Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Contractors Fined for Not Following EPA Lead-safe Requirements on Home Projects

In two separate cases the EPA has fined North Dakota and Colorado contractors for alleged violations of the lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule). The three North Dakota home renovation companies, JH & JH Properties (Fargo), Clooten Siding & Window (Bismarck), and Buechler Construction (Bismarck) reached a settlement after joint inspections by the EPA and the North Dakota Department of Health in 2015 to evaluate compliance with the rule at job sites throughout Fargo and Bismarck.

“Lead-based paint is a significant source of lead poisoning for children,” said Suzanne Bohan, director of EPA’s regional enforcement program. “These settlements reflect EPA’s commitment to take action against companies that fail to take the necessary steps to educate residents and minimize exposure.”

Under the terms of the settlements, JH & JH Properties will pay $2,000, Clooten Siding & Window will pay $2,800, and Buechler Construction will pay $2,100 to resolve alleged violations. These include conducting work on homes built before 1978 without being an EPA RRP-certified firm; failure to inform property owners and the public of potential lead hazards; failure to have a properly trained RRP-certified renovator assigned to the project; inadequate records demonstrating RRP compliance; and, the failure to follow lead-safe work practices to minimize potential exposure.


Further south, the EPA also reached agreements with two Denver-area contractors, KSK Builders LLC and HomeWrights LLC, resolving alleged violations of the lead RRP rule.

According to the EPA, "the first settlement, KSK Builders LLC agreed to pay a $2,000 penalty to settle allegations that the firm conducted exterior renovations on a pre-1978 home in Denver without being an EPA RRP-certified firm and without establishing the required records of compliance with the RRP Rule. The second settlement alleges HomeWrights, LLC conducted a renovation, including replacement of windows, on a pre-1978 home in Denver without being an EPA RRP-certified firm, without assigning a properly trained certified renovator, and without establishing the required records of compliance with the rule. The firm has agreed to pay a $9,400 penalty to resolve the alleged violations and has since become a RRP-certified firm.

The settlements announced today are part of an ongoing initiative to protect northeast Denver communities from toxic lead paint hazards during home renovations. Most homes in these neighborhoods were built before lead was banned from use in paint products in 1978 and there is a high potential these homes may contain lead paint. The EPA initiative is focused on increasing awareness of the RRP requirements among both contractors and residents, as well as creating a strong deterrent for violators of the RRP Rule.

Infants, children, and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can, even at low levels, cause lifelong impacts including developmental impairment, learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems. Despite its ban from the U.S. in 1978, EPA estimates that lead-based paint is still present in more than 30 million homes across the nation."

Denver Press Release and North Dakota Press Release.

--

Avoid fines and protect your community! Sign up for EPA Lead Renovator (RRP) Initial and EPA Lead Renovator (RRP) Refresher courses.

Monday, June 27, 2016

U.S. EPA to Help Six Communities Develop Sustainable Design Strategies

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today it has selected six cities for technical assistance with sustainable design strategies under its Greening America’s Communities (GAC) program. The 2016 cities chosen for assistance are: Columbia, SC; Brownsville, TX; Oklahoma City, OK; Muscatine, IA; Honolulu, HI; and Multnomah County, OR.

“EPA is excited to roll up our sleeves and start working with the next round of cities through Greening America’s Communities,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This program is another example of EPA making a visible difference in communities—helping build healthy, vibrant neighborhoods and stronger local economies centered on environmental sustainability.”

In the coming months, EPA will fund a team of designers to visit each selected city to create designs that will support a larger planning and implementation process for a pilot area. Through the Greening America’s Communities program, these teams will provide assistance to help communities use green infrastructure and other environmentally friendly designs to create more walkable, bikeable, and vibrant neighborhoods.

EPA will provide assistance for the following projects:
  • Columbia, SC will create designs to protect an urban stream and create a greenway that will minimize flooding and establish a walkable connection through the Capital City Mill District.
  • Brownsville, TX will add green infrastructure to the International Greenway along the U.S.-Mexico border to manage stormwater, create a more walkable street, and add shade and plants to cool an area experiencing higher temperatures due to climate change. 
  • Oklahoma City, OK will use green infrastructure to minimize flooding from a local stream and make improvements to streets in four neighborhoods that will increase safety and improve quality of life for residents.
  • Muscatine, IA will receive assistance to redesign a former state highway that now serves as a city street to help it become a safer gateway into downtown for both cars and bicycles.
  • Honolulu, HI will receive assistance to design street improvements and green infrastructure to better support walking and economic development around two planned rail stations.
  • Multnomah County will create designs for streets and public spaces in the Jade District to address heat island and air quality issues, manage stormwater, bolster infill development, and support the character and concerns of the surrounding community.
Under the GAC program, formerly known as Greening America’s Capitals, EPA helped 23 capital cities and the District of Columbia with sustainable design strategies. Results from previous GAC projects include:
  • Little Rock, AR received more than $3.2 million in public investment to revitalize Main Street.
  • Charleston, WV received a $650,000 grant from the U.S Department of Transportation for Slack Plaza redesign.
  • Lincoln, NE invested over $1.5 million from a U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant and from local funds to add green infrastructure and other improvements along 11th Street.
  • Baton Rouge, LA has secured $250,000 to begin detailed design of the Downtown Greenway and $100,000 for construction on the first section of the greenway trail.
  • Phoenix, AZ spent $575,000 to complete the first phase of bike lanes and other road improvements along Grand Avenue.
  • Montgomery, AL has spent $1.3 million of local funds to make improvements to the historic Selma to Montgomery Trail.
More information on Greening America’s Communities.
--

To learn more about green communities, check out our classes:

Monday, June 20, 2016

New Study Shows In Some US Zip Codes 14% of Children Suffer From Lead Poisoning

According to a new Washington Post article, in some US zip codes, 1 in 7 children suffer from high blood lead levels, mainly through exposure from lead paint.

According to the article, "in certain regions of the country, including parts of New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, more than 1 in 7 children tested for elevated levels of lead in their blood. Minnesota had the highest overall rate of young children with disturbing blood lead levels, at 10.3 percent. That was followed by Pennsylvania (7.8%), Kentucky (7.1%), Ohio (7%) and Connecticut (6.7%)."

Furthermore, because lead paint is typically found in pre-1978 homes and buildings, exposure appears to be more likely for children in poorer zip codes. This reiterates a study covered in our April blog post, "Lead Paint Violations Significantly Higher in Low Income Areas" and further illustrates that lead exposure, especially from lead paint, is still a major concern for public officials and families in older homes.

--

Contractors and construction workers have to stay particularly vigilant when working on older homes. If you attend to remove lead, you must be certified for Lead Abatement. If you are working on pre-1978 homes or child occupied facilities you must be a certified Lead Renovator.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

BREEAM Arrives in the US; What Does This Mean For LEED?

According to an article from the Environmental Leader, UK-based, BREEAM, Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology, is set to arrive in the United States thanks to a partnership between Building Research Establishment (BRE), which is the manager of BREEAM and the US-based LEED certification consultancy, BuildingWise.

"According to a BRE spokesperson, BREEAM has completed more than 542,868 certifications and has more than 2,242,262 registered buildings in 77 countries. In contrast, US Green Building Council’s LEED has completed about 80,000 certifications and has about 1 million buildings in the process of getting certified." So what does this mean for LEED certification and green building as a whole?

Both organizations already work alongside each other in different countries and appear to plan to do so in the United States, as well. BRE has a much lower cost of entry for buildings than LEED at about $1,000 and fewer barriers, so the organization plans to grow through work with existing buildings that can't reach LEED standards. Furthermore, BRE sees success as “a couple hundred thousand buildings coming into the program over the next five years.”

So what is BREEAM? 
"BREEAM is the world's leading sustainability assessment method for masterplanning projects, infrastructure and buildings. It addresses a number of lifecycle stages such as New Construction, Refurbishment and In-Use." (http://www.breeam.com/)

The partners in the US hope to focus on commercial buildings that are not LEED certified or already using a similar sustainability benchmarking tool. The BREEAM In-Use program provides an online tool for measuring and analyzing the buildings systems, with the goal of reducing its use of energy and water resources, as well as waste. 

Unlike the popular USGBC rating system that focuses on building operations, LEED for Existing Buildings, BREEAM In-Use does not have prerequisites to join the program, which opens the opportunity up to many buildings which were not previously eligible for such programs. Additionally, the lower cost to utilize the BREEAM In-Use program may provide a more feasible option for many buildings that could not invest in LEED certification. By providing an alternative to buildings that may have not even considered LEED to be feasible option, BREEAM has the potential provide a valuable service and help facilitate real improvements and resource savings as it settles in across the US.


Interested in green building? Check out our Green Building Continuing Education and LEED Exam Prep classes!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

New York Energy Week is THIS WEEK!

Are you in New York? New York Energy Week launched yesterday!
You can still register for NYEW 2016, which brings together 50+ panelists in 12+ events!

NYEW 2016 events:

- Monday: 5:30 pm - Opening Ceremony
- Tuesday: 8:00 am - Solar Breakfast | 5:30 pm - Women Disrupting Power
- Wednesday: 8:00 am - Oil & Gas Breakfast | 5:30 pm - EnerKnol-RTO Insider Panel on ISO Markets
- Thursday: 8:00 am - Energy-Supply Future for Buildings Breakfast | 5:30 pm - Demand-Side Management Future
- Friday: 2:00 pm - LED Lighting Showroom Workshop & Reception

If you're in the energy industry, don't forget to check out our Energy Efficiency Training!

Zack Academy Partners With Shaw Academy To Offer Online Marketing, Web Development, Finance, Photography, and Nutrition Classes

Fort Lauderdale, FL (June 14, 2016) - Zack Academy (www.ZackAcademy.com), a leading provider of career-oriented training and certification courses, announced today that it will include courses offered by Shaw Academy in its catalog of professional and creative development courses.

Shaw Academy offers high-quality online education across areas such as digital marketing and blogging, web design and development, financial trading, photography, and dieting and nutrition. The company has graduated thousands of students through its accredited courses, which are taught live online in easily manageable lessons.

“This partnership with Shaw Academy expands our offerings into new areas, such as photography and nutrition and further establishes the Zack Academy brand as a one-stop shop for vocational courses,” said Zachary Rose, Founder and CEO of Zack Academy. “We are very excited to begin this partnership with Shaw Academy and look forward to leveraging our network to grow both brands.”

Armando Aguero, Global Business Development/Strategic Partnership Manager at Shaw Academy commented, “Since Shaw Academy was founded in 2013 we have continued to grow and look for top-notch partners with the same desire to equip professionals with the means to enrich their careers and personal lives. This partnership with Zack Academy allows us to meet both goals and we look forward to a prosperous relationship.”

About Zack Academy:
Zack Academy is a leading online marketplace for career-oriented training and certification courses, offering classes and seminars across the United States in areas including software and programming training; construction; contractor licensing and renewal; lead, asbestos and mold certification; LEED exam prep; stormwater and water management; solar training; cleaning/restoration/water damage; business practices; analytics; and more. Zack Academy provides a one-stop shop for career and certification training in partnership with hundreds of local training companies across the United States.

About Shaw Academy:
Shaw Academy is a professional training and higher education institution dedicated to making the highest quality, practical education accessible to all. We are committed to both excellence in teaching and support, enhancing the learning experience of each individual student. We provide cutting edge education, offering highly innovate topics, administered in a flexible nature.

Release Contact:
Peter Sfraga
Marketing Manager
646-564-3792

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Annual Health Costs of U.S. Occupational Lead Poisoning

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning
A new International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health report by Ronnie Levin of Harvard's School of Public Health claims that direct medical costs for 10,000 U.S. workers with high lead exposure are $141 million. Including indirect costs this number jumps to over $392 million, which works to about $40,000 in damage per worker.

According to Levin, "This is probably a very low estimate of the actual annual costs of high lead occupational exposures in the U.S., and should be understood as merely indicative of the potential benefits of reducing those exposures."

Furthermore, Levin finds that workers bear the majority of the cost, ranging from 18-44% of direct cost and most of the indirect cost. The second largest portion, at 20%, is paid by taxpayers, through Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, etc.

Construction workers are often overlooked as prime targets for lead exposure, so it is important to remain vigilant and understand how to protect you and your family. It is vital that you stay up to date on your Lead Renovator Certification and have all of the proper tools including the Lead-Safe RRP Project Binder, LeadCheck Testing Kit, and Renovate Right Pamphlets.