Renovation projects can exponentially improve the value of a commercial building, and are often a necessary part of routine maintenance. Prior to considering a renovation project, building owners will begin with a trip to the city’s building code department to get an approval on any future remediation plans. Once that is done, many owners consider their “due diligence” to be complete. However, this is an extremely dangerous assumption. Even when state and local environmental regulations don’t exist, federal environmental regulations are still in place.
There are several things one should consider during renovation:
- Under the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, renovations in “child-occupied facilities” must undergo lead-based paint identification and procedures. What one may not know is that some industrial applications of lead-based paint are still used in modern day construction. If dust from this paint accumulates, the building will fall short of OSHA’S rules and regulations.
- Mercury is still present in wood flooring that was applied between 1960 to 1980. During this time, it was thought to be a vast improvement over the old wood floors. However, this type of installation has been linked to indoor air pollution. Tearing out these floors releases mercury particles that create a dangerous working condition to anyone within the building. Even if the flooring does not contain mercury, it is likely that the buildings fixtures do. Those must be identified and properly disposed of in order to reduce hazardous working conditions.
- The Clean Air Act, under the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Airborne Pollutants, requires that an asbestos survey must be performed prior to any demolition or renovation activity. There is no exception to this rule regardless of the buildings age. Property owners are subject to fines if they do not do their due diligence.
- Even new construction can contain hidden environmental hazards which can become a nightmare if they aren’t properly handled. Improperly disposed chemicals, hazardous materials accumulations inside building systems, and undiscovered mold growth are all possibilities in those listed above.