EPA Awards Significant IAQ Contract to Environmental Education Foundation

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EEF to Leverage Insurance and Lending Industries to Adopt New Guidelines The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a significant contract to the Environmental Education Foundation (EEF) to form a coalition of major players in the building design/construction and property management industry, including insurance and financial institutions. The purpose of the contract according to David Mudarri, Ph.D., Indoor Environments Division of the Environmental Protection Agency, “[is] to promote EPA’s indoor air quality guidance and encourage its use as the basis for managing indoor environmental quality risks.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a significant contract to the Environmental Education Foundation (EEF) to form a coalition of major players in the building design/construction and property management industry, including insurance and financial institutions. The purpose of the contract according to David Mudarri, Ph.D., Indoor Environments Division of the Environmental Protection Agency, “[is] to promote EPA’s indoor air quality guidance and encourage its use as the basis for managing indoor environmental quality risks.”

“This is an industry-changing initiative,” says EEF Executive Director Troy E. Johnson. “With its adoption by a myriad of industry partners, this is quickly becoming the standard for managing indoor air quality in commercial and multifamily residential buildings.”

Managing indoor environmental quality risks has gained importance in recent years with the advent of large court settlements for personal injury and for mold-related damage to homes and buildings. The impact of mold-related litigation has been most evident in the insurance industry, but recent developments show an added impact in financial institutions. Lenders are beginning to closely evaluate the impact mold-related damage can have on the value of commercial and residential properties and a few cases of lenders “forgiving” mortgages, as it is less risk than taking ownership of the properties, are being reported.

Insurers and lenders (including REITs-Real Estate Investment Trusts) want to reduce risks and are now realizing the importance of quality construction and the use of appropriate materials in new building construction. In addition, operations and maintenance of the facility is more critical than ever. In some instances, borrowers are asked to fill out detailed questionnaires about the maintenance history of the building and potential problems that could lead to mold growth. Insurers and lenders have also shown an interest in knowing if owners and managers have a plan of action in the event of a mold or air quality problem.

EEF’s success in developing its own IAQ program that addresses water intrusion and mold management has positioned the organization to be a viable force in EPA’s plans for managing indoor environmental quality risks. A combination of EPA’s IAQ Building Education and Assessment Model (I-BEAM) software and EEF’s water intrusion and mold management program are providing new guidance for any industry dealing with air quality issues. EEF will also develop a process to pilot test an EPA training module for the Integration of IAQ and Energy Efficiency in Well Managed Buildings, which is based on the 5-staged ENERGY STAR program and EEF will review EPA’s IAQ Green Building Guidance.

“With the merger of some of the start-up IAQ associations and a growing list of fly-by-night “IAQ Associations”, who report to be and have the answers to IAQ issues, the EPA had many of these new organizations clamoring for attention. The EPA ultimately awarded the contract to the EEF based on our long history of collaboration with them and because our mold management and water intrusion program is what lenders and insurance carriers are using today. Applying what we have learned from developing this existing program, along with the input from over 30 organizations, is making the expanded program the “beast of the best,” says Johnson. “This process will help the EPA promote good practices, or improved best practices, using a combination of EPA material, EPA I-BEAM software and EEF training that is accepted by all.”

EEF efforts are significant because the organization has brought together major stakeholders in the management of air quality issues including a who's who of industry professionals as well as mortgage bankers, insurance carriers, architects, pest management, laboratories, IAQ products & services, trade associations and other government agencies.

“Our program is recognized by major insurance carriers for meeting certain underwriter requirements for obtaining mold insurance,” says Johnson. “The commercial building owners and property managers, who want to get mold insurance for their buildings, can take our course and become a member of our organization. In addition, the course is also being used by lenders as a requirement for their borrowers to have in place.”

A complete list of EEF partners and the scope of work for the project is available from the EEF website at: http://www.enviro-ed.org/Pages/EPA_letter.html & http://www.enviro-ed.org/Pages/partner_listad.html. Some of the organization included: ARCS Commercial Mortgage Co. L.P., PNC Multi-family Capital, XL Environmental Insurance, Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA), the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), The Air & Waste Management Association, Cleaning Management Institute (CMI), EMSL Analytical, Environmental Risk Resources Association, National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), Environmental Hazards Management Institute (EHMI), Environmental Monitoring Systems (EMS), HUD, The National Indoor Air Quality Institute, Partnership for Environmental Technology Education (PETE), Hixson Architectural, IQAir, Pest Management Institute, Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, Inc. (HOK), The Naturalist Network and other organizations that support IAQ best practices, in working with the EEF's EPA IAQ Advisory Group

About Environmental Educational Foundation

The Environmental Education Foundation (EEF) is a 501(c) 3 charitable organization dedicated to the development and dissemination of information regarding hazards to human health and threats to the environment with particular emphasis on hazards or threats which are associated with occupying, purchasing, insuring, selling or owning residential, commercial or industrial property; testing methodologies and procedures to detect such hazards and threats; and programs and measures which mitigate or eliminate such hazards. EEF is partners with many government and non-governmental agencies and sits as Consultants to the United Nations on Environmental, Health and Safety issues. Contact: http://www.enviro-ed.org ; Phone: 480-659-9356

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