Friday, March 30, 2018

USGBC Introduces LEED v4.1

LEED v4.1

This month, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) unveiled LEED v4.1 - an update to its LEED rating system. The update provides more opportunities for new and existing projects to earn LEED certification by changing its scoring system and streamlining its requirements.

One of the biggest changes is the new scoring system: LEED v4.1 gives more consideration to credit requirements that are directly measurable. For example, the Water Efficiency category increased in overall points while the Regional Priority category decreased in overall points. Now, 90 of the 100 possible points for LEED certification are awarded to credits that have a calculated performance score - based on actual data from the project. Realtime data is a facilitated through the incorporation of Arc, a platform for LEED associates that tracks building performance over time.

Credit requirements are also more streamlined. Some credits have been totally removed, while others have been umbrellaed under a broader credit. More flexible credit requirements mean that more projects can get LEED certification. One example is the broadened Water Efficiency category, where projects will receive more credit for water performance overall versus installing the latest low-flow pipes or cooling tower. This is important for existing projects and international projects, where alternative solutions are often seen but were not explicitly credited in previous LEED scoring systems.

Another interesting feature is LEED certification for spaces within buildings. This is another effort from USGBC to consider non-traditional markets and allow LEED certification for more projects.

With these changes, LEED v4.1 is poised to be a bigger, better and more inclusive update to one of the most widely used building performance rating systems in the world. As USGBC pushes to be a global force in sustainability, we're excited to see what new projects can be developed under LEED v4.1.

To learn more about LEED v4.1, visit USGBC. To learn more about LEED certification and how to get involved in this dynamic field, visit Zack Academy.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

When the Lead RRP Rule Applies: Defining Qualifying Work

When working on a pre-1978 house or child-occupied facility, it is important to take careful assessment of the work you will be performing and the potential scope of your project as it applies to the EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule.

Below we will discuss the EPA definitions of qualifying work under the RRP rule, and discuss an area often overlooked - what the EPA refers to as "demolition of painted surfaces" - which could require compliance for putting even a small hole in the wall!

In general, the RRP Rule applies to "renovation" work, which EPA defines as the following:

"Renovation means the modification of any existing structure, or portion thereof, that results in the disturbance of painted surfaces, unless that activity is performed as part of an abatement as defined by this part (40 CFR 745.223). The term renovation includes (but is not limited to):
  • The removal, modification or repair of painted surfaces or painted components (e.g., modification of painted doors, surface restoration, window repair, surface preparation activity (such as sanding, scraping, or other such activities that may generate paint dust)); 
  • the removal of building components (e.g., walls, ceilings, plumbing, windows); 
  • weatherization projects (e.g., cutting holes in painted surfaces to install blown-in insulation or to gain access to attics, planing thresholds to install weather-stripping), and interim controls that disturb painted surfaces. 
  • A renovation performed for the purpose of converting a building, or part of a building, into target housing or a child-occupied facility is a renovation under this subpart. 
  • The term renovation does not include minor repair and maintenance activities.

The RRP Rule excludes "minor repair and maintenance activities," so what does that entail? Let's refer again to the EPA Rule to get the exact definition:
  • Activities, including minor heating, ventilation or air conditioning work, electrical work, and plumbing;
  • That disrupt 6 square feet or less of painted surface per room for interior activities or 20 square feet or less of painted surface for exterior activities;
  • Where none of the work practices prohibited or restricted by § 745.85(a)(3) are used; 
  • And where the work does not involve window replacement or demolition of painted surface areas. 
  • When removing painted components, or portions of painted components, the entire surface area removed is the amount of painted surface disturbed. Jobs, other than emergency renovations, performed in the same room within the same 30 days must be considered the same job for the purpose of determining whether the job is a minor repair and maintenance activity.

So while there is the exclusion from the RRP Rule for work that is less than the minimum square footage listed above, it is important to note that the exclusion does not extend to any activities defined as window replacement or "demolition of painted surface areas" and this type of work would require compliance with the RRP Rule. 

In this scope, the EPA defines "demolition" to mean "an activity that removes or otherwise disrupts a painted component in a way that destroys or ruins the component."

Here are a few FAQs quoted from the EPA website which further illustrate the demolition provision and overall scope of the RRP rule: 

Question (23002-18383): If a renovator removes less than six square feet of crown molding, is that considered demolition? Does it matter whether the molding will be discarded, replaced with new molding, or reinstalled?
  • Answer: It depends on how the molding is removed. If a renovation activity removes or otherwise disrupts a painted component in a way that destroys or ruins the component, the activity is a demolition. 

Question (23002-18515): If I use a hammer to make a hole is a wall that is two feet on each side, does the RRP Rule apply?
  • Answer: Yes. Although making the hole disrupts less than six square feet of painted surface, using a hammer to make the hole is demolition of the surface, so the minor repair and maintenance exception does not apply. Making the hole using a cut-out technique that does not destroy the section of the wall that is removed is not demolition, and the minor repair and maintenance exception would apply.

Question (23002-18381): If a renovator disrupts six square feet or less of painted surface per room in several rooms inside one property, does the RRP Rule apply?
  • Answer: No, as long as no prohibited work practices are used and the work does not involve window replacement or demolition of painted surfaces. The exception to the RRP rule for work that disrupts six square feet or less of painted surface applies to each individual room and is inclusive of all work done in the room in any 30-day period. 

Question (23002-32366): Please provide guidance on how the Agency will interpret the term “minor repair and maintenance activities.”
  • Answer: “Minor repair and maintenance” is defined in 40 CFR 745.83 as activities that disrupt less than 6 square feet or less of painted surface per room for interior activities or 20 square feet or less of painted surface for exterior activities where none of the work practices prohibited or restricted by § 745.85(a)(3) are used and where the work does not involve window replacement or demolition of painted surface areas. 
    • Even if an entire window measures less than six square feet, the replacement of any size window is a renovation, not minor repair and maintenance, because it is specifically excluded from the definition of “minor repair and maintenance.” 
    • Similarly, for example, because torch burning is prohibited by 745.85(a)(3), no activity involving torch burning can be considered minor repair and maintenance. 
    • For the purposes of the definition of 31 minor repair and maintenance, EPA considers demolition to be an activity that removes or otherwise disrupts a painted component in a way that destroys or ruins the component. 
    • The definition of “minor repair and maintenance” provides some guidance on how to measure the surface disrupted: 
      • “When removing painted components, or portions of painted components, the entire surface area removed is the amount of painted surface disturbed.”
      •  In other cases, when painted surfaces are being disturbed or disrupted, but not completely removed, the disrupted surface area is the area being actively disturbed. 
        • For example, when spot sanding to prepare a surface for painting, the area of the surface that was actually sanded is the surface area disrupted. 
    • Finally, the definition of “minor repair and maintenance” states that “jobs, other than emergency renovations, performed in the same room within the same 30 days must be considered the same job for the purpose of determining whether the job is a minor repair and maintenance activity.” 
      • Therefore, sanding five square feet of paint in the same room on two different days within the same 30-day period must be considered the same job, which would be a renovation because it does not meet the definition of “minor repair and maintenance.”

Monday, March 26, 2018

New Partner: Advanced Aquatic Training to Offer CPO Training


Fort Lauderdale, FL (March 26, 2018) -
Zack Academy (, a national provider of certification and training courses, announced today that it has partnered with Advanced Aquatic Training to expand its rapidly growing pool management category.

Based in Wellington, Florida, Advanced Aquatic Training offers Certified Pool Operator (CPO) Training in Boynton Beach, Florida. The course teaches individuals the basic knowledge and skills needed for pool and spa operations and is required in 25 states and several local jurisdictions.

"This partnership with Advanced Aquatic Training helps to expand our pool management training down through a massive market in southern Florida. We are excited to work with Advanced Aquatic Training’s CEO, Roberto Marquez, an accomplished entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in the pool industry," said Zachary Rose, founder and CEO of Zack Academy.

Zack Academy’s CPO training covers public bathing codes, water chemistry, filtration and circulation, seasonal pool care, pool management strategies and requirements, energy management, calculations and testing pool water and making adjustments, maintenance and operational problems, renovating and modernization of pool facilities, and disease and accident prevention.

About Advanced Aquatic Training:
Advanced Aquatic Training was founded in 2015 by Roberto Marquez, a bilingual Industrial Engineer with an MBA. In 2007, Roberto decided to move from his home country to Florida and started a landscaping company. With hard work and dedication he was able to grow the business and find success. During this process Roberto diversified his business and began to offer pool services as well. After 8 years of managing and operating his company, in 2015 he decided to pursue his passion for teaching and help others become successful.

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

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Nearly 500,000 Deaths Connected to Lead Contamination Yearly

According to a new study, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle and a CNN Report U.S. deaths may be 10 times higher than originally thought.

The new study tracked more than 14,000 adults over a period of 20 years and found that individuals with an initial blood concentration in the 90th percentile had a 37% increase in all-cause mortality. They also had a 70% increase in cardiovascular disease mortality compared to those with a blood lead concentration at the 10th percentile.

According to Dr. Bruce Lanphear, a professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University and a leading author of the study, "Nobody had even tried to estimate the number of deaths caused by lead exposure using a nationally representative sample of adults. But if we're underestimating the impact of lead exposure on cardiovascular disease mortality and other important outcomes beyond IQ, then it might have a big impact on the way we make investments in preventing lead poisoning exposure."

The article went on to say, "The researchers relied on a nationally representative sample of 14,289 adults ages 20 years and older who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1988 and 1994. The survey is administered by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every year. Of the initial 14,289 survey respondents, 4,422 had died by 2011. The researchers calculated that approximately 18% of those deaths could have been prevented by reducing blood lead concentrations to 1.0 micrograms per deciliter."

While many lead contamination issues stem from drinking water, it's still important for contractors and painters to remember their importance in lead mitigation. Even if the numbers mentioned above are off by 50% - which is unlikely - it's still a staggering number and should give contractors and painters pause when improperly handling lead paint. If you would like to remove lead paint you must complete a course in Lead Abatement. If you plan to perform any repairs, renovations, or painting on pre-1978 homes or child occupied facilities, you must become a certified Lead Renovator.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Top 10 Classes for Any Contractor With a Small Business

Top Classes for Contractors

If you're a contractor who owns their own business, being great at your trade is only half of the story when it comes to landing jobs. As a business owner, you are responsible for many different roles in your company, which means you must understand how to market, network, handle employees and keep your company up-to-date with new industry technology. Business owners that fail to hone these skills never stick out from the competition and thus, never maximize their potential profits or expand their clientele.

If this sounds like your business, don't worry - Zack Academy rounded up a list of small business training courses tailored to the needs of contractors. Most of these courses have online options with no prerequisites. These courses are great for building your skills - or even certifying you for more jobs in your trade.

  1. Lead Renovator Certification Initial (RRP Initial): This course certifies contractors to perform renovations, repairs or painting on housing or child-occupied facilities built before 1978. If you work in an area with older housing stock, you could potentially double your clientele by gaining this certification!
  2. Introduction to Digital Marketing Online: This online for beginner's teaches you how to integrate social media, blogging, and other online marketing platforms into your business. Because today's client often sees your company online before they see you in person, having a strong online presence can increase your visibility and your revenue.
  3. Leadership Essentials Online: This course teaches the interpersonal skills managers need in order to become reliable and respected leaders. If your company struggles with inconsistent expectations, a lack of unity, employee turnover, or a dissatisfaction between management and employees, your business needs this course.
  4. Web Development Online Anytime: When you own a small business, every dollar counts - so don't spend thousands of dollars for someone to build your company's website when you can do it yourself! This online course might sound intimidating if you have no experience with web design, but it allows students to learn at their own pace.
  5. Indoor Environmental Quality Consulting: This is an easy skill to add to your contractor business. This course will teach you the basics on identifying and remediating air quality concerns. This is especially great for home contractors as many homeowners are concerned about asthma and allergy irritants in their home.
  6. Introduction to Graphic Design Online Anytime: Custom graphics are another thing your business can save money on when you do it yourself. This course requires no experience - students will learn the basics at their own pace. This course can definitely teach contractors how to create their own logos, signs, banners and other branding images to promote their business.
  7. SEO Search Engine Optimization Certification Online Anytime: Learn how to get your business to the top of search engines such as Google - you'll increase your traffic and revenue.
  8. Microsoft Excel Online: Excel is one of those small business tools that can be incredibly useful but often scares away people who aren't familiar with using it. This course teaches students the basics of Excel which can be translated into invoices, time sheets, inventory lists, customer databases, flow charts, marketing forecasts, managing business expenses, and more.
  9. Onboarding New Employees Online Anytime: All business owners know the effort put into hiring new employees can be intense and costly. This course teaches managers how to quickly and efficiently integrate their new hires into their business and develop them into their role.
  10. FREE - Intro to LEED Accreditation Webinar: Leadership in Energy and Design (LEED) accreditation is a hot sell for many property developers, so adding this skill to your business can expand your clientele. This free online course gives an overview of LEED and how contractors can become LEED professionals. 
Small business training for contractors goes beyond your specific trade. Invest a little time in these simple courses and watch your small business grow.

To learn more about other small business training options, visit Zack Academy's Business Practices Training & Courses homepage.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

EPA Awards Clean-Bus Funding to Schools in 32 States

EPA Retrofits Buses

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded more than $8.7 million to replace or upgrade 452 diesel school buses in 32 states. Part of its Clean School Bus USA program, the new and improved buses will reduce pollutants and emissions.

The bus improvements are funded through rebates from the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). Districts replacing buses with outdated diesel engines will receive $15,000 to $20,000 per bus. For districts that choose to retrofit their buses, EPA will fund the cost of improvements up to $6,000 per bus.

"These rebates are an innovative way to improve air quality across the country and provide kids with safe, reliable transportation to and from school. Through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, EPA is equipping local school districts with cleaner-running school buses, helping them along the route to healthier kids and communities," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a recent press release.

Since 2003, DERA and the Clean School Bus program have worked together to make environmentally-friendlier school buses. Older diesel engines emit pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and other particulates which have been linked to respiratory illnesses such as asthma. DERA has funded more than 700 clean diesel projects nationwide and reduced toxic emissions in more than 70,000 engines.

"The National School Transportation Associate (NSTA) and private school bus contractors around the country congratulates EPA and those receiving rebate awards for the purchase or new clean vehicles and equipment. On behalf of private school bus companies serving school districts around the country, we have strongly supported the DERA program. It is another way we can provide the safest and cleanest form of transportation for our precious cargo of school children and for the communities they live in," NSTA President Blake Krapf said in a recent press release.

School districts in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas were among the recipients. To learn more about DERA, visit EPA's website. To learn more about environmental science and how to get involved in this field, visit Zack Academy's Environmental Science homepage.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Class Profile: Online MSHA Part 46 Refresher Training

online MSHA Part 46 refresher training AND Mining Training

Are you a surface miner? Do you perform construction or contractor services at a mine? Zack Academy recently launched an Online MSHA Part 46 Refresher Training course. This online course satisfies annual training requirements from MSHA - so if you're a mine worker who falls under Part 46 of MSHA Title 30, listen up!

The Online MSHA Part 46 Refresher Training course was developed with miners in mind. Because miners often work varied hours in remote locations, the course allows miners to work at their own pace wherever they are. In the end, miners earn the exact same certificate as someone who attends the in-person class.

Miners under MSHA Title 30, Part 46 are required to take a Part 46 MSHA course annually. Miners in this category are usually surface miners working with sand, gravel or limestone. Furthermore, anyone expecting to work at a mine and be exposed to hazards (such as constructors or contractors) must take MSHA training.

This is an annual refresher course - that means if you haven't received MSHA training in over a year or you have never received MSHA training, this course isn't for you.

The online course reviews important mining training topics such as emergency evacuation, first-aid, silica dust awareness and other hazards present in a mine. The course also informs miners about updates to legal requirements in the industry.

Students are granted 24/7 access to complete the modules in the course. The course satisfies the minimum credit hours toward the annual refresher training. Students who complete the course can also earn 0.8 IACET CEUs.

Considering this online option? Here are some tips:
  • Do have reliable access to a computer with high speed Internet. Devices such as cell phones and tablets can sometimes have difficulty displaying course content.
  • Don't wait until after your certificate expires to look into refresher training. Once it expires, you can't take a refresher course.
  • Do research this course and make sure you fall under Part 46; below-ground miners and coal miners are usually under Part 48.
  • Don't hesitate to call or chat with Zack Academy for more information about this course!
To learn more about mining safety requirements, visit MSHA.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

New Online NYC-Compliant OSHA Courses at Zack Academy

If you follow our blog you may have seen our October 2017 post about New York City’s Bill Intro 1447, which requires all construction workers to receive at least 40 hours of safety training by December 2018, 10 hours of which were to be completed by March 1, 2018. In other words, if you are a construction worker and have not yet completed your 10 hours of training then you could face a fine. The only exceptions are workers who have completed a 40-hour training in the past five years, or workers who have completed a 100-hour safety training course - often required by apprenticeship programs.

Lucky for our readers, Zack Academy recently launched one of the only fully online, on-demand set of OSHA courses approved by New York City! This state-of-the-art course utilizes easy to use voice technology, which requires students to call an 800 number every two hours to verify their voice. The courses are also significantly cheaper than in-person training, so that’s a major plus as well! Remember, in order to be NYC-compliant you must complete your training in-person or online from a New York City approved trainer.

Below we have provided links to all three online, NYC-compliant OSHA Construction Industry courses:

10-Hour ONLINE OSHA Construction English Training

10-Hour ONLINE OSHA Construction Spanish Course

30-Hour ONLINE OSHA Construction English Training

Please comment below with any questions!