Managing the Risks of Uncertainty

Regulatory uncertainty is a reality in this business. Here’s what you can do about it.

Navigating today’s regulatory environment can feel like an endless obstacle course, full of surprising twists & turns. Whether you’re a building owner, a property manager, or a construction firm, it can be a challenge to stay ahead of regulatory guidance and the laws that are designed to protect public health.

Locally, we have seen several examples recently where building owners and managers have faced costly consequences related to sporadic enforcement of environmental & health regulations.

For example, after years of minimal enforcement, Washington D.C. policymakers are working to step up mold inspections by the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Similarly, the Montgomery County (MD) Department of Housing and Community Affairs has been conducting an “inspection surge” of multifamily housing to identify properties that are out of compliance on a variety of issues. Building owners and managers with a documented history of good faith efforts on environmental management will be in a stronger position when facing regulatory enforcement actions.

Federal regulators sometimes send mixed signals. For example, did you know that U.S. EPA is considering a ban on asbestos, but is NOT considering exposure concerns from existing asbestos in buildings? The agency considers asbestos unsafe — it’s a known carcinogen — but does not provide regulatory guidance for managing legacy asbestos-containing building materials. Instead, EPA is proposing a process to allow approval of “new uses” of asbestos in the future. Meanwhile, building owners are investing billions in asbestos removal to assure the safety of workers, employees, tenants, and the public.

KEM offers clients a simple recipe for staying on top of environmental health concerns and ahead of regulatory compliance issues:

  • PROACTIVE STRATEGIES for identifying & preventing root causes behind water intrusion/mold, legionella, lead poisoning & other common threats
  • THIRD PARTY DOCUMENTATION to demonstrate good faith efforts for managing health threats
  • PREVENTION OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES related to building renovations & technology updates that can impact indoor air quality & other environmental health factors

Whether you’re managing risks related to lead dust, mold infestation, silica dust, PCBs, or legacy asbestos in your building, proactive strategies and sound documentation are essential to staying in compliance, regardless of the ebbs and flows of regulatory agencies.