APC on Asbestos

From the APC History:

Nature of the Material

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral whose unique qualities have been recognized since ancient times.  It is resistant to fire and heat; strong, inorganic and nearly indestructible and has superb acoustical qualities.  Because it is a fibrous material easily worked and capable of being produced in a number of forms, its qualities have led to its use for a variety of building applications.  In modern times it has been used in over 3,000 building products for both commercial and residential applications, including insulating materials, floor tiles, siding and roofing materials in addition its fibers have been used as a reinforcing material in many other products.

Health Risks

By 1900 it was known that asbestos could also cause health problems including asbestosis, a lung disease, and mesothelioma, lung cancer.  Both are ultimately fatal and there is no known cure.  The concern is with airborne fibers as the route of entry to the body is through respiration.  The nature of the material is that, once disturbed, the fibers remain airborne for extended periods of time, increasing the risk of inhalation.  Although the risk comes from cumulative doses, even minute quantities have been proven to cause cancer.  The National Cancer Institute has listed asbestos as an occupational carcinogen and it is listed as a special waste by the EPA, OSHA and DOT.  During the late 1970’s and 1980’s, laws were promulgated at federal, state and even municipal levels to govern its use, handling and disposal.

Methods of Abatement

At present, there is not a requirement that asbestos be removed where it has been used as a building or insulating material unless it has been disturbed or will be disturbed as in renovation or demolition.  In schools and public buildings in Maine asbestos is required to be removed or contained if it is damaged and capable of releasing fibers to the air.

The three approved methods of asbestos abatement are encapsulation, where the asbestos is covered with a material, that will prevent its release to the air; enclosure, where the area containing asbestos is closed off to prevent contaminated air from mixing with uncontaminated air; and removal.  All methods are extensively governed by laws and regulations dealing with protective procedures for handling, storage and disposal and, in most states, licensing is required for those who handle it.  Licenses generally require extensive training and periodic refresher training.

The public health risk is generally perceived to be minimal and existing laws and regulations are aimed at occupational exposure where the risk is greatest.

Recognizing that legislation is now beginning to require similar handling of lead paint, Abatement Professionals embarked on an education and training program that has resulted in its licensing as a lead abatement contractor in Maine (none is presently required in New Hampshire) and is now doing lead encapsulation, enclosure and removal work throughout Maine and in Central and Northern New Hampshire.

Expert Energy Efficiency & Asbestos Remediation in Maine

The United States represents about 5% of the world’s population. Yet controls about 8% of the world’s energy resources and consumes 25% of the world’s energy supplies. Energy is a principal commodity of our society, amounting to about 9% of the U.S. Gross National Product (GNP). Today at least 70% of existing homes and 80% of new homes have air conditioners, televisions, stereos, computers, swimming pools, spas and all types of electrical gadgets that make American homes the most energy consumptive in the world! 

Residential Energy Audit Program – “Wise Energy Use”

There are two major approaches to wise use of energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation. Although very similar, they aren’t exactly the same. Energy efficiency is the most popular approach and focuses on maximizing the economic benefits of wise energy use (i.e. results in energy savings, buying a new ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator to replace your inefficient old one).

The energy-conservation approach focuses more narrowly on reducing non-renewable energy use and its resulting environmental damage.

Energy efficiency and energy-conservation share the following benefits: 

  • Efficiency of Use: more efficient homes and appliances give more comfort, service, and value.
  • Energy Security: Wasting less energy allows individuals, communities to become less dependent on energy and less vulnerable to price/supply changes.
  • Environmental Restoration: wasting less energy creates less environmental damage (footprint).
  • Sustainable Prosperity: wasting less energy preserves fossil fuels for future generations.

Why Bother??

There are four (4) major reasons to conduct a home energy audit which are: 

  1. Save Energy $$ by reducing heat loss and fuel consumption. 20% of U.S. consumed energy goes to residential/commercial space heat, 1/4 of that is wasted.
  2. Improve Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) by preventing mold/mildew/moisture, eliminate odors, and reduce respiratory ailments
  3. Promote Building Durability: the same conditions that lower IAQ can reduce building durability, longevity.
  4. Increase Comfort: eliminate drafts. No cold floors, no hot and/or cold rooms, no fogged windows.

What can you expect to be included in the audit, you ask? 

  • Identification of the type, size, condition, and rate of energy consumption for each major energy using device
  • Recommended appropriate energy conservation, operation, and maintenance procedures
  • Estimate labor and materials costs for energy retrofits
  • Project savings expected from energy retrofits
  • Note any current or potential health and safety problems and how they may be effected by proposed changes
  • Explain behavioral changes that will reduce energy waste
  • Provide a written record of decision which will answer these questions;
    • Simple Payback: how long before I break even on money spent?
    • Life Time Savings: what is my savings? The annual savings multiplied by the number of years the measure is expected to last
    • Life Cycle Costing: what will it cost me to do nothing? Compares the cost of acting with that of not acting
    • Annual Rate of Return: should I borrow money to make modifications, ARR calculates return on investment expressed as a percentage (%)
    • Savings to Investment Ratio: Do I buy stock or insulate the Attic? SIR typically required by Federal Funded Programs as taxpayer justification. Strengths; Lenders accept it and some require it, will prioritize measures to be taken

Know facility points of weaknesses 

Single-family homes points of weakness: A home’s energy weaknesses are usually concentrated around irregularities in its building shell. A building’s protrusions and indentations, with their increased seams and surface area, are particular problems at these known locations:

  • Porches
  • Roof Overhangs
  • Shafts containing chimneys and pipes
  • Protruding or indented windows and/or doors

Crawl spaces and basements connecting the home to outdoors: Outdoor & indoor air can mingle in cavities of a building shell, this can seriously reduce the effectiveness of insulation. Areas to watch for are:

  • Wall cavities partially or completely devoid of insulation
  • Suspended ceilings between floors
  • Attic and roof cavities
  • Concentrations of plumbing near kitchen and bathrooms
  • Concentrations of wiring near service panel box
  • Building Cavities used as ducts
  • Interconnecting spaces between floors, walls, and ceiling cavities

Mobile homes points of weakness: The below list details where air leaks and insulation flaws are most commonly found in mobile homes:

  • Joints and holes in forced-air distribution systems
  • Torn or missing belly paper/cloth
  • Joints between halves of double-section homes; around perimeter of each section, floor, walls, and ceilings
  • Plumbing penetrations in interior walls, exterior water heater closets, under bathtubs, behind washing machines, and under sinks
  • Joints between the main structure and building additions

Multifamily homes points of weakness: Irregularities on exteriors of multifamily buildings are potential sources for infiltrating and exfiltrating air.

  • Thermal bridging from steel and aluminum components
  • Protruding or recessed balconies, eaves, windows, and canopies
  • Roof protrusions and penetrations, such as rooftop elevator stacks and air handlers
  • Air intake and exhaust vents

Multifamily building’s horizontal cavities and vertical shafts are conduits for air leakage and mixing of indoor air and unconditioned outdoor air. These include:

  • Suspended ceilings
  • Supply ducts in floor and ceiling cavities
  • Building cavities utilized as heating/cooling return ducts
  • Elevator shafts
  • Plumbing shafts
  • Chimneys
  • Stairwells

The Energy Auditor

Inspects, tests and measures to decide what energy-efficient retrofits are practical and cost-effective.

Pineland News – Mold Abatement in Maine: ABATEMENT AND DEMOLITION

Synonyms for the word abatement include decrease, termination, mitigation and reduction. In the case of Abatement Professionals, owned and operated by President Robert W. Rickett, Jr, abatement means the removal of PCB’s, mercury vapor (found in old fluorescent lights), lead paint and “friable” (damaged) asbestos which can be found in heating systems, boiler systems, plaster, flooring systems, roofing and adhesives. Abatement Professionals has done work for many individuals and businesses, including the United States Postal Service, Verizon, the State of Maine, the City of Portland and Boulos Property Management. In all cases, the company provides a formal proposal which outlines the methods, timeframe and costs of the abatement project. As Bob said, “the informed client is an integral part of what we do.”

Robert W Rickett, President and Owner of Abatement Professionals in Portland believes  that the “people of Maine must be very pleased that Mr. Wells is keeping her (Betty Noyce’s) dream going.”

In preparing his report for Boulos Property Management on the abatement requirements of Libra Foundation’s Pineland property, Bob realized that he would need a demolition crew familiar with abatement issues to work hand-in-hand with his team because there was so much debris left in the buildings and all interior non-masonry walls were to be removed. Accordingly, he consulted with Portland Diversified Services, added the demolition costs into his proposal, and in their fourth such joint venture (one other being the State Office Building in Augusta), the two companies teamed up to complete the massive project. According to Bob, the work at Pineland was the “largest abatement job ever done in the state.”

As described by Vincent L Marcisso, Jr, President of Portland Diversified Services (PDS) the general procedure for each of the Pineland buildings was:

  • Abatement Professionals removed any loose or damaged hazardous materials-the “make safe” portion of the project.
  • Portland Diversified Services performed the pre-abatement work, which according to Vince, involved taking “everything out that wasn’t impacted by asbestos.” Because the company’s list of services includes both abatement and demolition, the PDS workers could recognize and avoid those areas.
  • Abatement Professionals completed the abatement of hazardous materials.
  • Portland Diversified Services went back in to remove the remaining non-hazardous debris.

Considering that there were as many as six buildings undergoing abatement and demolition at any given time, it is clear why both Bob and Vince recognize the enormous importance of teamwork in their successful effort, and each gives credit to the other for having been great to work with.

Throughout the process, Bob worked closely with the Department of Environmental Protection which had designated a contact specifically for the Pineland project. All of the hazardous materials removed by Abatement Professionals were transported to a landfill in Pennsylvania while the non-regulated construction debris went into an on-site pre-existing landfill. Included on the list of hazardous material is the special clothing that employees wear. Bob explained that each time a worker enters the building through the sealed entry areas, he must remove all street clothing before donning suits, boots, gloves and respirators.

Vince said that the original construction of most of the buildings was open, like this large Conference Hall room, but rooms were later divided. Over the years renovations “just put new over the old, so all those added to the materials that had to be removed.”

Prior to leaving the building, the worker must first be vacuumed while still clothed in the safety gear, then remove all the garments, shower and finally enter a clean room where he may put his street clothes back on. The suits and respirators are discarded, while the boots and gloves are removed for cleaning and subsequent reuse. Even though morning and afternoon breaks were combined with lunch, the crew of as many as 100 had to shower and change a minimum of twice per day. Combine this lengthy process and other safety procedures common to all such abatement projects with challenges specific to the Pineland buildings, and it is no wonder that Bob takes pride in the “tremendous feat that this project was done without the request for one change order or additional cost…with no lost time accidents” and a completion date just a few days past the tight 90-day schedule.

The different wall colors in the Staple’s Hall entry reveal one of the challenges faced by Abatement Professionals and Portland Diversified Services: there were layers of ceilings in many buildings, each with different material issues to handle. Bob Rickett explained that the oldest layer was plaster, then adhesive tiles, and then a suspended ceiling with electricity and plumbing passed through.

Vince is also pleased that “for the most part they were able to meet Boulos’ requirements in the time frame allotted”. He estimates that in those 90-plus days, his company removed approximately 20,000 yards of non-hazardous material, “enough to cover a football field 15 feet deep.” Vince adds that with 25 buildings to address in just 13 weeks, they had to complete at least two buildings per week – no small achievement when the average building size was 18,000 square feet. The “material handling and transport was also a job-and-a-half,” said Vince. The 30-yard capacity “roll off” trucks that transported the debris from the buildings to the on-site landfill, operated by Troiano Waste Services of South Portland, had to be carefully coordinated so that they were available when and where they were needed. Generally, the truck contents were emptied at the landfill each afternoon, and an excavator arranged the materials starting each morning. Sevee & Maher civil engineers helped determine how to best fit the materials into the landfill as authorized by the DEP. Because of careful management, daily on-site coordinating and great teamwork from all involved parties, ALL of the non-hazardous construction debris was fit into the landfill-a help in keeping costs down, as Bob Rickett notes.

Abatement Professionals and Portland Diversified Services still have the windows, roofing and boiler treatment plant to address, but the major abatement and demolition work has been done, leaving the interiors of the magnificent brick buildings clean and ready for the architects’ imagination.