Due diligence does not always end with environmental site assessments. Many times, purchasers and lending institutions will require additional building investigations to be conducted, including indoor environmental quality (IEQ) assessments, mold evaluations, asbestos surveys, and lead investigations.

Pre-purchase inspections may also include observing maintenance procedures and schedules as well as reviewing available historical documents. Limited sampling may be performed; however, assessments performed as part of due diligence are generally not adequate for renovation or demolition.

[su_heading size=”18″ align=”left”]Operations and Maintenance[/su_heading]

If regulated materials are present in a building, a written Operations and Maintenance (O&M) program should be developed to reduce liabilities and control costs. Exposure to regulated materials poses significant health and safety concerns, so special handling and disposal considerations are required. Additionally, it is crucial to understand applicable state and federal regulations.

Common Regulated Materials Include:

  • Asbestos
  • Lead (Paint, Flashing, Specialty Applications)
  • PCB-containing light ballasts and transformers
  • PCB caulking
  • Mercury-containing light tubes and thermostats
  • Refrigerants
  • Other heavy metals (cadmium, chrome)
  • Radon

[su_heading size=”18″ align=”left”]Building Materials Survey[/su_heading]

One of the key ingredients in any solid O&M program is a thorough survey. O&M programs should include survey information identifying regulated building materials, as well as descriptions of the location, extent and condition of the materials. O&M programs should also outline standard operating procedures for maintaining these materials, such as maintenance schedules, inspection schedules, personnel training requirements, handling procedures, and emergency response procedures.

Verifying the credentials of whomever is appointed for this task is an important consideration; materials overlooked during a survey completely undermines the foundation of the program, leading to unwanted problems down the road.

For example, a survey may identify the presence of asbestos in a ceiling tile. Left undisturbed it posses little risk, however if maintenance staff were to remove or disturb (perhaps running a cable wire above), they would need special training to legally perform the task safely.

[su_heading size=”18″ align=”left”]Updating Information[/su_heading]

One last consideration, which if overlooked can nullify a lot of hard work, is keeping the information current and accessible over time. O&M programs should be continuously updated to reflect current site conditions. Depending on the size and complexity of a site, the building owner or manager should consider incorporating the use of computer-based technologies (such as databases and geographic information systems) to more efficiently implement and sustain the O&M program. Often times you can find great resources online to assist with keeping records, many of which are free of charge.

It is important to realize that without a good means of keeping this information updated, you run the risk of pushing it to the side and paying through the nose when the time comes and you need the information. Incorporating data updates into the processes of your O&M program right from the get-go will be a tremendous help.

Do you have any stories or tips about performing surveys or creating O&M programs? Let us know in the comments!