By Mallory Graves, GIS Associate
I mentioned to a colleague recently that working with GIS data for any environmental medium is like nailing Jell-O to a tree. While I cannot take credit for the Jell-O catchphrase, I can speak to its resonance in the business of utilizing GIS in stormwater management, where watershed boundaries change by the minute, point source locations may actually be streams, and visual assessments are acceptable forms of defining the common operating picture of a site as large as Disney Land. The integration of GIS data and spatial analysis offers a visual representation of complex phenomena as well as the ability to examine relationships between multiple layers of information in data-driven contexts that are constantly in flux.
Galbestos - Asbestos Containing Hazardous Material
It may be “Galbestos”. This is a process used from the late 1940s until 1979 which involved carbon steel that was galvanized, and while the zinc component was molten, asbestos felt was pressed into it. An asphalt layer was applied under pressure on top of the asbestos layer. A color coat is then applied on top, and this layer may or may not have asbestos in it. This material was used as a protection from metal corrosion and more commonly found on the east coast where weather more severely impacts metal with corrosion.
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are a mixture of individual chemicals which were widely used until their use was banned in the late 1970’s. PCBs are environmentally persistent and have a wide range of documented detrimental health effects impacting the neurological development of children. PCBs also impact the reproductive and immune system, are an endocrine disruptor, and a potential carcinogen. These chemicals are highly regulated by the US EPA under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA).
Businesses Required to Assess and Mitigate Risks to Workers
The phase in period for the new silica standard which took effect last June (2016) was scheduled to end on June 23, 2017 for the construction industry. However, Federal OSHA has delayed enforcement of the standard for three months to conduct additional industry outreach to provide further education and guidance.
To Point Count or Not to Point Count
When dealing with asbestos, we sometimes come across analytical results that can, at the least, make us question our knowledge regarding the applicable regulations we as consultants pour over looking for answers regarding compliance.
Recently, questions have been posed regarding the proper procedures when dealing with materials with trace amounts (< 1%) of asbestos detected by laboratory analysis.
When a laboratory reports a material as < 1%, you have one of two options: 1) treat the material as positive (> 1%) and adhere to all applicable federal, state and local regulations; or 2) perform a more precise analysis which is called a “point count analysis” (1000 point analysis in California and 400 for the rest of the U.S.). If the results of this analysis differed from the PLM bulk analysis result, the point count result takes precedence.
To enter Midtown Manhattan at night via the Queensboro Bridge is as if arriving by spacecraft into the belly of a shimmering, glass encrusted starship. Iconic against the skyline is the Empire State Building, the spire glowing in the colors of the season. On a May night in 2012, the Empire State Building glowed green in honor of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) which championed deep energy retrofits to the building, saving 38% of building energy at an annual cost savings of $4.4 million. The child in me wondered, “Who is the poor guy responsible for changing all of those light bulbs?”
The US Department of Energy (DOE) defines a Zero Energy Building (ZEB) as one that produces enough renewable energy (electricity, fuel combustion) to meet its own annual energy consumption requirements. The building terms, “Net Zero Energy” (“NZE” or “net-zero”) and “Zero Net Energy” (ZNE) are synonymous and are broadly used in the industry.
ISO14001 was updated in 2015. ISO14001:2015 is the International Standard for an Environmental Management System and it is designed to help organizations develop a continual improvement approach to enhance business’ environmental performance. Already certified ISO14001 businesses have three years from publication date of September 15, 2015 to complete the transition to the new standard. Many organizations choose to transition early so that they can show increased value within their market and demonstrate a commitment to best practice to clients, community, and shareholders.
In older cities and highly developed areas, finding greenspace to develop new residential and commercial spaces is often a difficult challenge. But the adaptive reuse of former industrial and warehouse properties offers developers a unique architectural platform to repurpose an existing structure and bring life back into often vacant buildings or blighted areas.
While some environmental concerns with repurposed development of older properties (gasoline stations, dry cleaners, asbestos, and lead based paint) are well known, developers and owners of these properties can often run into lesser known environmental concerns that can cause significant delay to development and increase costs if not identified and mitigated properly during the acquisition and design phase of a project. Below are a few examples of environmental concerns typically found at older properties that can be identified during the due diligence and design phase of a project before a construction schedule is affected.
Federal OSHA recently issued a final rule covering silica which took effect June 23, 2016. The rule is intended to significantly reduce debilitating respiratory diseases related to occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The new rule mandates controlling exposure to respirable crystalline silica to below 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (μg/m3). This new permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 50% lower in the general industry and some 20% lower in the construction industry as compared with the previous PELs. By reducing the PEL so significantly, OSHA estimates that over 600 lives per year will be saved and that over 900 new cases of silicosis per year will be prevented (US Department of Labor 2016).