Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Energy Report Calls out Trucking for Unchecked Carbon Emissions, Air Pollution

International Energy Agency reports road-freight transport accounts for a
third of transport carbon dioxide emissions, yet regulations have
curiously overlooked this sector. 

Improving the efficiency of freight transport is critical to reducing carbon emissions, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In their report, The Future of Trucks: Implication for energy and the environment, IEA calls out trucks for their contribution to oil demand and air pollution, while urging industry leaders to push for reform.

Trucking is a major factor in carbon emissions. The growth in oil demand from trucks has outpaced all other sectors - including aviation and feedstocks - since 2000. Freight transport accounts for almost one fifth of global oil demand, or around 17 million barrels of oil a day. As a result, trucking's heavy reliance on oil products contributes to a third of total transport-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Yet, IEA alleges that the sector flies under the radar compared to passenger vehicles. In fact, only four countries have energy-efficiency standards for freight trucks, compared with 40 countries that have passenger-vehicle standards.

In their report, IEA concedes that road-freight trucking is essential for a global economy. Still, they offer solutions to improve efficiency and sustainability of the sector.

One solution is improving logistics and systems operations. This can maximize the utility of cargo transported while reducing the number of wasteful trips taken without any cargo. Low carbon pathways might encourage local deliveries, as the report notes that long distance deliveries tend to be much more inefficient than local ones.

Another solution is installing aerodynamic retrofits and low-rolling resistance tires to reduce drag on existing trucks, while implementing lightweight materials, energy-efficient or hybrid engines and GPS systems to reduce idling and excessive fuel consumption.

Still, a third solution advises the trucking industry to consider alternative fuels such as natural gas, biofuels, electricity, wind or hydrogen in all aspects of transport in order to diversify fuel supply.

"For far too long, there has been a lack of policy focus on truck efficiency. Given they are now the dominant driver of global oil demand, the issue can no longer be ignored if we are to meet our energy and environmental objectives," Faith Birol, IEA executive director, said in a recent press release.

Although some of the improvements seem expensive or complex, many can be accomplished if industry leaders push for it. It's not impossible - parallels can be drawn from the building sector's new era of sustainable design. Regardless, improving fuel-economy standards, logistics and energy technology is beneficial not just for the trucking industry, but for everyone.

To read the IEA report, visit their publication library. To learn more about energy efficiency and begin working in this dynamic field, visit Zack Academy.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Chicago Leads Nation with 66% of Office Spaces LEED Certified

With 66 percent of commercial offices now LEED
certified, Chicago's push for sustainable
design has paid off.

Chicago now boasts the highest percentage of LEED or Energy Star certified office buildings, according to a study published last Thursday by CBRE Group Inc. and Maastricht University. At 66%, Chicago has surpassed green building hubbubs such as Houston and Minneapolis - and dethroned San Francisco's top spot this year.

For perspective, only 38% of buildings are LEED or Energy Star certified in the average U.S. real estate market. Industry leaders in Chicago have pushed to get others on board with sustainable design.

In April, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel outlined a plan to transition all municipal buildings to 100% renewable energy by 2025. Chicago cut carbon emissions by 7% from 2010 to 2015. The windy city has also created incentives for developers to add sustainable features to buildings. Altogether, its created a culture for green design to flourish.

"Green certification is no longer an oddity or nice to have. In many top markets, it's an oddity if you're not green certified," Nils Kok, associated professor and contributing researcher to the study, said in a recent press release.

Commercial buildings are the top source of greenhouse gas emissions in Chicago, according to the windy city's website. The city has since filed an ordinance that requires some 900 million square feet of commercial buildings to publish their energy ratings each year. This positive peer pressure has made both new and old buildings reevaluate their sustainability.

Green roofs, sustainable water systems and low-energy heating systems are some of the most popular features in Chicago offices. Some buildings have energy monitors in the lobby where all tenants can see the energy performance of the building.

"Green buildings are getting the bigger tenants, higher dollars, and more investor capital," David Pogue, global director of CBRE Group Inc., said in a recent press release.

To read the study, visit the CBRE Index. To learn more about LEED and other sustainable design certifications, visit Zack Academy's website.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mold and Lead Updates in DC, Maryland, and Virginia

This blog post contains several updates for those performing lead and mold work in the DC, Maryland, Virginia Area.


The DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) recently sent a letter to mold assessment and remediation companies highlighting the licensing enforcement date of August 7, 2017.

Those engaged in the business of mold assessment or remediation in DC must be appropriately licensed by August 7, 2017. Failure to obtain a license could lead to penalties, including fines. After August 7, 2017, mold training courses must be taken from a department-approved training provider. Please visit Zack Academy for mold remediation and mold inspection training available in-person and online.

The regulations also:
  • Specify minimum performance standards and work practices
  • Establish criteria for an individual to obtain a license
  • Identify project notification requirements
  • Provide on-site recordkeeping requirements


Maryland has passed a new bill that require lead testing for school drinking water.

House Bill 270.  Signed by Governor with Effective Date of June 1, 2017.
  • Requires periodic testing for the presence of lead in each drinking water outlet located in an occupied public or nonpublic school building.
  • Requires initial testing to be conducted on or before July 1, 2018.
  • Places a priority of testing to school buildings constructed before 1988 and school buildings serving Pre-K through Grade 5.
  • Sets actionable requirements for elevated samples.
  • Requires a stakeholder group be developed to provide advice and recommendations on the development of regulations for periodic testing for the presence of lead in each drinking water source.


Virginia has also passed a new bill that require lead testing for school drinking water.

Senate Bill 1359. Approved March 20, 2017.
  • Each local school board shall implement a plan to test drinking fountains, cafeteria or kitchen taps, classroom combination sinks and drinking fountains and sinks known to be used for consumption.
  • Remediate if necessary potable water from sources identified by the U.S. EPA as a high priority.
  • Priority is testing in school buildings constructed, in whole or in part, before 1986.
View Virginia Senate Bill 1359.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

New Study Links Lead Exposure to School Suspensions

A report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds
that lead exposure is linked to behavioral problems, school suspensions.

A report by The American Prospect Magazine has found that children with high blood-lead levels are more likely to be suspended from school. While the link between lead exposure and behavioral disorders is known, the report emphasizes the multifaceted issue of lead poisoning in poorer communities.

In the report, researchers found evidence linking lead exposure in children to an increased chance of school suspension and juvenile detention. The study used data from blood-lead levels and detention data for 120,000 children. Researchers found that a one unit increase in lead exposure increased suspensions issued to children by at least 6% and detentions by at least 27%.

An important feature of the report is that researchers can now name lead poisoning as a source of school discipline issues. Prior to the report, researchers were aware of a possible link but couldn't conclude if it was lead poisoning or poverty causing school discipline issues.

“What we find is that there’s a pretty robust relationship between early childhood lead levels as measured by the blood tests and future disciplinary infractions,” Anna Aizer, contributing researcher, said in a recent press conference.

Although the use of lead is highly regulated in the United States, many children are still exposed to dangerous levels of lead. State to state, progress in reducing lead poisoning in children has been unbalanced, especially in poor urban areas without the means to renovate old housing stock. Lead-based paint can flake away in old homes and be ingested or inhaled. Lead dust from construction or industrial waste can accumulate in soil. Toxic run-off can accumulate in drinking water, as lead particles from deteriorating lead water pipes.

As a result, disadvantaged children - a group already more likely to live in older housing stock - are disproportionately affected by lead poisoning, and it leads to disproportionate instances of school behavioral problems. For disadvantaged children, this can reduce their access to education and put them on track to juvenile detention.

This report comes right after another paper Aizer and other researchers co-published last year. In a similar study, they found that reducing children's blood-lead levels had significant positive effects on school performance.

"A one unit decrease in blood-lead levels reduces the probability of being substantially below proficient in reading by 3.1 percentage points,” the report stated.

In 2014, the Justice Policy Institute reported that the cost of juvenile detention reached nearly $150,000 per year state to state.

“Governments need to think about this. Crime is just an incredibly expensive outcome for a state, and lead mitigation is so much cheaper relative to that,” Anna Aizer said.

Certainly, reviewing the impact that lead exposure has on children is imperative for our nation's future. With more breakthroughs in lead poisoning research, it's evident that controlling lead exposure should be priority for all.

To read the original report, click here. To learn more about lead paint certification and how you can join this critical industry, visit Zack Academy's lead homepage.

Monday, July 10, 2017

EPA Compliance Series Part 1: Necessary Equipment for a Lead Safe RRP Job

As you may already know, complying with the EPA's Lead Safe Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule goes beyond just attending the Renovator Training and certifying your company. How you actually perform the work is the most important part of compliance. In this blog series, we'll look at what implementation of RRP lead-safe practices looks like on a job site, beginning with the equipment necessary to properly perform the work.

Without the right equipment, it is nearly impossible to comply with the regulations and standards established by the EPA's RRP Rule. In this breakdown, we will go step-by-step through a typical RRP project, and list for you the necessary materials and equipment needed to stay compliant with this rule. We will follow the Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting guide found in Appendix 5 of your RRP training manual.

STEP 1 - Determine If the Job Involves Lead-Based Paint:If a home or child-occupied facility was built before 1978, all surfaces affected by a renovation covered by the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule must either be tested for lead-based paint or presumed to contain lead-based paint. Testing must include all affected surfaces coated with paint, shellac, varnish, stain, coating or even paint covered by wallpaper, if it will be disturbed during the renovation work. A report documenting the testing must describe the test used, the surfaces tested, and the results of the testing. Materials needed for this first step include:
  • EPA-recognized test kits, such as LeadCheck swabs
  • Utility knife
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Plastic bag for all waste created during the testing process
  • Wet rag for clean-up
STEP 2 - Set Up the Job Safety:
When you work on a job with lead-based paint, you must contain the work area to prevent the escape of dust and debris. The goal of proper setup of the work area is to keep dust in the work area and non-workers out. Materials and equipment needed for this step of an RRP Project include:
  • Warning signs
  • Barrier tape, rope or fencing
  • Cones
  • Heavy duty plastic sheeting
  • Masking, duct, or painter's tape
  • Stapler
  • Utility knife or scissors
  • Rigid framing material if using vertical containment
STEP 3 - Protect Yourself and Your Workers:
Without the right personal protective equipment, workers may ingest or inhale lead from the job and may risk bringing lead from the worksite home to their families. The right personal protective equipment and good personal hygiene will help combat lead exposure. Personal protective equipment includes:
  • Disposable coveralls
  • Painter's hat
  • Disposable N-100 rated respirator (at least)
  • Disposable shoe covers
  • Eye protection
  • Work gloves
STEP 4 - Minimize the Dust:
As you work, your goal is to keep the dust down. Remember that as you scrape, drill, cut, open walls, etc., you are creating dust. You can keep dust down by using the right tools and following some simple practices that minimize and control the spread of dust. Remember - work wet, work safe, work clean! Equipment and materials used during this process include:
  • Wet-dry sandpaper, sanding sponge
  • Misting bottle or pump sprayer
  • Heavy plastic sheeting
  • Utility knife or scissors
  • Masking tape, duct tape, or painters’ tape
  • High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum
  • Heavy duty plastic bags
  • Tack pads (large, sticky pads that help remove dust), paper towels, or disposable wipes
STEP 5 - Leave the Work Area Clean:
The work area should be left clean at the end of every day and must be cleaned thoroughly at the end of the job. The area must be completely free of dust and debris before it can be cleared by the Certified Renovator assigned to the project. Cleaning materials for an RRP Project include:
  • Heavy-duty contractor bags
  • HEPA vacuum with attachments and a powered beater bar
  • Masking tape, duct tape, or painters tape
  • Misting bottle or pump sprayer
  • Disposable wet-cleaning wipes or hand towels
  • General-purpose cleaner
  • Mop and disposable mop heads
  • Two buckets or one two-sided bucket with a wringer
  • Shovel and rake
  • Wet Mopping System
  • Electrostatically charged dry cleaning cloths
STEP 6 - Control the Waste:
Waste from renovation activities must be contained to prevent releases of dust and debris before the waste is removed from the work area for storage or disposal. Collect and control all your waste. This includes dust, debris, paint chips, protective sheeting, HEPA filters, dirty water, cloths, mop heads, wipes, protective clothing, respirators, gloves, architectural components and other waste. Equipment and materials needed for this step include:
  • Heavy-duty contractor bags
  • HEPA vacuum to clean outside of waste bags
  • Always check local requirements!
STEP 7 - Verify Work Completion with the Cleaning Verification Procedure or Dust Clearance Exams:
When your interior renovation work is complete, you have to do one of two clearance tests to ensure you cleaned up the job by the RRP standards - either a Cleaning Verification (CV) Procedure, or a Dust Clearance Examination performed by a Lead Inspector, Risk Assessor, or Dust Sampling Technician. As an EPA Certified Renovator, you are only allowed to perform a Cleaning Verification (CV) Procedure, in which you will check for dirt and dust by taking “swipes” of all windowsills, countertops and floors in the work area and checking them against your CV Card. The difference between this CV Procedure and a Dust Clearance Exam, is that for a Dust Clearance Exam, these “swipes” are sent to an accredited NLLAP laboratory. For exterior projects, when work areas have passed the visual inspection, the project is complete and the area may be turned over to the occupants. For conducting the Clearance Verification Procedure for interior projects, you will need:
  • A flashlight
  • CV card (provided in class)
  • Wet, disposable cleaning clothes
  • Cleaning materials if the renovation firm fails the Cleaning Verification Procedure
Keep in mind, this EPA RRP Rule applies to ALL activity that will disturb lead-based paint, whether you are a carpenter, an electrician, a plumber, a renovator, or the general contractor subbing out the actual work. If you do need training, or have additional questions on this topic, we are happy to help – send an email to contact@zackacademy.com or give us a call at 646-564-3546.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Green Building is a Top Trend in Luxury Design

Green building gets a luxurious touch as LEED makes
its way into the luxury real estate market.

When you think of "luxury," you might conjure up an image of extravagance and excess. Yet, luxury property designers across the United States are realizing less is more. This year, luxury developers have been increasingly incorporating sustainable design into their projects. Bridging the gap between modernity and functionality, these luxury designs are extravagantly sustainable.

Many of these projects are certified through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Led by the United States Green Building Council, LEED has become the most highly used green building rating system in the world. LEED certified projects are recognized by their commitment to renewable energy, reduced waste of resources and a conscientious effort to preserve surrounding environments. According to the USGBC, there are more than 273,059 LEED-certified residential units in the United States alone.

In trendsetting cities, eco-friendly features such as solar power panels and cyclical water drainage systems can be seen on sleek sky-rises. One such project in Miami is the Brickell City Centre. The center uses an outdoor connector in the development's retail space. The connector uses wind power and funnels it through the connector so it can be used for the building. The passageway also provides shade and even collects rainwater to be used in the building's air conditioning system.

"We are pioneer for the time," Christopher Gandolfo, vice president of Swire Properties, which developed the Brickell City Center, said in a recent press release.

LEED-certified projects offer high style and high functionality with very little economic or environmental impact. Reducing waste and energy-needs for projects is not only sustainable, but it keeps costs for projects down, too.

Overall, LEED projects are expected to grow in all property markets. From residential homes to commercial businesses and in all price points, sustainable design is one trend that is here to stay. Nevertheless, LEED is far from perfect because the rating system does not take into account the full lifecycle of the building and changes made after the certification is earned. Even so, it is a step in the right direction.

To get certified in LEED and participate in this exciting field, start with Zack Academy's LEED homepage.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

OSHA to Delay Record Keeping Rule to December

In light of complaints and lawsuit, it seems that OSHA
will delay its record keeping rule and review controversial

OSHA has announced that it might delay to December 1st the date by which some employers are legally required to electronically report workplace injury information from 2016. The original mandate, declared in January, would have set the deadline at July 1st.

The mandate has proved contentious. Proponents state increased transparency over workplace injuries will protect workers. Yet, several industry leaders, such as the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), filed a lawsuit challenging OSHA's right to issue the electronic reporting rule. Because the mandate would publicly release injury logs, stakeholders raised concerns over OSHA inspectors being able to cite employers without a formal complaint from workers.

On May 5, several construction industry associations submitted a formal request to review the rule's impact on workplace safety. OSHA has indicated that it intends to re-examine certain provisions in its final rule.

Further news is expected in December 2017. To learn more about the record keeping rule, visit OSHA's press release site. To learn more about OSHA certification training, visit Zack Academy's OSHA homepage.