Healthy Building Programs
We have all seen the headlines: buildings closed due to bacterial outbreaks, chemical contamination, mold lurking behind walls. They are attention getters that play upon our fear of the unknown and how it may harm us. They can also be the source of significant delays and liabilities for those in the business of creating and managing our built environment. However, these same risks also present the opportunity to gain competitive advantage by successfully navigating around potential liabilities and enhancing value.
The Forensic Analytical Consulting Services Healthy Building Program is designed to help builders, property managers, and owners seize this opportunity by proactively managing the risks associated with some of the most common chemical, physical, and biological agents that can impact environmental health in buildings. The program aims to create value in three fundamental ways:
- Minimize Business Disruption. Implement measures to avoid the creation of environmental health problems and ensure that appropriate response plans are in place to quickly and effectively address problems that may arise.
- Support Conflict Resolution. Gather, organize and present robust data to support the correction of problems, document acceptability of environmental conditions, streamline recovery efforts and refute false claims.
- Enhance the Environmental Experience. Develop, document and promote efforts to create a more appealing and healthful environment for all stakeholders in the construction and management of buildings.
Each project presents its own unique set of concerns and opportunities which are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some of the most common issues addressed include: asbestos, lead, mold & moisture, indoor air quality, and water quality. Whatever the issues at play, the Healthy Building Program follows a 5-step pathway toward identifying, avoiding and resolving issues:
- Conduct a Risk Assessment to identify the primary agents and concerns to be addressed.
- Create a Hazard Control Plan which identifies specific action items and verification procedures.
- Provide Training & Education to ensure that critical stakeholders in the process are familiar with the measures in the Hazard Control Plan and why they are critical to project success.
- Be on-call for Emergency Response actions as needed to resolve problems that may arise.
- Perform Auditing & Verification to document that the measures in the Hazard Control Plan have been successfully implemented.
The modular and scalable design of the Healthy Building Program allows FACS to help support our clients as hazards, needs, and resource availability evolve over time.
Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a general term referring to the air quality within and around buildings and structures. In simple terms it is a subjective and objective assessment of the health and comfort of building occupants. A variety of pollutants can result in undesirable indoor air quality such as microbial agents (mold, bacteria), gases (volatile organic compounds, ozone), and particles and fibers. However, IAQ issues are seldom simple. IAQ, or the more inclusive term indoor environmental quality (IEQ), incorporates a complex interaction of pollutant sources, thermal comfort, ventilation, and occupant perceptions.
Problems can be related to synthetic building materials, a lack of ventilation, various outdoor sources, excessive moisture or humidity, temperature levels, and mold growth. Poor indoor air quality can result in a range of health symptoms from general discomfort or irritation, to allergies, to infections, to toxic reactions.
FACS takes a holistic approach to solving IAQ problems addressing not only the physical parameters through testing, monitoring and engineering but also the occupant factors. Occupant factors require attention to risk communication, team building, and dispute resolution. FACS also develops proactive IAQ management plans and monitoring to provide added value and to avoid the potential IAQ problems that can affect many buildings.
In recent years, the general public has become increasingly aware of the influence of the building sector (e.g. buildings and infrastructure) on the environment in which we live and in turn, the built environment’s effect on us. A movement has sprouted from this awareness, spawning new growth in the area of green or sustainable building practices. Definitions of green or sustainable building practices may vary, but in general, green building means balancing environmental responsibility with meeting the needs of our current generation and all future generations all the while creating comfortable, healthy buildings and communities in which to work and live.
Though certainly not the only group promoting green building and design, the US Green Building Council (USGBC), founded in 1993, has been at the forefront of the green building movement. The USGBC membership includes a variety of different industry sectors including product manufacturers, building owners, financial and insurance firms, trade associations, contractors and builders, nonprofit organizations, utilities, schools, and governments, all dedicated to the promotion and implementation of sustainable building practices. Shortly after its creation, the membership realized that in order to promote and create a sustainable building culture, a system would be needed to define and measure what would qualify as green building. From this grew what is now known as the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System®.
As an environmental consulting company and in line with our company’s mission of environmental stewardship and protection of the public health, FACS provides its clients many levels of support for the LEED process, in addition to any other environmental sustainable building programs that currently exist or may be developed in the future. FACS can provide required asbestos or PCB surveys, conduct ventilation measurements, provide building commissioning support, develop and support IAQ management plans, perform baseline IAQ sampling, and provide additional Indoor Environmental credit planning and services.
FACS provides key support for compliance with workplace safety and health and environmental health regulations at the Federal, State, and local levels. Most of the program development and industrial hygiene monitoring provided by FACS is driven to some extent by regulatory compliance. When a citation or inquiry comes to a client from a regulatory agency, FACS stands with our client to help the client respond quickly and professionally. FACS involvement carries the clout of respected professionals, certified in industrial hygiene, safety, lead, and indoor air quality. FACS is well respected by regulators and litigators, and we are a valuable part of each client’s regulatory compliance team.