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Just this week Pope Francis confirmed his visit to the U.S. for September of 2015. His destination includes Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families with an expected stop in New York.
That’s exciting and much-anticipated news for the parishioners of New York but it can also come with challenges for local churches that may want to be in top shape for the visit – and one of those challenges comes in the form of asbestos remediation and removal.
The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) poses special challenges for Catholic schools and churches holding elementary or secondary school classes within their buildings because regulations require routine inspections and a remediation plan.
With limited budgets and busy buildings, it can be demanding for schools and churches alike to comply with regulations successfully. But armed with a little bit of knowledge, the right team and a good plan, you can be on track and ready for His Holiness’ visit next year.
Buildings that were built or remodeled before the change of the millennium are at special risk for asbestos. That means there’s a good chance that asbestos will be found in the churches and schools of New York.
Some common trouble spots include ceiling tiles and panels, pipe insulation, decorative and textured wall coverings, ductwork and even within equipment such as switches and motors used for organs.
It’s important to recognize where these spots are because some may require special access, especially in “out of sight” places within the mechanics of an organ, in bell towers or in crawl spaces above or below buildings.
A good environmental consultant will have experience dealing with these spots and know where to look so that inspections are thorough and comprehensive. A thorough inspection will put your church or school on the right path but an incomplete or hurried inspection can result in lost time, project delays and budget overruns.
Churches are especially sensitive to timing issues because it’s important to be considerate of the Fathers, Monsignors and staff, parishioners and visitors.
Unplanned or poorly planned inspections can interrupt your daily flow of activities and asbestos removal should certainly not be done in the presence of an unprotected congregation, class of children or during other times when it may affect the safety of others.
With a good environmental consultant on your side, you can plan for work to be done during times that do not conflict with masses, confessions, school day activities or other events. If that means your remediation team needs to work from midnight to 2AM then that’s what you should expect.
Another way your remediation team can mitigate interruptions is to conduct inspections and other processes in phases so that only specific and controlled parts of your building are closed or undergoing work at any time. A phased approach mitigates disruptions and can also help reduce costs.
Your remediation team should always work around your schedule and your needs, and maintain the integrity of the use of your building.
Budget is a reality that few can escape. Regulations or not, asbestos remediation and removal still costs money and churches and schools are particularly susceptible to shortfalls.
That can make it especially tempting to choose the lowest bidder for a project. Unfortunately, sometimes that leads to even worse budget outcomes because low bidders sometimes perform low quality work. When inspections are done poorly or they are incomplete, it may require you to start over with a brand new set of costs and interruptions.
AHERA is quite specific about the types of samples that must be taken and how many samples constitute a complete inspection. If a low cost bidder is left unchecked to cut corners in the interest of cutting costs, your entire project is at risk.
A contractor or a Department of Labor or Department of Environmental Protection representative may uncover asbestos where you thought it didn’t exist. That can result in change orders for construction, lengthy delays, cost overruns and additional budget for new inspections.
You can mitigate budget risks with a good asbestos abatement plan even without going with the lowest bidder. When it comes time to choose your consultants and team, you should demand a thorough, well-thought-out and careful plan.
You should also choose a team with the experience to navigate the New York State and City regulations and who can effectively support you through the process as cost-effectively as possible while ensuring the integrity of your project.
These steps will go a long way towards controlling costs and reassuring you of a job done properly the first time.
Asbestos is not the only potentially harmful substance lurking in your church and school. Other common culprits include lead, radon, mold and more, and they can pose safety and health threats, too.
While the regulations may be different, the premise is the same: a good plan with the right team can go a long way toward controlling costs, minimizing interruptions and getting the job done right.
Whether you need one or more of these harmful substances remediated and removed, consider hiring an environmental consulting company that can supervise, plan and manage the process along with the other experts you require for the job. This will free up your time and resources to focus on your own job and tasks, keep budget under control by ensuring that everything is being run effectively and avoid the hassles and miscommunications that can occur when projects are managed separately.
At Adelaide Environmental Consulting we have deep experience with and knowledge of all aspects of hazardous material remediation in the New York area. We have worked extensively in both the public and private sectors.
For Catholic schools and churches we have developed specific methodologies for record keeping to ensure accuracy and to help you clear up space by keeping records and documents out of basements and safely online. Instead of boxing up thousands of pages of documents, we’ll help you keep them electronically and publicly available as required.
Contact us to learn how we can help keep your next project on time, on budget and done well.
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