Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Top 10 States for LEED in 2016

USGBC announces the top 10 states for green building projects.
Source: United States Green Building Council

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) announced its annual list of the top 10 states for LEED, which recognizes states at the forefront of sustainable design, construction and renovation in 2016. The list is based on a combination of 2010 Census data and certified green building projects within each state.

"LEED guides our buildings, cities, communities and neighborhoods to become more resource - and energy-efficient, healthier for occupants and more competitive in the market place," Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC, said in a recent press release.

The list assesses the total square feet of LEED-certified space per resident of the state. It encourages developers to think outside of the box with design while creating low-cost, low energy solutions.

USGBC put together an infographic presenting LEED statistics in 2016. Spoiler alert: Massachusetts ranks number one in certified green building projects per capita.

Source: United States Green Building Council

To see the full list - and if your state made the top 10 - visit USGBC's official site. For more information about how to get LEED certified, visit Zack Academy's LEED homepage.

Zack Academy Partners with Aqualytics, LLC to Offer Certified Pool Operator (CPO) Training


Fort Lauderdale, FL (January 31, 2017) -
Zack Academy (www.ZackAcademy.com), a national provider of certification and training courses, announced today that it has partnered with Aqualytics, LLC to expand its rapidly growing pool management category.

Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Aqualytics, LLC offers Certified Pool Operator (CPO) Training in Davie, Florida. The course teaches individuals the basic knowledge and skills needed for pool and spa operations, including water chemistry, filtration and recirculation, disease prevention, and more. The CPO Certification is required in 25 states--including Florida--and several local jurisdictions.

"This partnership with Aqualytics, LLC helps to expand out our quickly growing pool management category to a large market in southeast Florida. We are excited to add another well-known trainer to the Zack Academy Network and we look forward to mutual success in the pool and spa industry," said Zachary Rose, founder and CEO of Zack Academy.

About Aqualytics, LLC:
Aqualytics is a leading provider of aquatic education courses, facility management, and consultation for the swimming pool industry. Our primary mission is to develop highly trained aquatic professionals through exceptional instructor leadership and training programs that exceed the industry standards. All classes are taught as part of the Nova Southeastern University Aquatics Institute curriculum.

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.

Release Contact:
Peter Sfraga
Marketing Manager

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

4 Product Switches to Make a Cleaner, Safer Home

To ensure your family’s health and well-being, it’s a good idea to take a good look at the products you use daily in your home. Unbeknownst to you, you may be adding toxins to your home’s air, posing hazards to your family’s health, and contributing to your family’s illnesses. Avoiding the products on our list will help make your home a cleaner, safer place for everyone.

1. Switch from Candles to Essential Oils
While we all love certain scents in our homes at various times of the year, choosing to diffuse essential oils instead of burning candles is one way to improve the air quality in your home. And, if your family suffers from asthma or allergies, essential oils can relieve symptoms of those conditions while candles can aggravate them.

There are several reasons that candles can be harmful. Most contain paraffin wax that creates carcinogens like benzene and toluene when burned. Scented candles also often have lead wicks or lead cores in the wick that release lead into the home through candle soot. The residue from the soot can affect the central nervous system and cause cancer. Candles also contain artificial scents and dyes that release more chemicals into your home when you burn them.

Alternatively, pure essential oils freshen your home and release natural ingredients that boost physical and mental health when you use them in an essential oil diffuser. You can also make combinations of essential oils to customize scents or address certain health conditions.

2. Switch from Traditional Laundry Detergent to Organic Laundry Detergent
Chances are, you grew up in a house that used a particular brand of laundry detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets. While those scents may be familiar to you, they certainly do not guarantee clean laundry. In fact, most commercial laundry detergents contain surfactants, or chemical ingredients, that can release benzene, which is linked to cancer and reproductive issues. Most detergents also improve the smell and appearance of clothing but do not do much of anything to improve their cleanliness. And, in some cases, detergent ingredients contribute to allergies.

The solution is to switch from traditional laundry detergent to organic laundry detergent. Organic laundry detergent is free of chlorine, phosphates, and artificial additives that pose a risk to your family’s health. They do not contain synthetic dyes and perfumes that aggravate allergies and contribute to skin irritation. Be sure the organic laundry detergent you choose is made with natural, certified ingredients.

3. Switch from Non-Stick Cookware to Non-Toxic Cookware
While non-stick cookware is convenient, it is not safe. Studies show that Teflon-coated and other non-stick cookware pieces pose health risks because they leach carcinogenic toxins into your food while you cook. Some studies find the risk is lower when cooking using low heat, but the majority of the food we cook requires high heat. When it reaches high temperatures, the non-stick polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coating on pots and pans releases toxic fumes and has been known to cause flu-like symptoms in people and cause birth defects.

Alternatives to toxic non-stick cookware include cast iron cookware, enameled cast iron pans, stainless steel and titanium cookware, ceramic cookware with zero lead content and without colored glaze on the inside, and glass cookware. Cooking with olive oil in these pans will help your food stick less.

4. Switch from Regular Tap Water to Filtered Water
Studies have found that there are more than 2,100 drinking water contaminants that may be present in tap water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also claims that drinking water contributes to about 480,000 cases of learning disorders in the United States. Lead is another dangerous impurity found in tap water, and consuming too much can lead to a higher risk for high blood pressure, kidney disease, stroke, and even cancer.

Bottled water is not a good alternative because it may contain contaminants from runoff and other environmental hazards. That’s why switching to pure, contaminant-free drinking water using filtration systems is better for your family’s health and safety.

Filtered water is the best and healthiest alternative to tap water and bottled water because filters effectively remove more dangerous contaminants than other purification methods. Water filtration systems also leave healthy minerals in the water while removing contaminants and poisons that pose risks to your family’s health.

Switching to safer products is one way to ensure your family’s health and safety. If you have further concerns about the hazards posed to your family’s health, schedule a home inspection with a certified inspector who can examine the interior and exterior of your home for problems, defects, and safety issues.

Image via Pixabay by ckahlon

This guest blog post was contributed by Charlotte Meier of Home Safety Hub, a state-specific safety resource database that helps keep families and communities safe.

Monday, January 23, 2017

San Francisco Contractors Fined for Bidding without EPA RRP Certification

According to a story from the North Bay Business Journal, 11 construction firms in the San Francisco bay area were fined for placing bids on jobs without receiving proper lead renovator (RRP) certification. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the firms were seeking construction work with the San Francisco Unified School District but were not awarded contracts.

While settlements were reached last year, the EPA only announced the fines last week. The below firms were fined and required to receive certification to continue work:

  • Arntz Builders Inc.: $5,000
  • Jeff Luchetti Construction Inc.: $3,000
  • Pinguelo Construction Inc.: $2,000
  • Vila Construction Co.: $1,000
  • Zolman Construction and Development: $9,000 
  • Transworld Construction: $8,000 
  • Rodan Builders: $7,000
  • Roebbelen Contracting: $3,000
  • Rainbow Waterproofing and Restoration Co.: $2,000
  • S.J. Amoroso Construction Co.: $1,000
  • Seven Island Painting: $1,000
“The fines were based on the number of different projects each firm bid on at [the school district] for which EPA had evidence,” said agency spokeswoman Michelle Huitric.

Make sure you are RRP certified before placing any bids! Register for the EPA Lead Renovator Certification Initial or the Online EPA Lead Renovators Refresher course today. Call 646-564-3546 if you have any questions.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Portland, Oregon Passes Ordinance to Disclose Energy Performance to Homebuyers

Portland's new Home Energy Score Ordinance (HESO) will require homes for
sale to list home energy scores; the policy seeks to improve the
city's energy efficiency.

The Portland City Council adopted an ordinance requiring single-family homes for sale to include home energy scores on their listings. Effective January 1, 2018, the new policy seeks to create jobs for the energy industry, improve the city's energy efficiency and help citizens save money on energy.

The new ordinance will require sellers to obtain a home energy report from a licensed energy assessor, which will drive consumers to local energy efficiency organizations. In turn, this incentivizes private remodeling investments that will lower utility bills and reduce harmful emissions. This will increase the comfort, safety and knowledge of owners who will be able to make more informed decisions about their homes prior to purchase.

"We believe it is a consumer's right to know how much energy a potential new home will consume," Don MacOdrum, Executive Director of the Home Performance Guild of Oregon, said in a recent press release.

The Home Energy Score Ordinance (HESO) was passed in collaboration of several energy efficiency organizations, including the Home Performance Guild of Oregon.These organizations have worked with realtors and appraisers to help make information about home energy efficiency more accessible to consumers. One of the developments includes labels, scores and standards that allow for easily dissected information for consumers.

"The scale of this policy represents a great opportunity for local real estate and leading professionals to consider it every time a home is put on the market," David Heslam, Executive Director of the Portland-based nonprofit Earth Advantage, said in a recent press release.

The passage of HESO is a major step in helping consumers get involved in energy efficiency. Not only will it help them make more informed decisions on their home purchase, the policy will influence energy efficiency and growth in the city of Portland.