Managing Hazmat Costs through Environmental Construction Design by Ramil Arcia

For the K-12 clientele and the general school system, Millennium Consulting continues to exhibit a strong presence within the education infrastructure. The company provides various environmental services to support construction and modernization objectives. Client project managers are tasked with a myriad of responsibilities that extend beyond hazardous materials management, including budget control, design coordination, timely deliverables, communication with faculty, administration and parents, and settling contractor disputes with construction management. These responsibilities are usually numerous and challenging. The goal of an environmental designer is to help navigate the design and work closely with the construction team to abate as much of the hazardous materials onsite within the limits of the project scope and budget. For maximum abatement, it is crucial that the environmental designer know the most integral aspects of the construction design from scope creation to procurement of contract documents to construction execution. As a result, the environmental designer communicates effectively to the client the benefits of maximum hazardous materials removal regardless of the size of the project.

Budget’s Impact on Abatement
Abatement options are generally determined by the budget. Abatement of building materials outside of the proposed scope of renovation must be justified to fit the constraints of the budget. An environmental designer must not only consider the costs of removal, but also the costs of installation. For example, entire room flooring systems may not be included within the architectural and construction schematics, resulting in the risk of inflating the budget if it is later determined that the removal of all flooring, any obstructing materials and installation of new flooring is required. Consequently, an increased budget may take away funds that could be spent on other building systems in greater need of improvement.

Environmental Designer’s Impact on Abatement
On the other hand, an environmental designer working with building systems that have a comprehensive renovation plan can maximize the abatement of hazardous materials by becoming familiar with the details of both the architectural and each trade design for the project. An environmental engineer can realize the potential opportunities to fully abate hazardous materials by learning additional facets of design such as mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural and fire safety details. For instance, knowing how ceiling fan units are stabilized through the plenum on a ceiling sprayed with asbestos acoustical plaster and lead paint can give the designer valuable information on the exact amount of the ceiling that requires removal. With this knowledge and constant coordination with the architect, electrical and mechanical designer, the environmental designer can propose changes to the scope of the ceiling removal to the client if the costs are within the budget and the benefits of full removal are logical. Moreover, the environmental designer can also project operations and maintenance cost savings and help placate any reservations of full abatement within the current construction project.

Overall, the goal of the environmental designer is to help coordinate and maximize abatement scope that makes the most sense within the current construction project and ongoing maintenance.  By working with the client managers, architects, trade designers and the project site, the environmental designer can assist the facility to reduce and eliminate all hazardous materials as much as possible within every renovation and modernization project.