Friday, October 30, 2015

EPA Settlements Help Protect Public Against Health Hazards from Lead Exposure

75 actions announced related to the EPA's Lead RRP Rule

Originally released by the US Environmental Protection Agency on October 22, 2015. EPA Contact: Julia p. Valentine, 202-564-2663.

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced 75 enforcement actions from the past year that require renovation contractors and training providers to protect people from harmful exposure to lead dust and debris, as required by EPA’s Lead-based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) regulations.

Seventy-five settlements were filed from October 2014 through September 2015 for renovations performed on pre-1978 homes and child-care facilities, and each requires that the alleged violator certify its compliance with RRP regulations to EPA and, in most cases, pay civil penalties to resolve the alleged violations. The violations cited in the settlements reflect EPA’s goal to reduce illegal and unsafe renovations, and the lead hazards risks that result from them.

“Ensuring that lead-based paint is properly removed and handled helps protect children’s health when repairs or renovations are performed in older housing, particularly where kids live” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “These cases show that EPA is serious about making sure companies that break the law are held accountable when they undercut responsible businesses and put public health at risk.”

In three of the settlements, entities agreed to fund voluntary lead abatement projects, which require removal of lead-based paint and post-construction testing to ensure that no hazardous conditions remain. Each of the projects is expected to cost at least $20,000 to complete.

Approximately two-thirds of the cases involved failure to obtain EPA certification prior to conducting renovations. The cases reflect an increased focus on ensuring that firms and renovators comply with lead-safe work practices intended to protect children and others from exposure to lead dust. More than half of the cases cited violations of work practice standards and other requirements that directly affect how work is performed.

Lead dust and debris from improper renovation activities on properties built prior to 1978 is a major source of lead exposure that can cause lead poisoning. Although using lead-based paint in dwellings was prohibited after 1978, it is still present in more than 30 million homes across the nation, in all types of communities. The RRP Rule provides important protections for children and others vulnerable to lead exposure. Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia. In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.

The RRP Rule, which is part of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, is intended to ensure that owners and occupants of pre-1978 “target housing” and “child-occupied facilities” receive information on lead-based paint hazards before renovations begin, that individuals performing such renovations are properly trained and certified, and that renovators and workers follow specific lead-safe work practices during renovations to reduce the potential for exposure to lead.

The penalties in the settlements address the cited violations. Enforcement penalties also help deter other violations, and level the playing field for companies that follow the law. These fines help eliminate the financial advantage a violator may get by underbidding competitors that are compliant.

Contractors that are certified under EPA’s RRP regulations are encouraged to display EPA’s “Lead-Safe” logo on worker’s uniforms, signs, websites, and other material, as appropriate. Consumers can protect themselves by looking for the logo before hiring a home contractor, and by being generally aware of whether a renovator is following lead-safe work practices when working on their property. Those practices, such as what a renovator must do to minimize lead dust dispersion, are outlined in EPA’s Renovate Right lead hazard information pamphlet, available here.

Renovators are required to give the pamphlet to property owners and occupants within 60 days before starting any renovation.

In the following settlements, the companies paid civil penalties in excess of $25,000, respectively:
  • Garden Homes Management, Corp. (CT) paid a penalty of $54,644, and will perform a window replacement supplemental environmental project valued at $20,000 for violating certification, firm responsibility, information distribution, and recordkeeping requirements; and violating Lead-based Paint Disclosure Rule information distribution and disclosure requirements.
  • Blue Mountain Air, Inc. (CA) paid $51,030 as a penalty for violating firm certification, recordkeeping, and firm responsibility requirements.
  • Line Construction Company (KS) paid a fine of $33,642 to settle violations of firm certification, recordkeeping, and information distribution requirements.
  • The Whalley Glass Company (CT) paid a $31,286 penalty for violating firm certification, firm responsibility, information distribution, and recordkeeping requirements.
  • William DeMarse, d/b/a Bill DeMarse Professional Painting (MI) paid a fine of $28,545 for non-compliance with firm certification, work practice, and firm responsibility requirements.
  • Cardo Windows, Inc. (NJ) settled, paying a fine of $27,000 for failing to comply with information distribution and recordkeeping requirements.

In each of the following cases, EPA recovered more than $20,000 in a combination of penalties and a Supplemental Environmental Project:
  • RDF Inc. d/b/a Paul Davis Restoration (NE) will perform a supplemental environmental project valued at $27,304, in addition to paying a penalty of $3,033, for failure to comply with firm responsibility, recordkeeping, information distribution, and work practice requirements.
  • Bordner Installation Group, Inc. (MO) will undertake a supplemental environmental project valued at $20,000 and pay a penalty of $2,198 for violating recordkeeping and information distribution rules.

In the following settlements, companies paid civil penalties in excess of $10,000, respectively:
  • Scherrer Engineering and Construction, Inc. (WV) paid $22,500 as a penalty for violating requirements for firm certification, information distribution, firm responsibility, and work practice standards.
  • Colossal Contractors, Inc. (MD) paid a $21,196 penalty for failing to comply with information distribution, recordkeeping and work practice requirements.
  • JSH Home Improvements, LLC (PA) paid $19,096 as a penalty for non-compliance with firm certification, firm responsibility, information distribution, recordkeeping, and work practice requirements.
  • Blue Door Painters, Inc. (VA) paid a penalty of $18,000 for failing to comply with standards for work practices, firm responsibility, information distribution, and recordkeeping.
  • Envirotech, Inc. (MO) paid a penalty of $14,024 for failing to comply with information distribution, work practice, and firm responsibility requirements.
  • Blue Springs Siding and Windows, LLC (MO) paid $13,566 for non-compliance with firm certification and recordkeeping requirements.
  • AAPCP LC (VA) settled, paying a fine of $12,800 to settle information distribution violations.
  • Pella Windows & Doors (MO) settled with a fine of $12,558 for violating firm certification and recordkeeping requirements.
  • Damage Control & Restoration, Inc. (KS) $12,194 for non-compliance with information distribution and recordkeeping obligations.
  • Whitney Management & Maintenance Co. (CT) paid a penalty of $10,285 for failing to comply with firm certification, information distribution, firm responsibility and recordkeeping requirements.

The EPA can fine companies up to $37,500 per day for violations of lead regulations. Landlords, Renovators, Painters, Installers, Contractors: avoid fines and get EPA Lead Certified before performing any work on pre-1978 homes. Recordkeeping issues is one of the most common violations that often results in large fines. Make sure you have your project paperwork in order by utilizing an RRP Project Binder.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Green Homes Fetch Higher Prices

Buyers pay more for green design

Sustainable design is in growing demand.
A D.C.-based study affirms the value of green design.
As environmental awareness grows and concerns about climate change are increasingly common, consumer are becoming more and more interested in their lifestyles’ global effects. This interest is manifesting in the growth of the green design industry, which allows consumers to ensure that their homes and workplaces use resources efficiently and avoid destruction of the natural world whenever possible. A recent study by the United States Green Building Council found that green construction is now a multi-billion dollar industry, sustaining thousands of families in the United States alone. This week, a new report by the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) confirmed this growth when it revealed that customers are willing to pay more for homes that are environmentally friendly.

The study analyzed real estate in Washington, D.C. and found that on average, homes marketed with environmentally friendly features sell for 3.46% more than homes that lack green features. Customers looking for smart energy use or sustainable materials value them so much that they’re willing to pay more, making the industry not only useful but valuable as well. The executive director of the IMT, Cliff Majersik, pointed out that this study confirms the profitability of green design. In a press release Majersik said that, ““Home sellers, realtors, and appraisers who are not factoring in energy efficiency when selling a home are leaving money on the table,” and would do well to emphasize green design in their work.

A commodity that’s already proven popular among students, green buildings - especially those that are LEED certified - benefit everyone involved in the housing market. Realtors find them easier to market, and buyers appreciate a home that is environmentally friendly. Energy-efficient features also save buyers money, meaning they’re willing to spend more to install them; contractors and construction workers who are certified to design and install these features then benefit from a widespread demand for their services.

As it highlights the popularity of environmentally friendly homes, the report also calls for action to keep improving the industry and ensure that its potential is realized. The report’s authors point out that  “to achieve more accurate HPH transactions, the market needs real estate professionals with knowledge of green building principles and practices. Otherwise, homeowners may miss out on significant value green features can add to their transactions.” Like realtors, contractors who ignore the benefits of green construction are missing out on a thriving market.

As green building drives the economy, demand for sustainable design and construction experts continues to grow. Get LEED accredited now or browse training courses on to build your skills!

Friday, October 23, 2015

EPA Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

Learn how to protect your home and family from lead.

Originally released by the US Environmental Protection Agency on October 22, 2015. EPA Contact: Roy Seneca, 215-814-5567.

PHILADELPHIA (October 23, 2015) -- Lead poisoning is the number one environmental health threat in the U.S. for children ages 6 and younger.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has declared Oct. 25-31 Lead Poisoning Prevention Week to make families more aware of the hazards of lead and lead-based paint in the home and in childcare facilities.  This year’s theme, “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future,” will focus on ways to reduce a child's exposure to lead and prevent its serious health effects.

You may have lead around your home without knowing it because you can’t see, taste, or smell lead.  Because it does not break down naturally, lead can remain a problem until it is removed.  Before we knew how harmful it could be, lead was used in paint, gasoline, water pipes, and many other products.  Now that we know the dangers of lead, house paint is almost lead-free, leaded gasoline has been phased out, and household plumbing is no longer made with lead materials. 

EPA has taken regulatory steps aimed at preventing lead poisoning.  Under the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP), contractors, landlords, window replacement firms and other trades performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, schools and other child-occupied facilities built before 1978 must be certified and must follow Lead Safe work practices, and provide the EPA informational booklet “Protecting Your Home from the Hazards of Lead-based Paint” prior to the start of work practices to prevent lead contamination. 

The RRP rule does not apply to individuals doing work on their own home.  However, EPA recommends that Lead-Safe work-practices be followed for these projects, as well.

Currently, owners of residential rental properties built before 1978 must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect.  Leases must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint.  

Sellers of properties built before 1978 must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before selling a house.  Sales contracts must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint.  Buyers have up to 10 days to check for lead hazards.                                                                         
How does lead affect a child’s health?  The long-term effects of lead in a child can be severe. They include learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing, and even brain damage.  If caught early, these effects can be limited by reducing exposure to lead or by medical treatment.  Pregnant women should avoid exposure to lead because lead can pass through a woman’s body into the unborn baby. 

The good news is there are simple things you can do to help protect your families.

1.  Get your child tested.  Even children who appear healthy may have high levels of lead You can’t tell if a child has lead poisoning unless you have him or her tested.  A blood test takes only 10 minutes, and results should be ready within a week.  Blood tests are usually recommended for children at ages one and two.  To find out where to have your child tested, call your doctor or local health clinic.  They can explain what the test results mean, and if more testing will be needed.

2.  Keep it clean.  Ordinary dust and dirt may contain lead.  Children can swallow lead or breathe lead contaminated dust if they play in dust or dirt and then put their fingers or toys in their mouths, or if they eat without washing their hands first.  Keep the areas where your children play as dust-free and clean as possible.  Wash pacifiers and bottles after they fall on the floor.  Keep extras handy.  Clean floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces weekly.  Use a mop, sponge, or paper towel with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead.  Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty and dusty areas.  Wash toys and stuffed animals regularly.  Make sure your children wash their hands before meals, nap time, and bedtime.
Get certified for safe lead renovation.
Older houses are especially likely to contain risky lead paint.

3.  Reduce the risk from lead paint.  Most homes built before 1978 contain leaded paint. This paint could be on window frames, walls, the outside of your house, or other surfaces.  Tiny pieces of peeling or chipping paint are dangerous if eaten.  Lead paint in good condition is not usually a problem except in places where painted surfaces rub against each other and create dust. (For example, when you open a window, the painted surfaces rub against each other.)  Make sure your child does not chew on anything covered with lead paint, such as painted window sills, cribs, or playpens.  Don’t burn painted wood, it may contain lead.

4. Don’t remove lead paint yourself.  Lead dust from repairs or renovations of older buildings can remain in the building long after the work is completed. Hire a person with special training for correcting lead paint problems to remove lead paint from your home, someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. 

5.  Eat right.  A child who gets enough iron and calcium will absorb less lead.  Foods rich in iron include eggs, lean red meat, and beans.  Dairy products are high in calcium.  Don’t store food or liquid in lead crystal glassware or imported or old pottery.  If you reuse plastic bags to store or carry food, keep the printing on the outside of the bag.

Lead is dangerous to children and families! 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.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Report Identifies Greenest Cities in America

Highlights growth of green energy and construction jobs

LEED work helps put cities on top.
A new report reveals just how central green infrastructure is in the U.S.
A new report has identified the greenest cities in America, and while it’s no surprise that New York City – with its widely used public transportation – is #1, the rest of the list reveals an exciting trend. The report, which used metrics including “Greenness of Energy Sources” and “Green Lifestyle,” shows just how many cities are moving forward on these metrics and making efforts to improve holistically; it also shows how much farther some cities have to go. For anyone in the green construction industry, it’s a reminder of the importance of green design work and a call to action to keep improving cities across America.

The report, which includes an interactive map, affirms what industry leaders have long identified as growing trends; across the nation, governments and companies are clamoring for environmentally friendly services. The top cities – which also include Portland, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. – are among those that drive the multi-billion dollar green construction industry. Expert John Katers, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Natural and Applied Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, reminds readers that “you see many cities taking action on a range of things such as zero waste initiatives, green buildings (LEED certification), investments in renewable energy systems, improving transportation infrastructure,” and more. As students, professionals, and retirees request green environments, construction and design professionals are meeting the demand and helping cities carry out these initiatives.

The report also serves as a call to action with its analysis of the least green cities in the country. High-scoring cities had 49 times as much green space as low-scoring cities, for example, and triple the amount of bike usage. These gaps stem from infrastructure differences in the cities, and reveal the importance of green design (like LEED) in creating environmentally friendly spaces. As these cities keep growing and join the movement toward green structures, they’ll need designers, architects, and construction workers familiar with green design and construction to bring them into the future.

Green design and construction continues to gain importance in the U.S.; stay on the cutting-edge with our LEED and energy efficiency training options.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

News Release: EPA Enforcement Settlement to Benefit KCMO Youth Center

Settlement with Home Renovation Company to Benefit Kansas City, Mo., Youth Education Center

Originally released by the US Environmental Protection Agency on October 2, 2015. EPA Contact: Angela Brees, 913-551-7940.

EPA Region 7 has filed a settlement with Bordner Installation Group, Inc., that includes a $19,782 Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to benefit a youth education facility in Kansas City, Mo. 
An EPA record-keeping inspection revealed Bordner, a home renovation company, violated the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule, resulting in a $21,980 penalty. About $2,200 of the civil penalty will be paid as cash to the United States. The remaining funds will be used for lead-based paint abatement of an education center at Grace United Community Ministries, Kansas City, Mo. 
The SEP requires Bordner to replace 28 windows at Grace United, which is expected to remove a significant amount of lead-based paint in the facility. The Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule seeks to reduce lead exposure from toxic lead dust that can be disturbed during renovations and repairs. The rule regulates lead-based paint activities, including renovation of residences built prior to 1978, and the certification of individuals and firms who are involved in these activities. 
EPA's recordkeeping inspection of Bordner revealed that the company failed to provide owners of homes built prior to 1978 with an EPA-approved lead information pamphlet prior to beginning work, and failed to retain records demonstrating compliance with RRP Rule requirements for lead safe work practices.

Lead exposure can cause a range of adverse health effects, from behavioral disorders and learning disabilities to seizures and death, putting young children at the greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing. Today at least 4 million households have children who are being exposed to high levels of lead.  

There are approximately half-a-million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which the Centers for Disease Control recommends public health actions be initiated.

Violating EPA regulations, even unintentionally, can result in fines of up to $37,500 per day. Protect your company by using the Lead-Safe RRP Project Binder on every RRP job to ensure that you're ready for an EPA record-keeping audit.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Green Construction is a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

New study finds massive economic impact of LEED® and green design

A groundbreaking new study commissioned by the United States Green Building Council has affirmed once and for all that green building is a key part of a growing economy. Among its compelling details, the study reveals that by 2018 the green construction industry will contribute over $75 billion in wages. On a larger scale, LEED alone will contribute $29.8 billion to the Gross Domestic Product by that time - meaning the industry and the nation will benefit.

LEED projects already supported 1 million jobs in 2014 alone; contractors across the country have long been aware of a LEED certification’s potential to bring in high-paying clients. The report highlights “economic and social benefits to owners and occupants, incentive utility program benefits, decreased lifecycle costs, and increased asset value [as] reasons that companies and individuals will continue to choose to build LEED-certified buildings,” and points out that state and national governments are especially likely to choose LEED certified contractors. Projections of spending for the coming years indicate that the field will only become more profitable as it grows.

LEED and green design boost individual companies and the nation as a whole.
Getting LEED certified can earn you more money each year.
Investors and property owners especially look for green buildings, particularly LEED certified buildings, that are good for the environment; the report shows that not only do these projects conserve resources, but those savings translate to economic savings as well. In the next three years, LEED certified projects alone are projected to create over $1 billion in energy savings, nearly $150 million in water savings, and millions more in maintenance and waste savings. These savings benefit everyone involved; property owners appreciate lower yearly costs, consumers are thrilled to reduce their environmental impact, and contractors who’ve kept up on certifications and special design or building skills find their services more in demand.

With this report, it’s clear that green building is no longer an up-and-coming industry: it is the heart of the construction field, making it crucial for contractors and workers to get with the times. The report includes an exciting description of the years ahead that will resonate with anyone in the field: “The future for the green industry is projected to see positive growth for years to come, with its influence reaching across the U.S. economy with significant environmental and social benefits being generated to protect the people and the planet. Our findings show that green building construction growth currently outpaces general construction and will continue to do so through 2018.”

As green building drives the economy, demand for sustainable design and construction experts continues to grow. Get LEED accredited now or browse training courses on to build your skills!

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