For Environmental Safety During Renovation and Construction, California Higher Ed Relies on Omega Experience
When a private college in Los Angeles underwent renovations to buildings in 2012, the projects went far beyond a facelift. Built in 1914, Occidental College’s buildings had sustained damage from countless California earthquakes. The structures contained hazardous materials including lead paint and asbestos within its building materials such as insulation, electrical joints, piping and sewer connectors, and walls and floor surfaces.
Asbestos-containing drywall, ceilings, stucco, and flooring, as well as the lead paint on surfaces and building components had to be carefully removed and disposed of before seismic-related construction and renovations could begin.
“Older buildings can contain some of the most dangerous types of asbestos, in addition to lead paint and PCBs.”
— Omega President and Project Director Steve Rosas.
Used in the construction of many schools and universities in the middle decades of the 20th century, asbestos — a mineral with insulating and fire-resistant properties — was commonly used in the manufacture of building materials that included floor tiles, paints, roofing materials, drywalls, plasters, pipe insulation even caulks and many other building products, as well as lead paint.
Asbestos Threat and Campus Renovation Projects
“The threat of asbestos in buildings is still very real and has to be managed diligently prior to and during construction, renovation or demolition activities,” said Omega President and Project Director Steve Rosas. “Older buildings can contain some of the most dangerous types of asbestos, in addition to lead-based paints and PCBs.” However, a sound Asbestos Management Program can significantly minimize the risk of asbestos exposure to building occupants, construction workers and others.
Asbestos, which can lead to health risks that include asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma, is most dangerous when it is “friable” and crumbling into particles and dust that becomes airborne and can be inhaled. In addition to campus renovation or construction projects, asbestos can become damaged as the result of building settling, earthquake activity or even the wear and tear that comes from occupants moving throughout the building, or the operation of building mechanical systems.
With many campus buildings across the state planning the renovation or demolition of aging buildings, careful environmental assessment and remediation must be incorporated into the effort.
Safe Environmental Mitigation in the Campus Setting
Managing the risks posed by the deterioration or disturbance of asbestos-containing materials requires extra diligence in the campus setting. Campuses are rarely unoccupied. That means prior to remediation of asbestos-containing materials it is of utmost importance to develop a specification or work plan that clearly defines the scope of asbestos removal, safe methods for removal and engineering controls. Devising and managing careful containment strategies to protect building occupants is also a critical aspect, along with regular air monitoring to evaluate the air quality in and around a work area to ensure the effectiveness and safety of the removal process.
In addition to diligent hazardous material remediation practices, campus work requires diligent processes for communication. Omega’s experience includes the coordination of information sessions with faculty, students, and others to keep them apprised of progress and safety.
Among the services Omega provides:
- Asbestos assessment and mitigation
- PCB assessment and mitigation
- Lead assessment and mitigation
- Project oversight and air monitoring
- Dust monitoring and mitigation
- Indoor air quality assessment
- Hazardous building materials assessment
- Mold and moisture monitoring
- Coordination of project communication efforts
Professional and Cost-Effective Environmental Mitigation for Colleges and Universities
Omega Environmental has deep expertise in the management of hazardous material assessment and remediation on college campuses. Our work is reliable, thorough, and carefully managed to ensure safety, public confidence – and deadline management.
At Occidental College, our work is credited with having saved the college more than $900,000. The school has continued to work with Omega on other projects around campus.
You can read our Occidental College case study here.
Contact Omega to learn how we can help resolve environmental issues for your renovation or construction project and learn why so many colleges and universities rely on the expertise, reliability and experience of the Omega Environmental team.