property remediation

What do environmental engineers do?

June 16, 2021

 

After answering, we often hear this… That’s cool; I didn’t know that!

 

Here at SCS, we work for developers, industry, and manufacturers to help them run cleaner, safer, and more efficiently. This PBS video provides insight into how SCS brings value to the waste industry, our clients, and, most importantly, our communities.

  • Reduce waste
  • Turn waste into energy
  • Protect and clean the air, soil, and water

You may ask yourself, don’t pig farms create pollution? Yes, but even that waste is reusable!

Did you know the food you buy in the grocery is supported by our environmental experts? Learn more about SCS’s environmental engineers and consultants who bring contaminated properties back to life, lower and capture greenhouse gases for fuels and renewable energy, and make possible a brighter future.

If you are interested in becoming an SCS Engineers employee-owner, watch our comprehensive video to see the breadth of services our teams offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

Vetting Vapor Intrusion to Ensure Safety

April 21, 2021

Vapor barriers prevent the migration of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from subsurfaces.

 

Vapor intrusion is a regulatory hot button gaining traction on states’ radar nationwide. This is driven by a growing understanding of how vapors travel through the soil into structures, posing health risks to occupants, coupled with research showing volatile vapors can be problematic even at very low concentrations.

As in California, conservative assumptions by regulatory agencies call for careful due diligence during the assessment process. These salient concerns recently brought a real estate developer in Monrovia to seek a professional engineer.

The client plans to convert a commercial property to residential use. But before moving forward, it needs to assess potential environmental issues associated with the property. That’s where SCS comes in, drawing on its concrete knowledge base in geology and chemistry—and leveraging its grasp of regulatory requirements.

The work in Monrovia entails a detailed soil vapor assessment, looking for volatile organic compounds (VOCs); the discovery at this site came as little surprise to Julio Nuno, Senior Vice President, and Project Director, as these constituents are often found during evaluations of this kind.

 

Assessing for VOCs
In this case, the soil contained eight VOCs, some at non-compliant levels. The good news is, after an extensive, multi-step vetting process, Nuno and his team came up with a relatively inexpensive solution to tackle a potentially daunting problem.

“As part of the soil vapor assessment, we compare concentrations we find on-site to screening levels established by the Department of Toxic Substances Control. We often see levels in exceedance of regulatory thresholds, particularly in industrial areas with releases that can travel from groundwater to soil into the building through the slab,” Nuno says.

Most prominent at the Monrovia site were two chlorinated compounds that have been used as solvents in industrial applications: tetrachloroethylene, also called PCE, and trichloroethene, or TCE. PCE is commonly present in industrial settings and communities as drycleaners widely and routinely used the chemical for decades.

Nevertheless, the work begins even before confirming VOC levels and other specifics around these compounds. The first step is a Phase I Environmental Assessment looking to see if past use of the property or surrounding property may have left a significant environmental impact. The SCS team discovered the adjacent property had a release of VOCs they identified as a ‘recognized environmental condition,’ meaning it needs further evaluation using a Phase II to determine if vapors could migrate onto the client’s property.

During the Phase II Environmental Assessment –the collection of soil and soil vapor samples –the SCS team gets even more specific, determining what’s present, specific locations, what degree of contamination, and what these findings mean for redeveloping the property and its final use.

“We confirm subsurface concentrations and if they exceed state screening levels, and if the site represents a potential risk for future residential use. The information informs our possible solutions to mitigate any migration of certain VOCs into the building and the indoor air,” Nuno explains.

 

Redevelopment Goals – safety and cost containment
Safety comes first, but containing project costs is a priority, which comes down to knowing design options, how to piece components together with both function and economics in mind. At this site, achieving safety and controlling costs centered largely around looking at the mandatory infrastructure– a ventilation system for a planned underground parking garage to prevent accumulation of carbon monoxide and other vehicle exhaust emissions.

“We knew the underground parking would require a ventilation system. It makes sense to look at the parameters associated with that design to verify if it serves dual purposes to ventilate the garage and mitigate the potential for VOCs to enter the building,” Nuno says.

By studying air exchanges that would occur, the number of times replacing air-containing pollutants with cleaner air per hour, Nuno gets his answer. “We determined that a second, separate system would not be necessary for sufficient ventilation; the assessment enabled us to confirm vapors would not travel into the residential portion of the building.”
The client can save $50,000 to $75,000 in capital expenses upfront while achieving their safety goals and avoids ongoing operations and maintenance costs for added infrastructure.

 

An added layer of protection
Identifying the issues for site developers and their tenants, then plotting the best course of action to ensure safety and regulatory compliance takes experience and knowledge. SCS devises a soil monitoring plan, alerting developers of indications of potential contamination to the soil, of odor, or anything unusual that could suggest an environmentally adverse condition. The plan advises on how to respond should there be an unexpected condition adding a further protection layer.

“It’s essential that an engineer understand the applicable federal, state, and local standards for completing assessments, as well as understand regulatory stipulations. You must also know the variations in those stipulations to effectively design a sustainable plan,” Nuno says. “In Monrovia, we comply with the Department of Toxic Substances Control requirements, the requirements of the Los Angeles Regional Quality Control Board, and others. Each has specific stipulations for evaluating each contaminant. So, we stay on top of which rules apply to which location,” he says.

Nuno has submitted a draft report for review by his client and its legal counsel; he’ll meet with them to discuss findings and explain their meaning. SCS includes an executive summary, explaining in plain language what is salient; often, a backup report includes thousands of pages. “It’s a lot of complex information, so we work on the language,” Nuno says.

“It’s important to paint an accurate picture and use terms that all parties, whether the client, investors, or other stakeholders understand. These redevelopments are major projects with many due diligence considerations. We want to provide accurate findings and recommendations that the client and their advisors can digest to help them with their decision making.”

 

More resources:

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

Remediation: Cost Saving Approach to Redeveloping on Old Landfills or Dumps

January 6, 2021

landfill remediation
Ground Stabilization, Deep Dynamic Compaction on a former landfill in South Florida. The program was designed and certified by SCS Engineers.

 

As large tracts of geographically desirable vacant land become scarcer, residential and commercial property developers are increasingly turning to old landfills or former dumps. However, such redevelopment is complex and rife with uncertainties. When compared to greenfield development, the land acquisition costs are lower. Still, any savings are typically offset by greater environmental and infrastructure costs associated with the foundation, landfill gas management, stormwater management, groundwater impacts, meeting closure requirements, and multiple regulatory agency coordination. Therefore, it is important to maximize the developable area while providing engineering solutions to make the project economically feasible. In this blog, we identify some options to reuse challenging sites and lessons learned to contribute to successful redevelopment projects.

deep landfill
DDC is gaining favor with developers because it provides significant savings over traditional waste excavation and other ground improvement alternatives.

Deep Dynamic Compaction

Old landfills or dumps present some unique soil stability challenges. Deep dynamic compaction (DDC) is a ground stabilization technique that has gained popularity in recent years to improve subsurface soil conditions. DDC involves dropping 6 to 30-ton weights from a height between 30 and 75 feet to achieve the desired soil compaction. DDC can effectively apply to a range of subsurface materials, including former C&D debris or municipal solid waste dumps.

DDC provides a stable foundation for future development, minimizes differential settlement while leaving the landfill waste in place, and eliminates the costs associated with removing, transporting, and disposing of buried waste, costing millions of dollars. For simplicity’s sake, let’s consider a 1-acre old landfill or a dumpsite with an average of 15 feet of waste. If excavating the waste and replacing it with clean fill, the disposal fee costs for the excavated waste alone could exceed $400,000. Alternatively, DDC costs range from $1.50 to $2.00 per square foot or $65,000 to $87,120 per acre, excluding mobilization, which costs around $30,000.

remediation for landfills
Landfill Gas Management System

Gas Mitigation Systems

Constructing buildings on top of dynamically compacted areas generally requires a combustible gas barrier layer below the building foundation to manage subsurface combustible gases (typically methane). The barrier is required because the waste remains in place. In its simplified form, gas mitigation systems include:

  • A subsurface ventilation layer with perforated pipe to capture and divert gas to the atmosphere;
  • An impervious gas barrier, spray-applied or HDPE preventing gas migration into the occupied space, and
  • Compliance monitoring, through horizontal gas probes or methane sensors, to detect methane intrusion.
Showing the liner installation under the building location. Designed and certified by SCS Engineers.

These gas mitigation systems can be either a passive or an active system with a blower. The cost of such systems varies depending on the size of the building, location, and type of liner system used. Typical capital costs for passive systems are in the range of $7 to $9 per square foot for the spray-applied liner and $3 to $4 per square foot for the HDPE liner. For an active system using blowers, add $3 to $4 per square foot. The designer configures a system from these options to address the client’s risk preference and considering future tenant preferences.

Using innovative approaches, impaired lands are increasingly attractive to developers. Beyond the cost-saving benefits to developers realized through DDC and an appropriate gas mitigation system, such projects also create local jobs, increase the tax base, and protect public health and the environment.

 

Learn more about Brownfields and Voluntary Remediation here.

 

About the Authors: 

Somshekhar Kundral Mr. Kundralis, PE, is a Senior Project Manager with over 12 years of broad and diverse environmental engineering experience that includes projects in landfill redevelopment, landfill gas management system design, site assessment, groundwater remediation system design, stormwater management, and injection well system construction. Som is experienced with site permitting, compliance reporting and construction administration services, and remediation systems’ operation and management.

Manuel J. Hernandez – Mr. Hernandez, PE, BCEE,  is a Project Director with 21 years of experience in the environmental field. Manny focuses on solid waste management, and he is an expert in local and federal environmental regulations. His experience includes comprehensive project development, including planning, evaluation, contract negotiations, permitting, design, construction administration, and public outreach. He is known for his leadership, mentoring and team-building skills within multicultural teams.

 

Both engineer’s environmental works include public and private clients. SCS Engineers is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and the Center for Creative Land Recycling.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

Our thanks to the Center for Creative Land Recycling

December 16, 2020

At SCS, we’re proud that our services, vision, and corporate citizenship support community revitalization through brownfield redevelopment and land reuse.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2017 estimated that roughly 40 percent of all Americans, including a quarter of all children, live within 3 miles of a brownfield site that has received EPA funding. This is a conservative estimate, as only 5.5% of brownfields nationwide have benefited from EPA resources. But these striking numbers clarify the degree to which remediating and repurposing contaminated and underutilized properties has transformative potential to protect our residents’ health and safety.

SCS firmly believes that all blighted, abandoned, and underutilized properties have a future as community assets. We support this vision through the services we provide as well as through our corporate citizenship. The partnership of SCS technology and environmental know-how with CCLR is powerful. There is no shortage of possibilities for brownfields now; ski resorts, parks, mixed-use properties, solar farms, really almost any infrastructure is possible.

SCS is proud to support the Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR, or “See Clear”), the leading national nonprofit dedicated to transforming communities through land recycling. Over the past two decades, CCLR has convened, navigated, and influenced the redevelopment industry. Their programs educate the public and community stakeholders to clean up and repurpose underutilized and environmentally impacted properties in a sustainable, equitable and responsible manner.

CCLR and SCS share the belief that with the right training, incentives, and conditions — chiefly, an active corporate partner/investor, community support, and municipal leadership — the redevelopment of brownfields changes communities for the better.  CCLR has produced two videos, About CCLR and What is Land Recycling?, which provide important perspectives about CCLR’s mission and accomplishments.

Dan Johnson, Jim Ritchie, and  Amy Dzialowski are among the SCS staff who have worked with CCLR. They have spoken on panels at CCLR’s California Land Recycling Conference, participated in vapor intrusion study groups, teamed with CCLR on providing technical support to West Sacramento and other municipalities, and serve on the planning committee for the Brownfields 2021 Conference together.

At SCS, we understand that brownfield redevelopment is inherently complex and multifaceted, and we appreciate that productive, successful land recycling requires all hands on deck. We’re proud to play a part on the road to redevelopment and thank CCLR for their national leadership in transforming communities through land recycling.

 

For more information about CCLR, brownfields, and property remediation, contact , or Jean Hamerman, Acting Executive Director of CCLR.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

EPA Brownfields grant applications up to $800K due October 28, 2020

September 21, 2020

Shown here COMM22, developed by BRIDGE-Housing, is an award-winning mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented development located at Commercial and 22nd streets in San Diego. SCS’s environmental remediation of the property to ensure human health and the environment were protected as cost-effectively as possible enabled the four-phase development project; supporting both the social and business goals of our client and the community.

Many things have been put on hold, but your plans for community revitalization and economic resilience are still critically important. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Grant applications are due October 28, 2020.

Local governments and non-profits use Brownfields grants to complete environmental assessments, redevelopment planning, and environmental cleanup. The grant opportunities available now are as follows:

Brownfields Assessment Grant– for Brownfields inventories, environmental assessment, redevelopment planning, and cleanup planning. Funding amounts of $300,000 for community-wide and $600,000 for coalitions.

Brownfields Cleanup Grant– for environmental cleanup of a specific property or properties, currently owned by the applicant. Funding amounts up to $500,000

Brownfields Multi-Purpose Grant-for a range of activities including redevelopment planning, inventories, environmental assessment, and environmental cleanup. Funding amounts up to $800,000.

SCS Engineers has provided grant writing and implementation services for over $10 million in successful Brownfields grant applications including an 80% success rate for first-time applications and over 90% success rate for second round applications. Our Brownfields team is ready to support your grant application effort too. We will work with you to understand the EPA Brownfields grant opportunities and support your development of a successful proposal.

SCS Engineers is a national environmental consulting and contracting company with local experts.  We serve as Brownfields’ consultants for many public and private sector clients. Find more inspiration and economic redevelopment successes across our nation:

 

Contact Dan Johnson, Mr. Johnson brings 35 years of experience and over 200 EPA contracts he’s managed to support your grant application. He is a nationally recognized Brownfield expert and author; current practices regarding environmental assessments; speaks or chairs numerous conferences on hazardous waste issues related to real estate transactions and Brownfields redevelopment.

 

Contact Amy Dzialowski, Ms. Dzialowski is a nationally recognized expert in Brownfields redevelopment, site reuse, and planning. She has supported grant applications and Brownfield implementation for dozens of communities.

 

Contact Ray Tierney, Mr. Tierney is a Professional Geologist with over 30 years of experience in environmental and sustainability engineering and has helped a wide range of organizations control and reduce their legacy environmental impacts and liabilities, lower their costs, obtain grants for Brownfields, and implement cost-saving practices.

 

Kirk Blevins, Mr. Blevins is experienced in land development and redevelopment support, due diligence for property transactions, Brownfield redevelopment, environmental compliance auditing, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) sites.

 

Find a Brownfields consultant near you, try our staff directory where you can search by specialty, city, and state.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

EPA Brownfields grant applications are due October 28, 2020

September 10, 2020

Shown here COMM22, developed by BRIDGE-Housing, is an award-winning mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented development located at Commercial and 22nd streets in San Diego. SCS’s environmental remediation of the property to ensure human health and the environment were protected as cost-effectively as possible enabled the four-phase development project; supporting both the social and business goals of our client and the community.

Many things have been put on hold, but your plans for community revitalization and economic resilience are still critically important. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Grant applications have been announced and are due October 28, 2020.

Local governments and non-profits use these grants to complete environmental assessments, redevelopment planning, and environmental cleanup. The grant opportunities available now are as follows:

Brownfields Assessment Grant– for Brownfields inventories, environmental assessment, redevelopment planning, and cleanup planning. Funding amounts of $300,000 for community-wide and $600,000 for coalitions.

Brownfields Cleanup Grant– for environmental cleanup of a specific property or properties, currently owned by the applicant. Funding amounts up to $500,000

Brownfields Multi-Purpose Grant-for a range of activities including redevelopment planning, inventories, environmental assessment, and environmental cleanup. Funding amounts up to $800,000.

SCS Engineers has provided grant writing and implementation services for over $10 million in successful Brownfields grant applications including an 80% success rate for first-time applications and over 90% success rate for second round applications. Our Brownfields team is ready to support your grant application effort too. We will work with you to understand the EPA Brownfields grant opportunities and support your development of a successful proposal.

SCS Engineers is a national environmental consulting and contracting company with local experts.  We serve as Brownfields’ consultants for many public and private sector clients. Find more inspiration and economic redevelopment successes across our nation:

 

Contact Dan Johnson, Mr. Johnson brings 35 years of experience and over 200 EPA contracts he’s managed to support your grant application. He is a nationally recognized Brownfield expert and author; current practices regarding environmental assessments; speaks or chairs numerous conferences on hazardous waste issues related to real estate transactions and Brownfields redevelopment.

 

Contact Amy Dzialowski, Ms. Dzialowski is a nationally recognized expert in Brownfields redevelopment, site reuse, and planning. She has supported grant applications and Brownfield implementation for dozens of communities.

 

Contact Ray Tierney, Mr. Tierney is a Professional Geologist with over 30 years of experience in environmental and sustainability engineering and has helped a wide range of organizations control and reduce their legacy environmental impacts and liabilities, lower their costs, obtain grants for Brownfields, and implement cost-saving practices.

 

Kirk Blevins, Mr. Blevins is experienced in land development and redevelopment support, due diligence for property transactions, Brownfield redevelopment, environmental compliance auditing, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) sites.

 

Find a Brownfields consultant near you, try our staff directory where you can search by specialty, city, and state.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

SCS Engineers Welcomes Joe Dinan to Lead Our Boston Office

February 19, 2020

Joseph Dinan heads the SCS Engineers new office at 101 Arch Street, Boston, MA 02110,
Tel: 857-444-6302

SCS Engineers opened a new office in Boston’s Downtown Crossing district. The new location is more convenient for clients and enhances support to the firm’s growing client base in New England.

joe dinan
Joe Dinan heads the SCS Engineers’ environmental services team in Boston.

Joseph Dinan, an accomplished project manager and senior scientist heads Boston’s SCS team. Dinan has an excellent record meeting regulatory compliance and accountability for his clients to efficiently permit projects, keep them on budget and maintain the redevelopment schedule while meeting all environmental guidance. His background includes applied sciences including chemistry, microbiology, and environmental and soil sciences. Dinan has successfully managed hundreds of environmental assessment and remediation projects, both domestically and internationally.

Dinan’s Boston team resolves complex environmental challenges through the application of comprehensive analytical skills and technologies. Approaching each project with decades of expertise, mitigating the financial risk through careful assessment, analysis, and planning protects clients and the environment during all phases of redevelopment.

The Boston location supports the growing demand for environmental scientists, engineers, and consultants. SCS professional staff specializes in meeting federal, state, and local clean air, water, and soil goals, and the restoration of property once thought impractical to revitalize. The firm also provides vapor intrusion systems for protecting existing properties and a range of comprehensive environmental services for public and private entities.

As with most established urban environments, many properties may have previously been industrial or mass transportation sites, which often means that extra care is taken during redevelopment. Commercial real estate transactions must take environmental issues into consideration. Complex laws can impose significant environmental liabilities on purchasers, sellers, and lenders, whether or not they caused the problem, and whether or not they still own the property.

Important rules published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – USEPA and in Massachusetts and other states offer defenses against environmental liabilities provided that the defendant conducted “all appropriate inquiries” regarding the property at the time of the acquisition, and then took reasonable steps to mitigate the effects of hazardous substances found on the property.

For more information, case studies, events, and articles visit these pages:

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:01 am

Brownfields Assessment, Cleanup and the New Multipurpose Grant Applications Due in January

December 4, 2018

 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes grant application guidance for Brownfields Assessment, Cleanup, and the new Multipurpose Grants.

$50 million+ will be made available this year.

With the passage of the BUILD Act this year, there are important changes to the grant applications including special consideration given to communities and projects on any waterfronts or floodplains. There are three categories of opportunities for Brownfield grant funding, as follows:

Multipurpose Grants – each proposal is funded up to $800,000 over five years. EPA anticipates selecting ten proposals.

Assessment Grants – Community-wide and Site-specific proposals are each funded up to $200,000 over three years; Assessment Coalition proposals are funded up to $600,000 over three years. EPA anticipates selecting 114 proposals.

Cleanup Grants each proposal funded up to $500,000 over three years. EPA anticipates selecting 40 proposals. Brownfield sites where EPA Cleanup Grant funds were previously expended may not receive additional EPA Cleanup Grant funding in FY 2019.

 EPA is hosting a webinar on December 11, 2018, at 2 pm (ET). The webinar is to assist applicants with understanding the Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup Grant Guidelines. Participants can join the audio conference line at 1-866-299-3188 using access code: 202-566-1817, and the web conference at https://epawebconferencing.acms.com/fy19_mac/

SCS Engineers routinely and successfully supports our clients with Brownfield’s grant writing and grant application reviews, in addition to our Brownfields and Remediation Services.

Applications are due by January 31, 2019. Please contact Amy Dzialowski, our Brownfields Grant Specialist or if you have a property or redevelopment district that you think is a good fit for pursuing these funds, or for a conversation regarding this program.

Amy Dzialowski, Project Director, and SCS’s Brownfields Grants National Expert

Brownfields and Voluntary Remediation Experts: Mike McLaughlin, Sr. VP, and Dan Johnson, VP.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

SCS Technical Bulletin: BUILD Act Summary

August 3, 2018

SCS Engineers periodically prepares Technical Bulletins to highlight items of interest to our clients and friends.  Our most recent SCS Bulletin summarizes the Brownfields BUILD Act (Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development). The BUILD Act was signed into law in March 2018, amending the Brownfields provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Specific changes include increased eligibility for funding, additional liability protections, and changes to grant programs. The link above will take you directly to the summary.

SCS will continually update coverage of this Act on our website. I welcome you to use our staff resources for guidance or to answer questions.

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

More Opportunity Zones Provide New Tax Incentives, Brownfield Revitalization

July 16, 2018

On April 9, 2018, the U.S. Department of Treasury and the IRS approved Opportunity Zones for: American Samoa; Arizona; California; Colorado; Georgia; Idaho; Kentucky; Michigan; Mississippi; Nebraska; New Jersey; Oklahoma; Puerto Rico; South Carolina; South Dakota; Vermont; Virgin Islands; and Wisconsin. The Treasury Department has made the final designations of Opportunity Zones in more states during June 2018.

Use this interactive map to locate eligible zones in your state.

Opportunity Zones are communities where new investments may be eligible for significant tax incentives. The zones are based on Census Tracts that meet income criteria, and were created in the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 as a means of helping economically depressed areas through tax incentives for new private investments.

Investors can defer tax on prior gains invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (a fund set up to make investments in Qualified Opportunity Zones). In addition, if investors hold the investment in the Opportunity Fund for at least five years they are eligible for capital gains tax reductions or exemptions. If they hold the investment in the Opportunity Fund for at least ten years, they are eligible for an increase in its basis equal to the fair market value of the investment on the date that it is sold.

Brownfields and Opportunity Zones

Many of the communities in the Opportunity Zones have properties impacted by environmental contamination. The Opportunity Zones program provides an economic tool to attract developers and financial backing to communities with brownfield redevelopment needs.

If you are interested in investing in a potential brownfield site, contact SCS Engineers to help you evaluate and manage environmental concerns associated with your site. Visit www.scsengineers.com to learn more.

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am