Friday, July 31, 2015

Nearly 400 Northwest Buildings Compete in EPA’s “Battle of the Buildings”

EPA leads push for energy efficiency

Originally released by the US Environmental Protection Agency on July 21, 2015. EPA contact: Brianna Stoutenburgh, 206-553-1185

(Seattle - July 2015) Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the 2015 Energy Star Battle of the Buildings and nearly 400 competitors in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska have joined in to reduce their energy and water use. In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for businesses to cut waste and become 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020, the competition targets wasted energy in commercial buildings and motivates organizations to improve energy efficiency, reduce harmful carbon pollution and save money.

Energy efficiency competition reduces waste
“Congratulations to all of the competitors in this year’s Battle of the Buildings,” said Dennis McLerran, EPA Region 10 Administrator. “Every year competitors throughout the Northwest join the national challenge to reduce their water and energy usage. In this competition, everyone wins.”

In the only coast-to-coast competition of its kind, dozens of different types of buildings face off in each year’s Battle of the Buildings. The team challenge features groups of five or more buildings that will work together to reduce their collective energy use over the course of a year.



Competitors in Region 10 include:
  • Alaska: 17 buildings including multiple facilities from the NOAA National Weather Service, Kroger and the U.S. General Services Administration.
  • Idaho: 17 buildings including multiple facilities from the NOAA National Weather Service, Kroger and the U.S. General Services Administration.
  • Oregon: 118 buildings including multiple locations of Kaiser Permanente, Kroger and the NOAA National Weather Service.
  • Washington: 240 buildings including multiple Kroger locations, EnergyPrint, Union Bank and U.S. General Services Administration buildings.
An excel spreadsheet of competitors nationwide can be found at http://www.energystar.gov/buildings/about-us/how-can-we-help-you/communicate/energy-star-communications-toolkit/motivate-competition-8.

Competitors measure and track their energy and water consumption online using EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which is a tool to measure and track energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The team and individual buildings with the largest percent reductions over a 12-month performance period will be declared winners. More than 1,000 buildings are competing in a special water reduction category and will work with EPA’s WaterSense program to apply best practices for commercial building water management.

This is the sixth year EPA is hosting the Battle of the Buildings, and the competition and positive environmental impacts keep growing. Last year’s competitors saved a combined total of more than two billion kBtus of energy and an estimated $50 million on utility bills. More than 60 buildings in the competition demonstrated energy use reductions of 20 percent or greater over the course of the year.

Commercial buildings in the United States are responsible for 17 percent of the nation’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $175 billion annually. By improving the energy efficiency of the places Americans work, play, and learn, the competitors help save energy and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

ENERGY STAR is the simple choice for energy efficiency. For more than 20 years, people across America have looked to EPA’s ENERGY STAR program for guidance on saving energy, saving money, and protecting the environment. Behind each blue label is a product, building, or home that is independently certified to use less energy and cause fewer of the emissions that contribute to climate change. Join the millions already making a difference at energystar.gov.

More information on EPA’s Energy Star Battle of the Buildings competition: www.energystar.gov/BattleOfTheBuildings


Corporations are becoming more environmentally conscious! Grow your business by getting LEED certified to take advantage of the growing market for energy efficient buildings.

Landlord to Pay Rhode Island Tenant $350,000+ for Lead Poisoning

Historic verdict highlights dangers of lead


Originally released by the Childhood Lead Action Project, July 2015.  Contact: Laura Brion, (401) 785-1310, ext. 205.


Lead poisoning lawsuit leads to historic verdict

In a historic verdict announced last Friday, a Providence jury found Florida-based landlord Duncan Duff guilty of negligence in the 1998 lead poisoning of two-year-old Traecina Claiborne, now age 19. After a nearly two-week trial, the jury not only ordered Mr. Duff to compensate Ms. Claiborne for the pain and suffering caused by his failure to protect her from lead hazards at her Pawtucket apartment, but also imposed punitive damages in recognition of his reckless conduct. Including interest, the judgment comes to more than $350,000. This significant individual victory also has the potential to benefit the community as a whole, by inspiring other parents and tenants to take similar action, and by motivating landlords to comply with housing safety laws.

This strong verdict from the jury should serve to put local landlords on notice. Although the "profit over people" strategy of property management is sadly alive and well, victories like this show that the community is unwilling to allow exploitation and greed to win every time. Landlords who violate both the basic moral responsibility to provide their tenants with a safe environment as well as the laws that spell that concept out in specific detail are playing a game that they are more and more likely to lose.

We also hope that Ms. Claiborne's victory will encourage other tenants to take action - to assert their right to safe housing both individually and collectively, and to keep fighting to address the root causes of lead poisoning long-term. The Childhood Lead Action Project's members and staff know from personal experience how hard it can be to find the time and energy to stand up for your rights. We commend Traecina and her mother Wendy for their bravery and persistence in seeking justice through the courts, and for the inspiring example they set for all of us.

We heard many familiar echoes in Ms. Claiborne's testimony about how lead has affected her life. Sadly, her experiences exemplify the ugly reality that much of the decades-long burden of this preventable disease has been suffered by low-income families and people of color, perpetuated by existing wealth disparities and made worse by the disempowering forces of racism and and sexism. During the trial, we learned that Mr. Duff owned more than 100 properties in Pawtucket and Central Falls over the course of a career of buying, renting, and selling houses - so many that he was unable to recall the exact number in court. Years before Ms. Claiborne moved into the home where her blood lead level reached a shocking 51 mcg/dL, Mr. Duff had conducted step-by-step work to abate lead hazards at another rental property, guided by a comprehensive lead inspection and compliance monitoring process conducted by the Health Department. It is hard to imagine what other information or training could have been necessary to prepare or motivate him to protect future tenants from lead hazards. It appears to have simply been Mr. Duff's choice to ignore the facts, the law, and his own experiences.

Traecina Claiborne's victory is historic. Although settlements in similar cases are common, this is the only lead poisoning personal injury case we know of that has had a public trial in Rhode Island in the last two decades, if not longer. However, it is equally important to recognize that the legal system was not able to truly provide Traecina with justice. There is nothing the court can do to fix her cognitive impairments and eliminate the challenges she lives with every day. Likewise, this case serves as a reminder that justice for our community as a whole also requires looking beyond the current limitations of the law. It is painfully clear that the pervasive, dysfunctional dynamics of poverty, racism, and sexism will continue to poison more children like Traecina Claiborne until these systems are stopped. Despite the uphill battle ahead, when families like the Claibornes fight back and demand public accountability from those responsible their suffering, they make the longer-term fight to achieve a better society seem both more possible - and more urgent.
To read more, visit Motley Rice.


Landlords - avoid EPA fines! Stock up on the "Protect Your Family From Lead" pamphlets and disclosure forms to comply with the EPA Lead-based Paint Disclosure Rule.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Sustainable Design forms Backbone of Boston Community

Sustainable community developing in Boston, Mass.


While green architecture is, by its very nature, good for the environment, its other benefits are becoming widely recognized as property owners and tenants increasingly ask for sustainable design. Green buildings have lower energy costs, for example, since they conserve water and energy, making them profitable for owners and cost-effective for tenants. New buildings, however, are drawing attention not just for their financial benefits but also for their potential to improve a community and anchor a way of life.


The potential for a community centered around sustainable design is clear in Allston, a neighborhood of Boston that until recently was not known for much more than its cheap bars. The neighborhood’s reputation started changing when a local developer began to build in the area using green architecture; former mayor Thomas Menino was inspired to create the Allston Green District, two blocks that form an utterly unique new part of Boston.


Sustainable design is in increasing demand
Green architecture is in increasing demand in Boston and across the U.S.
The District will be populated entirely by environmentally friendly buildings, bringing a wealth of new jobs to contractors in the area who are certified in sustainable design. Architects are inspired by the challenge of creating buildings that are both sustainable and beautiful, while new arrivals to the area are drawn to the new buildings as representative of an entire green lifestyle. Residents sign a Green Declaration and commit to recycling, using reusable bottles, and taking public transportation whenever possible – and far from being a burden, it’s the emphasis on environmentally conscious lifestyles that’s building excitement and transforming the neighborhood.


Property owners in Allston are as happy as their tenants about sustainable architecture, and benefit from a way of doing business that’s both responsible and profitable. Owners appreciate a project that has a clear social benefit while staying cost-effective; many share the same values as their tenants and welcome the chance to support a LEED certified building. As the area becomes more accessible by public transportation and more easy to navigate by foot, the appeal of incorporating sustainable design into a community will continue to grow.


Massachusetts has been moving toward more sustainable design for some time, and the new Green District is likely to be the first of many spaces focused on green architecture. As customers ask for high quality environmentally friendly design, contractors who have passed the LEED certification exam will be in increasing demand, and being able to fill the ever-growing need for sustainable architecture will be both profitable and rewarding.


Learn more about designing and developing green building and sustainable communities!

Created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as a voluntary, consensus-based, and quantifiable rating system for green building, LEED has become the most widely recognized green building rating system in the world.

LEED Exam Prep is the best way to make sure you pass the challenging LEED certification exams on your first try. With GreenEDU, you will learn from the LEED instructors through simple to follow educational materials, excellent presentations, and real-world examples that will help you understand the complex concepts. We offer a number of courses, so visit our website to sign up today for the course that best fits your needs or call our office at 646-564-3546 and one of our team members will be happy to assist you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Property Managers to Pay Large Penalty In EPA Lead Paint Disclosures Claim

Hartford, CT Property Management Companies Settle for $48,000 with EPA for Lead Paint Disclosure Lapses

Originally released by the US Environmental Protection Agency on July 21, 2015.
EPA Contact: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017


Pre-1978 rental properties must give out lead paint disclosure forms.
Rego Realty Corp. and six associated property-owning companies, and one individual, will pay a penalty to settle EPA claims that they failed to follow federal lead-based paint disclosure requirements when renting nineteen housing units in Hartford, Conn.

Under the settlement, Rego Realty Corp., along with Mancora LLC, Mochica LLC, Nazca LLC, Paracas LLC, Rosario LLC, and Stephanie LLC (all of which are affiliated corporate entities headquartered in Hartford), and an individual owner of a residential unit managed by Rego, will pay a $48,000 penalty and provide documentation of their compliance with the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act and the Lead-based Paint Disclosure Rule.

The Disclosure Rule requires owners/managers of rental properties to provide prospective renters both with general information about lead-based paint risks and to provide specific information on whether or not there is known lead-based paint in a rental unit prior to the individual signing a lease. By fully disclosing the required information, individuals can make an informed decision about whether to lease a particular property. The settlement also requires the settling companies’ staff who either renovate, repair or do painting in residential units that may have lead-based paint be properly trained as Certified Renovators to prevent releasing uncontrolled lead paint dust/debris during their work. Both requirements are intended to protect people, especially children, from exposure to lead.

The settlement resolves EPA allegations that Rego and the property owners violated the federal Toxic Substance Control Act when they failed to provide tenants with lead-based paint disclosure information at 19 rental units they rented between Jan. 2011 and Jan. 2013 in Hartford. Overall, the companies provide about 600 rental units of housing around Hartford, much of which was built before 1978 when lead-based paints were still being used on residential properties. The properties involved in this settlement are located on Adelaide, Buckingham, Congress, Elliott, Hudson, Lincoln, Park, Wadsworth, Garden, and Winter Streets, Allen Place, and Wethersfield Avenue in Hartford.

Under Federal laws, owners and managers of residential properties built before 1978 must provide prospective tenants notice about lead-based paint prior to signing a lease. They must also ensure that any staff or contractors who do renovation, repair, or repainting in pre-1978 housing are trained and certified in lead-safe work practices.

Exposure to lead is especially dangerous for infants and children, and can cause lowered intelligence, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavior problems. Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nervous system disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain.

Landlords - avoid EPA fines! Stock up on the "Protect Your Family From Lead" pamphlets and disclosure forms to comply with the EPA Lead-based Paint Disclosure Rule.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Study Finds New Dangers of Lead Exposure

Lead exposure during pregnancy can affect infants’ brain development.


Lead exposure can cause lifelong damage.
Protecting children from lead exposure should start even
before birth.
Photo from tiptimes.com. 
The dangers of lead exposure are widely recognized: lead poisoning can damage the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and more and can cause learning disorders in children. A recent study adds another danger to this list: pregnant women exposed to lead give birth to children who score lower on tests measuring brain development. While adults, even pregnant women, are typically less susceptible to the effects of lead exposure than children are, this finding reveals that even a small amount of lead can lead to worrying results.

The study’s findings are worrying, since the long-term effects of lead exposure on children are widely documented. While there has been minimal research on newborns, lead poisoning during childhood is proven to cause long-lasting hardship for those affected. A Boston-based study, for example, found that “childhood lead exposure may have a persistent and irreversible effect” and confirmed that even slight exposure to lead may cause decreased IQ, trouble in school, and difficulty finding a job later in life. Other risks include risky or delinquent behavior during adolescence and even criminal behavior as an adult.


Because of the serious risks associated with lead exposure, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees regulations around lead abatement and lead-safe renovations to minimize the danger to children as well as adults. While lead can occasionally be found in food, the primary source of lead in the United States is old lead paint, which can be released during construction and then inhaled or consumed. Children or pregnant women who spend time near a construction site that includes lead paint are placed at great risk. Construction workers can also create a risk for themselves and their families, by bringing home this lead dust on their work clothes. The EPA’s lead-safe regulations provide guidelines to create a safe environment for tenants and workers, preventing lead poisoning.


While the effects of lead exposure may not be immediately obvious, this study’s findings highlight the importance of taking lead exposure – and lead abatement – seriously. As lead paint was banned in the US in 1978, homeowners and tenants in pre-1978 residences should take extra precautions. All renovation or painting work should be performed by someone who has been trained and certified in lead-safe work practices. Here are additional steps from the CDC to prevent lead poisoning:
  • Have your home tested for lead paint
  • Children or pregnant women should not be present during a renovation of a pre-1978 home
  • Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint
  • Regularly clean floors and windows with a wet cloth to remove household dust
  • Regularly wash children’s hands and toys
  • Avoid using traditional folk medicine and cosmetics that may contain lead
  • Avoid giving the child candies imported from Mexico
  • Check to make sure you dishes and storage containers are labeled lead-free
  • Remove recalled toys and toy jewelry immediately from children

Landlords, Renovators, Painters, Installers, Contractors: Do your part to prevent child lead poisoning - get EPA Lead Certified before performing any work on pre-1978 homes.



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Asbestos Exposure Threatens U.S. Children

Asbestos found in children’s toys highlights the importance of asbestos awareness.


While asbestos is commonly recognized as a danger in construction and older buildings, a new report from the Environmental Working Group Action Fund found it in a much more unusual setting: toy store shelves. The report, published by the nonprofit on July 8, 2015, found asbestos fibers in four brands of crayons and two children’s fingerprinting kits – 12% total of all brands tested. While the toy boxes promise fun and excitement with familiar characters such as Mickey Mouse, the reality of what they contain is sobering, as families who buy them unwittingly put their children in danger.


Asbestos has been recognized as a health and safety risk for nearly a century, with scientists and doctors citing lung disease and cancer even after brief exposure. Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, affects the lungs, the stomach, and the heart. The asbestos exposure that causes mesothelioma risk is sometimes indirect: even washing the clothes of a family member who’s been exposed to asbestos can still increase risk of the disease. Asbestos exposure can also cause lung cancer and other health problems. Because of the well-documented health and safety risks of asbestos, there are strict rules regulating construction in environments that contain asbestos, in an attempt to keep families and workers safe.

Asbestos found in crayons highlights the importance of asbestos removal
Asbestos is a serious health threat, and the recent discovery of asbestos in crayons is sparking concerns about its prevalence.

While there are regulations on construction, however, asbestos fibers are not prohibited in children’s toys and asbestos testing is rare. While the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission justifies this by describing asbestos fibers as embedded in the wax of the crayons and unlikely to escape, they neglect to consider the very real risk of children eating the crayons – and the asbestos within them. This failure to ensure asbestos removal puts lives at risk: Dr. Philip Landrigan, professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, explains that “Asbestos in toys poses an unacceptable risk to children.”


The report’s findings underscore the importance of enforcing a thorough system of asbestos testing and removal, especially when working around vulnerable populations. Richard Lemen, a retired surgeon general, described the prevalence of asbestos as “a breakdown in the system that is set up to protect the American public, specifically American children.” The presence of such dangerous fibers in children’s toys sharply underscores the importance of protecting children and adults alike from asbestos exposure.


While crayons and toys carry an obvious risk of exposure – young children will, after all, put almost anything in their mouths – it’s just as risky to live and work in a building that contains asbestos. The Environmental Working Group Action Fund’s report serves as a reminder of the risks of asbestos exposure, but also as an indication of where improvement is needed most. While toy store shelves may not be reliable, buildings containing asbestos are relatively safe thanks to strict rules that regulate construction. By using high-quality asbestos testing and removal techniques, contractors and workers can ensure that they protect themselves and those around them.

Quality asbestos removal is in urgent demand – get certified to safely work with asbestos and permanently remove this hazard from our communities.

Monday, July 6, 2015

New Mold Removal Law in New York To Require Licensing for Contractors


The new law will be administered by the New York Department of Labor and is scheduled to go into effect at the end of the year.

Mold remediation requires good supplies and good training.
For mold remediation, it’s not enough just to have the right supplies: you need high-quality training to fight off mold and mold symptoms once and for all.

Did you know inappropriate or inadequate mold remediation can lead to a felony conviction? With the risks – both legal and health-related – that come with working in a moldy environment, it’s important to be fully prepared. At the end of the year, the New York Department of Labor’s new legislation on mold removal will go into effect, introducing new regulations focused on keeping workers and families safe.

The new regulations for mold remediation certification are more stringent than the previous ones, ensuring that mold removal is done thoroughly and safely. The law’s emphasis on thorough training and a comprehensive work plan is designed to protect populations who are especially vulnerable to mold and to ensure that working conditions are safe for construction workers.

Mold remediation is important because the dangers of mold are widely recognized, and can severely impact quality of life. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention explains that living or working in a building with a mold problem can lead to a range of symptoms, including nasal stuffiness or throat irritation. While these mold symptoms may seem no worse than a mild cold, more intense symptoms include wheezing, eye irritation, or even skin irritation. Mold is especially dangerous to people with compromised lungs or immune systems such as young children, who are at risk for developing asthma if they are exposed to mold at an early age.

The law takes these dangers into account, and provides a compelling justification for increasing regulations. It’s not unusual for the need for mold remediation to increase after harsh weather, and in this law the authors point out that “Several months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged parts of New York with massive flooding, there is an increasing public health risk associated with mold growth in residential and commercial buildings.” While Hurricane Sandy arrived over two years ago, the storm’s impact is still present: the already-present risk to vulnerable populations became more serious as mold symptoms increased in previously flooded buildings.

Because of the health risks, the new law mandates that any contractor who is going to engage in mold assessment or mold remediation services must first obtain a license. The law lays out clear instructions for obtaining the license, as well as exceptions to the licensing law: residential property owners, for example, can perform mold assessment on their own property without a license. It also specifies mandated communication between contractors and property owners, so that everyone involved in mold remediation understands the process and can help it move smoothly. The law can be found in full on the New York Senate’s legislative website.

With the risk of severe mold symptoms increasing after Hurricane Sandy, it is important that anyone working in mold remediation takes time to understand the reasoning behind this new law. Proper mold removal may take time, but ensuring that it’s done correctly can make a difference in a child’s health and quality of life.

Protect your clients from health threats, and your company from legal issues: find a mold certification course that fits your needs!