The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was seeking to increase the use of their WaterSense Water Budget Tool. Designed to help builders and landscapers plan for efficient water use when planning new construction, the Water Budget Tool was previously a downloadable spreadsheet, and so the EPA was looking for a more intuitive and interactive tool that would allow users to complete their calculations without leaving the EPA site. The EPA turned to their Maryland-based design agency, LMD, to help conceptualize a new, interactive web application that would provide a simple, easy-to-use interface for a broad range of web users. LMD in turn partnered with Portland Webworks as the technical implementation partner to help bring the new application concept to life.
Working collaboratively with LMD to review both the immediate and long-term objectives for the tool, Portland Webworks recommended developing a Flex-based web application that guides users through a 3-step process for calculating the water usage and irrigation requirements for their project, whether for single sites or multiple-unit developments. The decision to use Flex for the presentation technology was driven by a desire to provide the most consistent experience across the broadest range of browsers possible. The technology choice also allowed the team to maintain a rapid development path, quickly pushing out changes for review and testing.
The new tool that has been developed goes a long way in helping developers and irrigation specialists quickly determine if their anticipated water use will be in line with regional certification requirements, and create a downloadable result sheet to help in the certification process. Now that Phase I of the application is complete, LMD has begun working with the EPA to develop plans for Phase II. Discussions for enhancing the application include universal mobile support as well as increased granularity when selecting plant and landscape features, to provide even more accurate projections for water consumption.