Are you familiar with the EPA’s lead paint rules? If not, it’s probably time to get up-to-date, as the lead paint rules that have been in effect for residential renovation projects for several years could be coming to the commercial segment.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule was issued in 2008 and went into effect in 2010. The rules require that any firm performing renovation, repair or paint work on homes, child care facilities and pre-schools built before 1978 must be EPA certified, use certified renovators and installers, and follow lead-safe work practices. Now the EPA is investigating plans to extend the lead paint rules to commercial buildings.
Since its launch, the LRRP has been under scrutiny from the building industry, as contractors working in the residential and school renovation segments grappled with the requirements of the rules, the steep fines for noncompliance, and the costs for certification. The cost, in particular, has been a matter of concern. The EPA estimates that more than $10.3 billion will be spent on the residential LRRP by December 2016, and many in the construction industry forecast costs will exceed those estimates.
The LRRP was a focus of the Regulatory Affairs Committee meeting during the American Architectural Manufacturers Association Summer Conference last week in Indianapolis. “The EPA has agreed to either sign a proposed rule covering RRP activities of public and commercial buildings, or determine that these activities do not create lead-based paint hazards by July 1, 2015,” says Maureen Knight, AAMA government affairs/product stewardship manager. The proposed rules include public buildings built before 1978 and commercial buildings that are not child-occupied facilities.
Costs of the lead paint rules are expected to "skyrocket if commercial contractors are forced into RRP rule compliance," Knight says. "These fees are extremely detrimental to renovation firms. Many won’t be able to shoulder the costs and will cease to conduct renovations on impacted buildings or be forced to charge a substantial premium to building owners. Others will simply ignore the rule and cause a significantly unfair playing field."
It seems the EPA is working hard to minimize push-back from industry with the commercial lead paint rules through extensive communication with stakeholder companies and trade associations. The agency established a Small Business Review Panel, is gathering data about the OSHA construction standard for lead, and is surveying contractors.
Industry companies can get involved and make sure the construction industry's voice is heard by reading through the proposal, officially called the “Framework for Identifying and Evaluating Lead-Based Paint Hazards from Renovation, Repair, and Painting Activities in Public and Commercial Buildings,” and commenting. The deadline to comment is June 30.
“It is very important to keep an eye on this, and to continue to issue comments,” Knight says. "We’ve already witnessed home renovation contractors withdrawing their services from impacted homes. Compliance costs have significantly increased the cost of doing business and ultimately the cost to homeowners, which subsequent stifles home retrofits and reduces the number of home improvement products purchased. The same circumstances will likely happen in the commercial renovation market."
Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Write her at email@example.com.