with the Florida Water Star Commercial/Institutional requirements.

All terms of the Applicant Participation Agreement must be met prior to issuance of a Florida Water Star certification. Submittals must be reviewed and approved by the inspector within 12 months of the initial submission. Any extension of this time must have written approval from the administrator.

The applicant is responsible for notifying the inspector that the project is ready for inspection. The applicant shall work to accommodate inspections in a timely manner.

If the inspection report identifies deficiencies, the applicant shall have 30 days to remedy deficiencies and request a reinspection. If additional time is needed, the applicant should submit a request to the inspector.

In the event requirements and standards are changed, as during the construction of a project, the applicant may elect to abide by either the requirements or standards in effect on the date the project was submitted to an administrator or by the standards in effect on the date of completion.

The applicant is responsible for any certification fee and for reimbursement of the inspector’s services.

A certification is not valid in perpetuity. Rather, a project can be recertified if the initial certification was issued within two years and no significant changes have been made in any areas relevant to the initial certification. A project may only be recertified once. The following must be completed prior to the reissuing of the certification:

a. The owner shall contract with a inspector for a new inspection. The cost of the inspection is the sole responsibility of the owner.

b. Upon review of the inspection reports, the administrator will determine if the project complies with the original certification criteria and issue a recertification.

Inspector responsibilities

Role of the inspector
Florida Water Star inspector

A Florida Water Star inspector inspects an irrigation system.

The inspector’s primary responsibility is to verify that the project has met the applicable Florida Water Star criteria. The inspector reviews the applicant’s submission for compliance with the program, completes the inspection, maintains inspection records according to ISO 17020, and submits the project to the administrator for certification.

Training — All individuals wishing to become certified must undergo an administrator-approved program training course. The course is coordinated and instructed by the St. Johns River Water Management District and usually lasts two days. A site visit to a Florida Water Star house is included. Individuals interested in becoming inspectors should have a baseline understanding of general building practices and specific knowledge in the areas of landscape and irrigation. Inspection experience is also helpful.

Testing — Testing typically occurs on the last day of training and the St. Johns District proctors the examination for inspectors. The test contains four sections: general, landscape, irrigation and indoor. Inspector must obtain a minimum score of 80% on each section of the exam. If a inspector does not receive 80% in any section of the exam, they may retake that section no more than twice within three months of their program training. Inspectors passing the exam will become “apprentice” inspectors.

Apprenticeship — Each apprentice inspector will be required to demonstrate two successful inspections, as determined by the administrator. The apprenticeship period should be completed within one year of initial program training. Upon completion of the apprentice period, prospective inspectors must sign a Participation Agreement with the administrator prior to submitting any reports used in this certification program.

Continuing education — A minimum of six hours of administrator-approved continuing education must be completed annually.

A inspector is chosen by the applicant through a list of active inspectors on this website. The administrator is not involved in the assignment of a inspector to a project and does not participate in the financial relationship between the applicant and inspector. The inspector is responsible for ensuring the Participation Agreement is signed and submitted to the administrator for processing.

  1. The inspector consults with the applicant to explain the Florida Water Star℠ Program and certification criteria.
  2. The inspector must start a record in the Portal in advance of completion of the project. The administrator will not accept submissions without at least 24 hours’ notice of the inspection.
  3. Inspectors review project documents, including landscape and irrigation drawings, indoor schedule of appliances, and list of fixtures.
  4. During the certification process, the inspector shall arrange inspection(s) to verify that the applicable criteria have been met. This inspector may upload supporting documentation to the Portal throughout the project’s term.
  5. Once the inspector has verified that all criteria have been met, installed and verified, the inspector submits the attestation through the Portal to the certifier.
  6. Upon verification, the certifier awards the appropriate Florida Water Star certificate to the inspector through the Portal.


a. Using the as-built drawing, the inspector verifies that the site meets certification criteria.

b. For residential certification, measurements shall include confirming the square footage of the landscaped area, turf grass area, planting areas/beds, tree shade area and preserved areas, if any.

c. It is recommended that inspectors use the waterwise plant database to confirm site appropriateness of landscape plants.

d. For Commercial/Institutional certification, the inspector must evaluate whether the landscape can survive with the irrigation water budget.


a. Using the as-built drawing, the inspector verifies that the irrigation system meets certification criteria.

b. Inspectors shall verify that all zones and equipment are operational in accordance with criteria.

c. Inspector shall confirm that the necessary documents are posted adjacent to the irrigation controller.

d. For Commercial/Institutional certification, the inspector must evaluate the accuracy of the irrigation water budget.

Indoor plumbing
Photo-documentation should be submitted, as deemed necessary, to prove indoor prerequisite compliance and point achievement.

Quality assurance audits and surveillance
Program certifiers (UL and Intertek) will contact inspectors directly to arrange quality assurance audits and surveillance according to their ISO 17025 program. Frequency of audits depends on the type of inspection agency the inspector is part of, however, expect a minimum of one audit every 12-18 months.

Random sampling
For large developments, the inspector may apply to the administrator for permission to perform random residential inspections, rather than inspect every structure. The applicant’s drawings must demonstrate that all structures for certification are similar and compliance with Florida Water Star criteria can be achieved with random inspections. Typically, a random inspection schedule of one in five residences or structures will be recommended for developments but sampling will be at the discretion of the administrator.

Accredited Professional responsibilities

Role of the accredited professional
Professionals testing to become Florida Water Star accredited professionals.

Irrigation and landscape professionals undergo training and testing to become accredited professionals in the Florida Water Star program.

The accredited professional plays somewhat of a voluntary role in the program. It is not mandatory for the applicant to use an accredited professional. However, it is more likely that the project will be designed and installed to meet the program criteria if an accredited professional is used. To become an accredited professional, the landscape or irrigation professional must attend a training class and pass an exam in either landscape or irrigation, or both, if desired. See the accredited professionals list or Candidate Handbook for additional information.

If an accredited professional is hired for a Florida Water Star project, they should, if possible, be involved during the design phase. Frequent communication between the applicant, accredited professional and the inspector should prevent any problems during the inspection of the project. If separate landscape and irrigation professionals are hired, then both individuals should be part of the certification discussion to ensure success.


The residential tier of Florida Water Star requires that an affidavit be signed by both the landscape and irrigation professional prior to certification. The affidavit must be given to the inspector prior to certification.

Administrator responsibilities

Role of the administrator

Triconic manages the day-to-day operation of the Florida Water Star program, including maintaining the certification Portal and supporting inspectors and certifiers.

Review process

Within 14 days of receipt of notification that the inspector has completed and submitted an inspection report of the project in e–Certification, the administrator shall issue a letter to the applicant regarding certification (approval or no approval). The 14-day period does not start until all documentation is complete in e‑Certification.

If there is proof that the residence is using significantly more water than an average residence in the utility service area, the administrator may deny certification until the high water use issue has been resolved.

Any person (the “challenger”) shall have the right to challenge the certification of a Florida Water Star designation (a “challenge”). A challenge may be brought with respect to the irrigation design and installation, landscape design and installation, and plumbing, e.g., products used and their installation. The challenger shall attempt to work with the inspector or the administrator to understand the designs and installations as well as the program requirements at the time certification was granted. It is recommended that the challenger attend a Florida Water Star training session. A challenge may not be brought with respect to any certification more than one year after certification and prior to sale of the home.

A challenge may be brought by delivering a Letter of Challenge to the program administrator. The Letter of Challenge shall be delivered by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by other method, that provides evidence of and a receipt for delivery. The Letter of Challenge shall contain a simple but complete statement of the challenger’s claim, with reasonable substantiation for the claim. The letter must be signed by the challenger. The administrator shall have the sole authority to accept or reject the Letter of Challenge. If the administrator rejects the Letter of Challenge, a full explanation of the rejection must be sent to the challenger. This notification shall include options available to the challenger.

If the Letter of Challenge is accepted, the administrator may request that the challenger sign an agreement agreeing to pay for the challenge if it is found to be without cause. The administrator shall convey a copy of the Letter of Challenge to the inspector responsible for the recommendation for Authorization of Certification. Within 30 days, the inspector shall review the Letter of Challenge and request any additional information needed to render a decision to the administrator as to the accuracy of the original Authorization of Certification. This information shall include, in cases of a challenge to the irrigation program, a review of all calculations. For landscaping, the inspector shall also review the original photographs and compare them to the present view. A visual walk-through must be conducted to verify that indoor criteria are met. The Challenge Recommendation shall be set forth in writing by the inspector and submitted to the administrator. The written recommendation shall indicate whether the certification is accurate and state, in detail, the basis for the decision.

The administrator shall review the Challenge Recommendation and may accept the recommendation as written or may request an independent review and/or reinspection. In this event, the administrator shall have sole authority to appoint an individual(s) or a firm(s) to review the Challenge Recommendation.

In the event the final Challenge Decision states that the Certification Authorization does not meet the criteria for certification, the administrator shall issue a written notice—a Notice of Suspension—to the builder/applicant suspending the home’s certification. If the Challenge Decision determines the responsible party or parties, the responsible party shall pay all expenses of the challenge related to conducting the challenge, including reasonable travel and reinspection costs. Failure to fulfill this responsibility may revoke the inspector’s and/or builder/applicant’s good standing within the program and the privileges therein. All rights of the builder/applicant to use the Florida Water Star name shall immediately cease with respect to the project.

Agency responsibilities

St. Johns River Water Management District is the Florida Water Star program agency and in this capacity owns all rights to the certification program and technical program documents of the Florida Water Star program. The agency has the sole authority to review and update program documents. The District will revise requirements and standards to maximize water use efficiency to the extent it may be technically and economically feasible to the current market.

Role of the agency

The agency provides the following:

  • Oversight for development of program criteria
  • Evaluation of program criteria and performance
  • Providing program-approved Inspector training
  • Offering apprenticeship inspections and reviewing apprentice reports
  • Approving new Inspectors
  • Maintenance of licensee agreements with all stakeholders

The agency is responsible for selecting TAC members and soliciting technical interpretations as required.

Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) responsibilities

TAC Membership

Professional Expertise




Green building

Relevant agencies

Utility representative

Florida Water Star staff

Florida Water Star inspector

Other administrators

TAC will provide advice to the St. Johns River Water Management District and the Administrator for the criteria interpretation and innovation evaluation of the Florida Water Star program. Members will review and comment on innovation or variance requests. This will not be a voting committee, and there will be no reimbursement for membership. Membership will be composed of both public and private entities. The table at right contains the TAC membership composition.

Term of service

Service on the committee will be for two consecutive years, with an option to serve an additional term. Inspectors will serve single-year terms.

Qualification for membership

Individuals seeking to serve on this committee must demonstrate a certain level of expertise in their field as well as knowledge of general water conservation practices and be willing to travel to meetings at least twice per year. TAC meetings will be held at either the St. Johns District’s Palatka Headquarters or Maitland Service Center.

Members of the TAC are listed here.

St. Johns River Water Management District
4049 Reid Street, Palatka, FL 32177