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Residential Construction Contractor's Guide

#4 - Design Considerations

The greatest opportunity for pollution prevention lies in the planning and design stages of a construction project. Buildings should be safe for the people who build them, those who work or live in them, and those who remodel or demolish them. Healthy buildings mean increased comfort and productivity and decreased disability claims and litigation. As consumer concerns about indoor air and water quality increase, healthy buildings become more marketable.

Following are the basic elements of a healthy building:

  • Materials and equipment that do not create pollutants
  • Clean indoor air
  • Appropriate indoor humidity
  • Water conservation devices
  • Recycling and waste reduction areas

When specified and applied to new construction or remodeling, pollution prevention techniques and products can significantly reduce the environmental impact of construction activities.

Sustainable Site Issues

Sustainable site planning does not impose building design on the site. Rather, it is used to identify the ecological characteristics of the site, to determine whether the site is appropriate for its proposed use, and to design ways to integrate the building with the site.  The intent is to lessen the environmental impact of human activity while using natural features of the site to enhance human comfort and health.  Preservation of site resources and conservation of energy and materials in construction and building operations are important benefits of good site planning.

When integrating pollution prevention into your construction project, perform a site analysis with your client to determine which of the following site characteristics may influence the shape, materials choice, mechanical systems, or solar orientation of the building:

  • Topographical features that influence drainage and air movement
  • Groundwater and surface runoff characteristics
  • Solar access
  • Air movement patterns
  • Neighboring developments and proposed future developments
  • Parcel shape and access


Street Design
Proper design and orientation of streets can preserve existing vegetation, maintain water quality, and take advantage of solar energy.

Narrower streets are becoming more popular in new developments because they minimize environmental damage and reduce the developer's initial costs. Recent studies have shown that narrower widths on less traveled streets actually promote safety by discouraging fast speeds. Less paved surface area allows you to retain more native vegetation. Sidewalks on only one side of the street, or paved foot paths in place of sidewalks, can result in significant cost savings.

Narrower streets provide space for grassy swales (shallow ditches), which prevent erosion by slowing down and filtering rainfall, allowing it to percolate into the soil. In contrast, standard street design directs runoff to storm drains, which empty into streams. Runoff from storm drains not only washes away soil, but also carries oil, combustion by-products, and other pollutants directly to surface waters.

Other environmental benefits from narrow street design include:

  • Less paving material required for construction.
  • Less pavement area allows more rain to reach the soil and recharge groundwater.
  • Recharging groundwater reduces the need for landscape irrigation.
  • Less pavement reduces surface water runoff.
  • Less runoff reduces soil erosion.
  • Grassy swales slow down and filter runoff, reducing soil erosion and stream pollution.
  • Narrower streets require less grading, cuts, and fills, allowing existing trees to be saved.
  • Narrower streets need less right-of-way, freeing land for other purposes.


Best Pollution Prevention Practices

Objectives:

  1. Reduce negative impacts to surface water from storm water runoff.
  2. Reduce impermeable surface areas.

Practices:

  • Design right-of-ways that are 50' wide.
  • Drain water away from wells.
  • Design cul-de-sacs that are 45' in diameter.
  • Put a 5'- to 8'-wide sidewalk on one side of the street.
  • Use grassy swales for drainage.
  • Retain dead tree snags where safety isn't compromised.


Maximize Solar Access
Designing residential streets to run east-west allows most houses to have a north-south orientation. A southern exposure allows buildings to collect solar energy for heat. Major glazing areas facing south and north receive the best combination of winter warming, summer shading, and day lighting potential. Concurrently, overheating problems from glazing on east or west sides of the house will be reduced or eliminated.


Best Pollution Prevention Practices

Objective:

Design and orient streets for maximum use of solar energy.


Practices:

  • Orient streets within 30 degrees of east-west.
  • Orient lots so most are in a north-south orientation.
  • Plan major glazing areas of houses to face south.
  • Place deciduous trees near the house to provide shade in the summer but allow sunlight to enter in the winter.
  • Coniferous trees can be placed away from the house to provide a windbreak in the winter.
  • Design sloped roofs to face south to accommodate future solar collectors or solar electric panels.
  • Minimize use of skylights.
  • Use light-colored roofing materials to minimize summer heating.

Design for Energy Savings

Approximately 50% of energy use in buildings is devoted to producing an artificial indoor climate through heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting. Building projects throughout Montana have shown that climate-sensitive design using common sense, time-tested concepts, and available technologies can cut heating and cooling energy consumption by up to 60%. Elements of cold-climate energy-efficient construction include:

  • Air leakage control from the influence of wind, stack effect, combustion appliances, and forced ventilation systems. Caulking, filling
  • voids with foam, and installing an air infiltration barrier will prevent the loss of heated air.
  • Moisture control using natural ventilation, properly placed and balanced forced ventilation systems, vapor and moisture barriers, and
  • preventive site planning.
  • Indoor air quality management to balance air leakage control with adequate fresh air for occupants and combustion appliances.
  • Thermal protection with climate-appropriate and well-placed levels of insulation in the walls, ceilings, floors, and foundations.
  • Window selection and placement to take advantage of solar heating, light, and air between interior space and the outside. Wood or
  • vinyl frames, low emissivity (low-e) coatings, argon gas between the panes, and double or triple pane windows greatly reduce heat
  • loss.
  • Energy-efficient entry doors with rigid foam insulated core and sealing gaskets to stop air leaks around door edges.
  • Material selection using recycled and nontoxic products.
  • Energy-efficient HVAC equipment such as efficient furnaces, water heaters, and ventilation systems.
  • Passive cooling and natural ventilation
  • Energy-efficient lighting using efficient lamps, ballasts, and controls coordinated with daylight and color of interior space to provide
  • effective and energy-saving light.
  • Passive solar heating that allows sunlight to enter the building during the winter but not during the summer through the use of
  • appropriate south-facing glazing and shading devices.
  • Thermal mass sizing and placement to moderate temperatures in the building. In cold-climates, thermal mass integration can be
  • achieved by strategically applying common building materials such as extra wallboard and decorative concrete to walls and floors.
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • Energy-efficient landscape planning
  • Water conservation using flow-restricting faucet aerators to save both water and energy. Use devices that meet the following standards,
  • expressed in gallons per minute (GPM):
  • Lavatory Faucet Aerators 2.0 GPM
  • Kitchen Faucet Aerators 2.5 GPM
  • Showerheads 2.5 GPM


Design for Waste Reduction

Much waste can be produced during the construction process, including scraps of lumber and plywood, damaged gypsum wallboard, and many other materials. It is estimated that construction and demolition (C&D) materials make up 20%-30% of what goes into our municipal landfills annually (more in high growth areas).  


Typical Construction Scrap from a 2,000 Sq Ft Home
Material Weight Volume (cu yd)
Wood 2 tons 6
Drywall 1 ton 5
Masonry 1/2 ton 1
Corrugated Cardboard 600 lbs. 20
Metal 150 lbs. 1
Vinyl (PVC) 150 lbs. 1
Containers (paints, caulks, etc.) 50 lbs. --
Other 1/2 ton 11
TOTAL 8,000 lbs. 50
*volumes are highly variable
Source: NAHB Research Center, 1994


A number of opportunities exist to encourage waste reduction during the design stage and on the construction site. There are two general ways to efficiently manage construction materials:

  • Prevent the creation of waste, scrap, and discards.
  • Handle waste materials responsibly once they are created.


Best Pollution Prevention Practices

Objective:

Managing C&D materials efficiently by using materials and processes that reduce or eliminate the creation of waste.


Practices:

  • Create less waste by more efficient framing and plywood layout such as "advanced framing." Advanced framing eliminates nonstructural lumber from walls and ceilings to reduce thermal bridging and make more room for insulation. With an R value of one per inch, wood is a relatively poor insulator. Wood wall framing acts as a thermal bridge for heat loss from the inside wall to the outside. Advanced framing allows insulation to be installed in more of the shell of the building, thus decreasing heat loss. Many builders find that by incorporating advanced framing they can actually reduce their labor and material cost. Elements of advanced framing include:
    • 2 x 6 studs 24 inches on center and elimination of unnecessary lumber at intersections between exterior walls and partitions.
    • insulated headers over windows and doors.
    • 2-stud and special 3-stud corners that eliminate uninsulated corner cavities.
    • ceilings constructed to allow insulation at full depth to extend over the top plates.
  • Purchase products with minimal packaging and product waste. Favor suppliers who will minimize use of packaging and will take back excess
  • Packaging such as pallets, crates, and cardboard boxes, or who will take back excess building materials.
  • Use less toxic materials. Substitute water-based paints for solvent-based paints.
  • Use leftover materials and salvage fixtures and materials.
  • Use products made from recycled materials.


Some contractors are skeptical about the strength, durability, or cost of recycled products; however, many "green" products are currently being used in the construction industry. Here are a few areas where materials with recycled content can be used:

  • Foundations - use of waste fly ash in poured or block foundations, lighter weight concrete and hollow blocks, panelized foundation
  • systems, thin wall technology, expanded polystyrene foam form blocks, autoclaved cellular concrete.
  • Framing - glue-laminated lumber beams, engineered I-joists and wood fiber products, laminated veneer lumber, steel framing, finger- jointed lumber, oriented strand board (OSB).
  • Panel and Block Systems - stress-skin panels faced with OSB, honeycomb panels, autoclaved cellular concrete.
  • Sheathing - OSB; sheathing made from recycled magazines and waste wood chips; plasterboard of perlite, gypsum, and newsprint; fiberboard from agricultural by-products or from recycled newspaper.
  • Windows and Doors - new composites for doors and windows, doors with lightweight foam cores and composite skins.
  • Roofing - slates and shingles made from fiber-cement composites, recycled aluminum, recycled plastic, and remanufactured wood fiber; traditional organic asphalt shingles with recycled mixed waste paper.
  • Exterior Siding, Fascia, and Trim - engineered wood siding and trim, fiber-cement composites, aluminum or steel siding products.
  • Insulation, Soundproofing, and Fireproofing - insulation made from cellulose and mineral slag, mineral fiber insulation.
  • Interior Walls and Ceilings - hardboard made from waste wood; fiberboard made from perlite, gypsum, and recycled post-consumer newsprint; 100% recycled newsprint fiberboard; wallpaper made from recycled paper and wood chips.
  • Carpet Underlayment - products that use recycled paper, jute, rubber, or agricultural fiber.
  • Floor Coverings - carpet and tile made from recycled products, cork flooring, recovered wood from demolition or remodeling projects.
  • Deck and Landscaping Lumber - composite lumber made from recycled wood fibers and scrap plastic, recycled plastic lumber.


Handling Practices
When you no longer have use for products or materials, you have three waste management options:

  • Reuse them. Use materials for another construction project or make them available to others for reuse scrap lumber can often be reused for smaller construction projects or reused by consumers. Many materials and fixtures from remodel jobs can be reused, sold to second-hand stores, or offered to consumers.
  • Recycle them. Common construction materials that can be recycled through conventional recycling centers include copper, aluminum, steel, and corrugated cardboard.
  • Landfill them. This should be your last choice.

Indoor Air Quality

There are several issues to consider about indoor air quality when building or remodeling a home:

  1. The number of chemicals used in construction
  2. Combustion appliances
  3. Tightness of the home
  4. Increase in the number of chemically sensitive people
  5. Creation of a unique market


Best Pollution Prevention Practices

Objective:

Evaluate sources of indoor air pollution and identify cost-effective alternatives.


Practices:

  • Prioritize which indoor air pollutants to eliminate by considering duration and concentration. Strong or long-lasting sources are of greatest concern.
  • For example, interior paint fumes can be a hazard, but they are relatively short-lived. After the paint cures, off-gassing is minimal. By comparison, gas stoves generate hazardous pollutants nearly every day the house is occupied, and they are concentrated near the stove.
  • When building custom homes, ask the owners about what building materials they want installed. They may know what materials they want to avoid.
  • Install only certified woodstoves.
  • Evaluate fireplaces that have high-tech, low-emission enclosed chambers and factory built zero clearance fireplaces as alternatives to traditional open masonry fireplaces.


Prevent Radon Entry
Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium, which is found in most soil throughout Montana. As radon gas decays, radioactive alpha particles are released. When you inhale, these particles can get trapped in your lungs and increase your risk of developing lung cancer.  Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.  The U.S. EPA defines 4 pCi/L (pico Curies per liter of air) as the action limit for of radon in a home.

Below are some suggestions for reducing radon concentrations when constructing new homes and also when fixing or remodeling an existing home with radon problems. For more information on any specific details contact the National Radon Hotline 1-800-SOS-RADON, operated by National Safety Council in partnership with EPA. 


Best Pollution Prevention Practices

Objective:

Construct new homes to prevent radon soil gas from entering living space.


Practices:

  • Seal all cracks and edge joints of subfloor (tongue and groove as well as butt edges). For basements, floor drainage must have anti-radon traps.
  • Seal all foundation penetrations for wiring, plumbing, and duct work.
  • Fully weatherstrip crawl spaces, but ensure ample ventilation.
  • Install a radon control system using code-approved standards.
    • Ensure that soil gases and radon underneath the building rise easily through a single riser pipe vented to the outside.
    • For a concrete floor in a basement or a slab-on-grade home, place a 4-inch layer of 3/4-inch gravel prior to pouring the floor. Other options include using buried, perforated pipe inside the footing or laying matting on the sub-grade dirt under the slab.
    • The riser pipe is routed through the warmest part of the building interior to create a natural stack effect.
    • The efficiency of the system can be enhanced by sealing openings in the slab and walls, which forces the air to be drawn from under the building, not in it.
    • This system can operate without a fan, but the design should allow for installation of one in the future, if necessary.

Best Pollution Prevention Practices

Objective:

Repair or remodel a home with radon problems.


Practices:

  • The preferred method is to install an Active Soil Depressurization (ASD) system, which creates suction beneath the home.
  • For a crawl space design:
    • Place perforated pipe on the soil. Connect this pipe to solid PVC pipe and a fan, which creates a vacuum.
    • Lay a high-density polyethylene sheet on the soil. Seams are sealed, and edges are sealed to foundation walls.
    • Route the PVC pipe through the roof, where the radon is vented to the outside.
  • For a slab-on-grade design:
    • Cut one or more holes through the slab (the number of holes depends on the permeability of the soil and the number of footings).
    • Hollow out a pit beneath the slab.
    • Place PVC pipe in the hole(s).
    • Route the pipe to a fan to create a vacuum beneath the slab. Route the PVC pipe through the roof, where the radon is vented to the outside.


Radon Disclosure in Real Estate
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the EPA strongly suggest that all Americans test their homes for radon. 

The following information should be included in a real estate transaction:

  • Radon test results, if available
  • The EPA booklet Home Buyer's and Seller's Guide to Radon
  • Names and phone numbers of radon assistance professionals

Radon in New Construction and Home Renovations
Today many homes are built to prevent radon from coming in. Radon-resistant construction features usually keep radon levels in new homes below 2 pCi/L.

If you are planning any major structural renovation, such as converting an unfinished basement into living space, test the area for radon before you begin the renovation. If test results indicate a radon problem, radon-resistant techniques can be inexpensively included in the renovation. Because major renovations can change the level of radon in the home, always test again after work is completed.

As a result of national concern for radon, building codes with construction plans for mitigation have been developed for the building industry.  Check your local and state codes for radon related regulations.

Contacts and Sources

Eliminate VOC Emissions
Hundreds of building materials and finishes off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are organic solvents (such as benzene, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, and mineral spirits) that evaporate easily. VOCs are found in paints, paint strippers, wood preservatives, adhesives, linoleum, carpet, cleaning compounds, and many other products.

VOCs vary in concentration, duration, and health effects. Products that contain VOCs in aerosol form adversely affect air quality. Some products containing VOCs are flammable. VOCs can cause reproductive problems, central nervous system damage, and cancer. 


Best Pollution Prevention Practices

Objective:

Reduce the potential for VOC emissions by careful selection, use, and storage of materials and finishes.


Practices:

  • Select products without VOCs such as latex paints. Choose latex paints that are free of biocides or fungicides.
  • Select low VOC-emitting products.
  • Whenever possible, use products containing VOCs outdoors.
  • If VOC products must be used indoors, provide adequate ventilation. Take frequent breaks for fresh air and watch for chemical reactions.
  • Store toxic chemicals in a well-ventilated area that is sealed off from living spaces.
  • Prevent garage air from entering the house. Separate the garage from the house or seal all air leaks between the garage and the house.
  • Select nontoxic adhesives and sealants for tile, countertops, carpet, linoleum, and vinyl flooring.
  • Reduce the use of sheet vinyl.
  • Use nontoxic wood finishes such as water-based urethanes for floors, cabinets, doors, and trim.
  • Choose nontoxic drywall compound.
  • Reduce the use of window frames made from treated wood.
  • Reduce the use of polysulfides (a type of rubber).
  • Use protective gear such as gloves and glasses. A respirator should be used when working with VOC-containing products for long periods of time.
  • Keep pets, children, and pregnant women away from VOC-containing products.
  • Dispose of leftover, used, or empty VOC-containing products according to guidelines for a potentially hazardous waste.


Carpet and Indoor Air Quality
Research has recently examined the effects of carpet on indoor air quality. The most notable chemicals released from the carpet's latex backing are 4-PC and styrene. In 1992, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) began a labeling program for carpets. Carpet samples are tested four times a year for VOCs, styrene, 4-PC, and formaldehyde emissions. Carpets that pass the test can carry the new label.  Adhesives used to install the carpet constitute the biggest source of VOC emissions. Advances in carpet design allow some manufacturers to claim VOC emission levels of zero. Contact the CRI at (800) 882-8846 for more information.


Best Pollution Prevention Practices

Objective:

Follow CRI guidelines for selecting and installing new carpet.


Practices:

  • Select certified, low VOC-emission carpet, pads, and adhesives.
  • Plan for the carpet and pad or cushion to be rolled out in a well-ventilated area 24 to 48 hours before installation.
  • Plan to install carpet during mild weather so doors and windows can be left open for ventilation.
  • Provide plenty of ventilation for the first few days after carpet installation.
  • Select carpets and pads that do not off-gas toxic chemicals. Examples of low VOC-emitting carpets include:
    • 100% nylon fiber with jute backing
    • 100% polyethylene terpthalate (PET) or PET/nylon blend with a latex-bonded mesh backing
    • 100% wool or cotton fiber
    • 100% jute, sisal, or hemp fiber

Contacts 

  • Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) (800) 882-8846
    PO Box 2048 or (706) 278-3176
    Dalton, GA 30722

Reduce Formaldehyde Emissions
Many building materials contain formaldehyde, a dangerous source of indoor air pollution. Formaldehyde can off-gas for an extended time, causing dizziness, rashes, headaches, nausea, breathing problems, sinus and eye irritation, sore throats, and cancer. Formaldehyde is found in plywood, particle board, paneling, and carpet adhesives.  Although federal standards have not been set for formaldehyde, OSHA regulates it as a carcinogen and has adopted a Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) of 0.75 parts per million (ppm) and an action level of 0.5 ppm. OSHA also requires informing potentially exposed workers about the presence of formaldehyde in products that can cause exposure levels to exceed 0.1 ppm. For more information, contact: 


Best Pollution Prevention Practices

Objective:

Eliminate major sources of formaldehyde in structures, including composites made with urea-formaldehyde glue and urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI), which is now banned in the U.S.


Practices:

  • Select pressed wood products rated for low formaldehyde emissions. Select exterior materials (plywood, oriented strand board, wafer board, etc.) that are rated Exterior, Exposure 1, or meet HUD specifications. These materials contain phenol-formaldehyde glues, which off-gas very little formaldehyde.
  • Select interior materials (underlayment, cabinet substrates, etc.) that do not off-gas formaldehyde.
  • Seal the exposed surfaces of formaldehyde-containing materials against moisture entry with waterproof or water-resistant finishes (paint, wood finishes, counter tops, or floor coverings).
  • Seal subflooring particle board.
  • Install a dehumidifier.

Contacts

Reduce Pathogens and Biological Contaminants
Often overlooked in our concern about chemicals are naturally-occurring contaminants such as mold, mildew, and dust mites that cause diseases and allergies. Excessive moisture levels in the home contribute to the growth of biocontaminants. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends a relative humidity of 30%-60%.


Best Pollution Prevention Practices

Objectives:

  1. Prevent the spread of common household disease organisms and allergens.
  2. Control the habitat and food supply of dust mites and other biological contaminants.
  3. Prevent damp conditions that facilitate the growth of biological contaminants.

Practices:

  • Avoid carpet whenever possible because it harbors dust mites, a potent allergen. Use wood, linoleum, vinyl, or tile.
  • Install a ventilation system capable of maintaining relative humidity at 45%-50%. Moist conditions support a variety of biological pollutants.
  • To prevent condensation, install energy-efficient windows (double glazed with an air infiltration rating of 0.04 or less, 0.18 or less for double-hung),
  • insulate well, and use draft-free construction practices.
  • Install exterior drainage control and insulation in below-grade walls.
  • Install a heat recovery ventilator or forced-air add-on that provides a minimum of 0.35 air changes per hour and adjustable air flow rates.
  • In kitchens and bathrooms, install fans vented outdoors. Vent clothes dryers to the outdoors.
  • Dehumidify, ventilate, or add heat in new construction until moisture in drywall, paint, lumber, and concrete cures out.
  • Control common allergens such as pollen, dander, and fungi with air filtration. Use high-efficiency media and electrostatic filters to remove small particles from the air.


Keep Combustion By-Products Out of Living Spaces
Car exhaust can be a source of pollution in homes with attached garages. Furnaces and gas appliances can also cause indoor air quality problems. Methane, carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and nitric oxide (NO) are combustion by- products that can accumulate in buildings that are not properly ventilated.

Carbon oxides can cause fatigue, headaches, confusion, dizziness, and nausea. High concentrations of nitrogen oxides can lead to acute lung dysfunction and increased respiratory infections in young children.

Although no standards exist for nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, ASHRAE Standard 62-1989 recommends 1,000 ppm as the upper comfort limit for carbon dioxide. 


Best Pollution Prevention Practices

Objectives:

  1. Keep living areas free of auto exhaust and combustion by-products from furnaces and appliances.
  2. Eliminate sources of wood smoke, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxides.

Practices:

  • Separate the garage from the house or seal all air leaks between the garage and house. Acceptable sealants include water-based caulks and urethane foam. Air-tight drywall can be used, but sealant must be applied to the top and bottom plates of adjoining walls and door framing prior to drywall installation. Acceptable sealants include foam gasket and non-hardening caulks.
  • When placing a furnace in the garage, balance heating supplies and returns so that return air is not drawn into living areas from the garage.
  • Install woodstoves designed to prevent backdrafting. Select woodstoves that are certified to meet EPA emissions standards. Make sure that doors on all woodstoves fit tightly.
  • Eliminate gas appliances in living areas or select sealed-combustion gas appliances.
  • Install energy recovery ventilators or heat exchangers to circulate air within a building.
  • Vent NO2 sources to the outdoors. Install newer devices, which have lower NO2 emissions.
  • Control CO2 by venting outdoors. Install an exhaust fan vented to the outdoors over gas stoves.


Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
This section applies to contractors who install, service, maintain, or repair air conditioners, refrigerators, chillers, or freezers.

Many refrigerants used in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), both of which destroy the Earth's ozone layer. Title VI of the federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 calls for strict regulations on the use of CFCs and HCFCs. As of January 1996, CFCs have been banned from manufacture or importation. The EPA develops and enforces these regulations.

Regulations

  • Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, Section 608 Section of the federal statute requiring a national recycling and emission reduction program for ozone-depleting substances.
  • 40 CFR Part 82 Federal regulations on use and handling of refrigerants.

Under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, EPA has established regulations that:

  • Require service practices that maximize recycling of CFCs and HCFCs during servicing and disposal of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.
  • Prohibit venting of refrigerants to the atmosphere while maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of air conditioning or refrigeration equipment.
  • Mandate certification of service technicians. EPA has developed four levels of certification ranging from only servicing small appliances to servicing all types of equipment.
  • Require contractor and re-claimer certification as well as certification of recovery and recycling equipment.
  • Restrict the sale of refrigerant to certified technicians only.
  • Require the repair of substantial leaks in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment with a charge greater than 50 pounds.
  • Require detailed record keeping on the quantity of refrigerant added to equipment containing more than 50 pounds of charge.
  • Establish safe disposal requirements. These include special procedures on the removal of refrigerants from goods that enter the wastestream with the charge intact, such as home refrigerators and room air conditioners.

Contractors are liable for violations to the Clean Air Act. Civil penalties can be up to $25,000 per day per violation. Equipment owners and contractors should protect themselves by hiring service technicians who hold CFC certification from an EPA-approved organization.  For more information on these requirements, contact your regional EPA office.

Contacts


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