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.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Zack Academy Partners with Interactive Occupational Training to Offer Online Mold Training


Fort Lauderdale, FL (June 27, 2017) -
Zack Academy (, a national marketplace for certification and training classes, announced today that it has partnered with Interactive Occupational Training (IOT) to expand its online anytime mold training schedule.

Based in Westminster, Colorado, IOT offers online mold training, including Certified Mold Awareness (CMA), Certified Mold Technician (CMT), and Certified Mold Technician Level II Professional (CMTP).
  • The Certified Mold Awareness (CMA) Online course will instruct students on mold contamination and basic remediation. Students will learn how to identify different types of mold based on microbiology concepts and how to address mold activity. This class emphasizes industry-standard procedures for safe remediation.
  • The Certified Mold Technician (CMT) Online course will satisfy training requirements for mold remediation technicians. Students will learn industry-standard procedures for mold remediation such as performing assessments and sampling contaminated areas, containment strategies, cleaning protocols and personal protective equipment.
  • The Certified Mold Technician Level II Professional (CMTP) Online course will prepare students for the entire process of mold remediation. Students will learn industry-standard procedures for mold remediation such as performing assessments and sampling contaminated areas, containment strategies, cleaning protocols and personal protective equipment. This course also focuses on the business aspect of litigation and liability of mold projects; students will learn protocols that apply to running a successful mold remediation business. It is ideal for those who intend to run their own mold remediation company.
"Interactive Occupational Training is a wonderful addition to the Zack Academy Network with several in-demand mold courses available nationwide, online. We look forward to a long-term relationship as both companies continue our goal to properly train as many mold professionals as possible," said Zachary Rose, founder and CEO of Zack Academy.

About Interactive Occupational Training:
Interactive Occupational Training is an online and classroom training and certification school specializing in mold remediation and health and safety training. IOT is an accredited school governed and regulated by the State of Colorado Department of Higher Education Div. of Private Occupational Schools with reciprocity in all States.

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

New Report Finds Lead in Baby Food

An alarming study from the Environmental Defense Fund found
lead in 20% of samples of baby food.

Despite precautions taken by lead workers in order to prevent lead exposure, new cases of lead poisoning emerge every year in the United States. Some sources of exposure are obvious, such as lead dust from deteriorating buildings. But some sources are surprising. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) released a report yesterday which found lead in 20% of 2,164 baby food samples.

In the report, EDF evaluated data collected from the Food and Drug Administration between 2003 and 2013. Lead was found in 89% of grape juice samples and 86% of mashed sweet potato samples. Detectable lead was also found in 47% of teething biscuit samples. One of the most insidious findings was that baby food was more likely to contain lead than regular versions of comparable food items.

There is no safe level of lead exposure. Lead poisoning can result in anemia, renal dysfunction, reproductive illnesses, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning - and because lead poisoning is cumulative, lead in baby food is a huge threat to youth.

But how does lead end up in baby food? There isn't one definitive answer. In applesauce and other mashed baby foods, lead can be explained by lead accumulating in soil and groundwater. The presence of lead in teething biscuits might come from facility contamination or trace minerals in powdered ingredients. Still, the mere presence of lead in baby food points to the need for even stricter FDA standards.

In the end of their report, EDF recommends for FDA to update its lead guidelines to "reflect current scientific understand of lead risks." They also ask for manufacturers to test their products more frequently and prioritize safety when sourcing ingredients.

Finally, EDF recommends consumers to take action by regularly testing products themselves. Unfortunately, EDF did not elaborate as to which brands or how much lead was found in flagged samples. Still, EDF recommends less than 1 ppb of lead for baby food.

No matter whether its inhaled or ingested, lead can be extremely toxic. Lead has no place in homes, nor in people's diets. Only vigilance and awareness can protect our communities from lead poisoning.

You can check out the full EDF report. To learn more about lead certification, visit Zack Academy's lead homepage.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Top 10 Asbestos Safety Tips

Asbestos can be fatal when mishandled. These 10 asbestos safety tips
can help make your project safer.

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral used heavily in construction for its durability and affordability. Used mainly as insulation, its flame retarding properties have helped to protect many buildings. However, asbestos can be extremely toxic when mishandled. Exposure to asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other respiratory diseases. As a result, the use of asbestos has become tightly regulated in most countries.

Still, asbestos can be part of construction designs if safely handled and often has to be removed by certified contractors. Here are some tips to ensure safety when working with asbestos:
  1. Wear a mask: Asbestos exposure is cumulative. Once asbestos fibers are inhaled, there is no way to extract them from the respiratory system. Wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus with a filter is important for all workers who may come across asbestos in their projects. If you are an employer, provide protective equipment to your employees. 
  2. Don't cross-contaminate work gear: The minute an asbestos worker steps off a job site, they should separate their work clothes and materials. Asbestos dust and fibers can transfer to clothing and vehicle interiors, so it is critical to rinse off work gear before leaving the job site. 
  3. Shower: In addition to rinsing off work gear, asbestos workers should rinse themselves off after projects. Fibers can attach to skin and hair, and travel home with workers. This is a major source of secondary exposure, but it is avoidable. 
  4. Remember OSHA exposure limits: OSHA identifies the exposure limit for asbestos as 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter of air on an eight-hour shift. Knowing the exposure limit will help employees and employers remove themselves from unsafe situations before they risk health hazards. 
  5. Communicate asbestos presence: Don't assume any worker knows which materials are likely to have asbestos. OSHA requires employers to communicate asbestos risks to employees. It never hurts to reiterate crucial information. 
  6. Rethink construction methods: If it becomes clear that asbestos is present on a job site, avoid construction methods such as power tools or sanding discs that create a lot of uncontrolled dust. 
  7. Pay attention to air conditioning systems: Heating and air conditioning systems can disperse asbestos fibers during a project. It's important to be extra careful around vents to control asbestos exposure. 
  8. Don't smoke: Numerous studies have shown that smoking increases the risk of developing asbestos related diseases. If you work with asbestos, consider abstaining from smoking to protect your respiratory system. 
  9. Don't hesitate to test: If you're uncertain as to whether your project contains asbestos, get materials tested by accredited inspectors immediately. Finishing a job quickly is not worth the thousands of dollars in fines that you'd be responsible for if asbestos is mishandled on a project nor is it worth negative health effects down the line. 
  10. Seek proper training: Certified asbestos workers know how to handle asbestos safely and more efficiently. 
To learn more about asbestos health hazards, visit the Mesothelioma Center. To learn more about asbestos certification, visit Zack Academy's asbestos homepage.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

How to Stop Mold From Lurking in Basements

Basements are favorite areas for mold to accumulate due to
their optimal humidity and moisture levels.

It's (nearly) officially summer and while the surf and sand bring seasonal cheer, humidity and summer storms create the perfect conditions for mold to take over homes. For many homeowners, the common area of blight is the basement. Basements are the first level of foundation to be exposed to poor drainage systems and often unfrequented areas, which means mold can grow for quite a while time before homeowners even notice.

In order to prevent mold, property owners are advised to invest in a dehumidifier. Basement humidity levels should be below 45%, as mold thrives in moist conditions. To maintain optimal humidity levels, many dehumidifiers now come with automatic shut off features so homeowners only need to set them once.

Homeowners who forego an appropriate dehumidifier in their basement run the risk of their belongings taking on moisture. Organic materials such as wood furniture, paper and clothes are particularly susceptible to mold; important documents or family heirlooms can be lost due to improper moisture levels in basements. In fact, most mold remediation companies advise against having too many items in your basement because too much stuff can limit airflow, making moisture removal more difficult.

Another key aspect of mold prevention is good drainage around the foundation. There are many mechanisms that create poor drainage: clogged gutters, faulty drain tile, poor insulation around the foundation are just a few. Improper drainage systems can cause water to accumulate in walls and floors, which is where you'll find most mold in homes.

Unfortunately, mold in basements can migrate throughout a home. Mold spores can be easily disturbed from just moving boxes or attempting to clean mold without proper containment. Once these mold spores are airborne, they can spread by air-conditioning units blowing spores through the vents. Mold exposure can cause a variety of illnesses ranging from respiratory infections to migraines.

This summer, don't let mold ruin your basement or your vacation. Follow these simple tips to prevent mold contamination from happening to you.

To learn more about attaining a mold certification, visit Zack Academy's website.