APPENDIX C
WORKSHOP ON ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH REGULATIONS AS SOURCES OF FACILITY OBSOLESCENCE

In the course of its discussions on facility obsolescence, the committee noted that new issues arise regarding both the environmental and health concerns that have an impact on facilities management and adaptability. These issues may render facilities effectively obsolete, especially when government laws and regulations, formally stated agency criteria and guidelines, or the knowledge and methods that comprise current professional practice change substantially from those in effect when a facility was designed and constructed.

Such change may necessitate new or altered materials, building components, and construction procedures, as numerous examples illustrate. Passage of clean air legislation in the 1970s, for example, led to substantial reduction in the incineration of solid waste at individual facilities and, consequently, increased demands on landfill disposal sites. Similarly, concerns about the carcinogenic effects of asbestos have made removal of this once-popular fireproofing material a major expense for many building owners. The forthcoming ban on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), fostered by concern for the earth's upper atmosphere ozone layer, is motivating a search for new materials and equipment for climate control and fire suppression in buildings, which may then render obsolete materials and equipment now in place.

These changes in the requirements that buildings must meet constitute one of the most clearly defined causes of obsolescence. Although new government regulations (particularly those adopted as part of a building code) may include a "grandfather clause" that exempts existing buildings, the new requirements



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The Fourth Dimension in Building: Strategies for Minimizing Obsolescence APPENDIX C WORKSHOP ON ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH REGULATIONS AS SOURCES OF FACILITY OBSOLESCENCE In the course of its discussions on facility obsolescence, the committee noted that new issues arise regarding both the environmental and health concerns that have an impact on facilities management and adaptability. These issues may render facilities effectively obsolete, especially when government laws and regulations, formally stated agency criteria and guidelines, or the knowledge and methods that comprise current professional practice change substantially from those in effect when a facility was designed and constructed. Such change may necessitate new or altered materials, building components, and construction procedures, as numerous examples illustrate. Passage of clean air legislation in the 1970s, for example, led to substantial reduction in the incineration of solid waste at individual facilities and, consequently, increased demands on landfill disposal sites. Similarly, concerns about the carcinogenic effects of asbestos have made removal of this once-popular fireproofing material a major expense for many building owners. The forthcoming ban on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), fostered by concern for the earth's upper atmosphere ozone layer, is motivating a search for new materials and equipment for climate control and fire suppression in buildings, which may then render obsolete materials and equipment now in place. These changes in the requirements that buildings must meet constitute one of the most clearly defined causes of obsolescence. Although new government regulations (particularly those adopted as part of a building code) may include a "grandfather clause" that exempts existing buildings, the new requirements

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The Fourth Dimension in Building: Strategies for Minimizing Obsolescence come into force when the building is renovated. Sometimes the new requirements become effective more quickly by influencing the expectations of building users, purchasers, or lenders who will demand—through market decisions—that the new requirements be met. Even if the new requirements do not immediately influence market values or the range of uses to which an existing building may be put, there is an implicit reduction in the performance the building provides, relative to other facilities that meet the newer requirement. Regulations promulgated during a building's design or construction may necessitate both costly delays and additional work in redesign. Sometimes these regulations are applied to all buildings, requiring that existing structures be retrofitted, with costs at times exceeding those for new construction.22 Designers who foresee new regulations perhaps could make provisions in their new facilities that would save time and money or would avoid adverse effects when the regulations or concerns actually come into force. Early recognition of new concerns certainly would give responsible officials and the building industry more time to develop technically effective and economical responses that would aid in avoiding obsolescence. THE WORKSHOP ON FORESEEABLE PROBLEMS In order to consider whether there are actions that federal agencies or others might take to foresee more effectively these causes of obsolescence, the BRB held a 1-day workshop in Washington, D.C., on July 30, 1991. Participants in the workshop (see box) were invited to discuss the issues of new environmental and health concerns that can lead to obsolescence and, particularly, to address the following questions: What environmental and health issues or topics are likely to become significant in public policy or in regulation influencing building design or operation during this decade? What will be the asbestos or PCB23 of 22   Although not really an example of obsolescence, regulations requiring permits for new construction sometimes have the effect of forcing property owners to reconstruct rather than demolish and replace older facilities—spending substantially greater amounts in the process—to avoid lengthy or politically onerous permitting procedures. 23   Polychlorinated biphenol, a material used in older electrical transformers and found to be a source, under certain conditions, of the purportedly toxic chemical dioxin.

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The Fourth Dimension in Building: Strategies for Minimizing Obsolescence Table 3 Roster of Participants David Cotts Chief, Building Maintenance and Repair The World Bank Washington, D.C. Donald G. Iselin U.S.N. (Retired) Consultant Santa Barbara, Calif. Katherine Cudlipp Washington, D.C. Andrew C. Lemer, Ph.D. Director Building Research Board Washington, D.C. R. Elizabeth Evers Senior Attorney Marriott Corporation Bethesda, Md. Kevin Yale Teichman Office of Technology Transfer and Regulatory Support U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Washington, D.C. Harold T. Glaser, P.E. Vice President James M. Montgomery Consulting Engineers Inc. Pasadena, Calif. Edward Lee Thackston Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tenn. Harry Gordon Principal Burt Hill, Kosar Rittlemann Associates Washington, D.C. Thomas Walton, Ph.D. Consultant Building Research Board Washington, D.C. Terry A. Hayes Terry A. Hayes Associates Culver City, Calif. Jacqueline B. Wender School of Humanities and Sciences Stanford University Stanford, Calif. Daniel L. Hightower U.S. Public Health Service Washington, D.C.   tomorrow? What issues do knowledgeable people foresee as posing threats to health, safety, or environmental quality that may warrant new legislation and regulatory requirements? What are the stages or processes through which such topics or issues arise, gain professional and public attention, and motivate new legislation, regulation, or other change in public policy? How does technical information

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The Fourth Dimension in Building: Strategies for Minimizing Obsolescence indicating a potential problem emerge? How do responsible authorities and policy makers become aware and judge the significance of problems? How long does it take for this process to occur? How do these topics or issues come to have a specific influence on building design, construction, operations, or maintenance practices? What roles are played by individual professionals, professional organizations, standards and model code organizations, regulatory bodies, public officials, the news media, advocacy groups, financial institutions (and, in government, budget agencies), or others? Is there value to responding to issues before they are addressed by legislation or regulation? To whom does this value accrue? What are the scope and scale of anticipated impact? Is it practical and worthwhile to anticipate and to prepare to act in advance on emerging regulatory or policy issues? Can ways be found to anticipate and to prepare cost effectively for future environmental and occupational health concerns that will affect building design and construction? Can a government agency (or private institution) implement an early warning system? If so, how? Workshop participants addressed each of these sets of questions in turn and drew primarily on their own experience to suggest answers. The results of the workshop, summarized here, were presented to the full study committee and became a part of the committee's basis for its conclusions and recommendations. PENDING CONCERNS A wide variety of potential concerns can be found in the technical literature and the popular press. Table 2 (found in Chapter 2 of this document) summarizes the concerns of which BRB staff and workshop participants were particularly aware. Participants observed that the source of many of these concerns is the increasing sensitivity and sophistication of procedures that measure trace chemicals and fine particles, that detect physiological changes in laboratory animals and humans, and that mathematically correlate observed environmental and health effects with possible causes. One participant suggested that the newest discoveries in analytical chemistry, in particular, may be a powerful predictor of the environmental or health concerns that will emerge within 3 to 5 years. Other participants proposed that it is probably impossible, and in any case would be uneconomical, to try to foresee the many changes that might occur during the potentially long service lifetime of a new structure—typically 30 to 40 years—but that surveillance to identify issues emerging over the shorter term of 3 to 5 years could yield valuable results.

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The Fourth Dimension in Building: Strategies for Minimizing Obsolescence ISSUE DEVELOPMENT Of course, the identification of a new concern does not necessarily assure that the concern will become important in public consciousness or that new regulations or changes in building practice will result. The development process of such concerns from initial discovery through scientific exploration, public consideration, and government and private sector response is complex, with many participants and significant uncertainties. Figure C-1 Downs's "issue-attention cycle" characterizes the sequence through which societal problems evolve. Workshop participants asserted that there is no really typical life cycle for the emergence of environmental and health issues, although the sense of crisis that develops around some issues often does mark the beginning of an often-repeated cycle of heightening interest, followed, eventually, by increasing

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The Fourth Dimension in Building: Strategies for Minimizing Obsolescence boredom (Downs, 1972). This issue-attention cycle is illustrated in Figure C-1. A problem must be dramatic and exciting to maintain public interest, and not all major social issues go through this cycle. Interest in some issues dies when the cost of addressing them is found to exceed the anticipated benefits. Other issues are resolved, to the satisfaction of a majority of participants, when regulations or other means are adopted. Such issues are unlikely to re-emerge unless new information leads to a significant reassessment of the problem. In the progression toward resolution or partial resolution of issues, the levels of technical uncertainty will influence the willingness of the public and the professions to accept the costs of taking action. When these uncertainties are substantial, costly actions are justifiable when they have merits beyond those associated with the issue at hand. For example, the banning of CFCs, which contribute to global warming, is said to be worthwhile since it will also slow the degradation of the ozone layer (Skolnikoff, 1990). Workshop participants noted that issues having a wider impact or a greater level of public interest often will take longer to resolve. When many interests are likely to be affected, political debate may be extensive before a satisfactory resolution is found, particularly at the federal level. It is not unusual for 2 to 3 years to pass from the time articles appear in the press until federal legislation is enacted that addresses the issue at hand. On the other hand, when there is a strong emotional element to the issue and a clearly identifiable course of action, and when the costs or other adverse effects of that course have limited distribution, issues may be resolved more quickly. For example, the issue of asbestos removal in public schools emerged over a short time period because children were affected, the costs of removal were to be borne largely by local government bodies, and only a few private corporations were directly at risk in matters of legal liability. The Arlington County (Virginia) School Board, for example, voted for complete removal of asbestos at a cost exceeding by ten times the amount that was recommended as needed to prudently manage risk by encapsulation and selective removal. The board's president explained that whereas the board was prepared to accept the experts' position that removal was not necessary, it was not in a position to educate the public about risk and thus felt compelled to vote in accord with the public's perception on the matter. Workshop participants observed that the state of California has, for some time, been a bellwether in identification and resolution of environmental and health concerns that influence buildings and building practices. The U.S. Congress often finds it easier to act nationally when the political feasibility of action previously has been demonstrated, and many states or local governments may similarly follow the lead of others. Other states (e.g., Oregon and Maine) recently have begun to take a more independent leadership role, and industry has sometimes welcomed federal action as a way of unifying an otherwise scattered and diverse profusion of new localized regulations.

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The Fourth Dimension in Building: Strategies for Minimizing Obsolescence HOW ISSUES COME TO INFLUENCE BUILDING PRACTICES Environmental and health issues influence buildings and building practice most frequently when they are reflected in building codes or professional design guidelines. Although building codes typically are enacted at the local level, they are based primarily on national or regional models. Unless legislation directs that a particular course of action be taken, study and discussion of benefits and costs of alternative courses will progress within the professional community, generally at a national level, until some consensus is reached. Issues that are already seemingly well understood and thoroughly addressed in regulation are unlikely to lead to facilities obsolescence. For example, grounding mechanisms for electric wiring have evolved with the introduction of polarized plugs and outlets, but older buildings continue to provide acceptably safe accommodation for users and their new electrical equipment. In those cases where public or regulatory agency concerns motivate regulations or changes in practice, despite a lack of technical information and generally accepted professional consensus on an issue's severity, the obsolescence impact may develop rapidly. However, once the impact is felt, new information is less likely to lead to substantial additional impact. For example, despite the continued scientific debate concerning the health hazards of asbestos in buildings, many public agencies require removal of all asbestos from older structures undergoing renovation. Similarly, private banks and other lenders often insist on asbestos removal as a condition for providing financing, regardless of whether the responsible building code officials would require such action. Eventual consensus may not change the impact of this issue on existing buildings. Issues for which information is still being gathered or for which no generally accepted consensus has emerged warrant attention as potential causes of obsolescence. Building professionals have an opportunity in such cases to develop information on likely consequences of various regulatory responses, in terms of obsolescence that may be caused in existing buildings. Although designers may seek to avoid those decisions not matching possible future regulations, the costs of aggressive response to emerging problems may be out of proportion to the benefits to the owner. Workshop participants noted that only larger institutional owners (e.g., large corporations, insurance companies, or government agencies) are likely to have a substantial incentive to take actions needed to avoid future obsolescence caused by emerging environmental and health issues, if those actions entail an increase in construction costs.

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The Fourth Dimension in Building: Strategies for Minimizing Obsolescence ANTICIPATING NEW ISSUES AND REGULATIONS The planning and design of government facilities typically occur over a period of 18 to 36 months.24 From initial planning to occupancy, the time can be 3 to 5 years. Building upgrading and use changes typically occur at 3 to 15-year intervals. Workshop participants noted that environmental and health issues likely to influence facility obsolescence generally evolve over a 3-to 5-year period and that impending changes possibly may be anticipated over such a time period. It seems plausible, then, that designers make a special effort to consider emerging issues that will have an impact on building systems or design features with service lives typically exceeding 5 years. Increased initial costs to avoid future obsolescence of such systems or design features may be more than repaid by future savings. For example, air conditioning chiller units, expected to provide service for more than 15 to 20 years, currently are available that will accept those refrigerants likely to replace CFCs. This equipment is designed to operate efficiently with the new refrigerants when they become commercially available but will operate suboptimally with refrigerants currently available. Workshop participants suggested that the higher costs of suboptimal operation, incurred over the likely 3 to 5 years until new refrigerants are available, are a wise investment in view of the impending ban on CFCs. Design features and building systems that normally are substantially altered or replaced at regular intervals can be upgraded to meet new requirements. The owner is then less likely to incur the substantially higher costs associated with failing to consider future change influencing such systems. This special effort involves scanning appropriate sources to detect emerging issues and then assessing those issues' implications for new construction or for reconfiguration and rehabilitation projects currently in planning or design. Such scanning or screening of emerging issues provides the basis for an assessment, as part of the normal design process, of alternative courses of action for avoiding obsolescence caused by environmental or health concerns. 24   This information was provided to the committee by agency liaison representatives. On the whole, the development periods for government facilities are longer than those for comparable private-sector facilities. Government agencies encounter delays introduced by the budgetary and appropriations processes. In addition, private-sector owners have the option of procuring both design and construction without soliciting proposals from competitive suppliers.

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The Fourth Dimension in Building: Strategies for Minimizing Obsolescence The EPA has a definite role in this scanning process. Agency staff currently are active, in professional forums and through informal professional networks, in alerting designers to emerging environmental problems and likely governmental responses. Plans for establishing a more formal clearinghouse operation have been made as well. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have comprehensive responsibility for the full range of environmental and health issues that may have an impact on building obsolescence. The Department of Energy, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and state and local government agencies are among those participating in efforts to address the problems cited in Table 2, and additional agencies could become involved as new problems are identified. The principal responsibility for screening falls to the primary beneficiary of the results: the owner and the designers seeking to meet the owner's needs. However, because the effort required may exceed the resources available to the designer on a single project, workshop participants proposed that professional organizations (e.g., the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and others) may be effective leaders in identifying newly emerging concerns that could lead to facility obsolescence. Workshop participants also suggested that some federal agency, or a group of agencies acting through such an organization as the Federal Construction Council, could undertake this scanning function for federal agencies. Private business also might be able to provide this scanning function as a commercial service. However it is done, there also must be effective communication systems to ensure that information is disseminated to those facilities professionals who can use it. Some professional and trade groups already have begun efforts that could evolve into such a screening activity. The AIA, for example, has established an environment committee to develop a resource guide for architects, focusing on the environmental implications of various building materials, and the Electric Power Research Institute and the EPA are working together to alert energy engineers to utilities management issues having an impact on the global environment. Workshop participants agreed that the rates of change in both our knowledge of environmental and health problems and the technology of construction and building systems make it worthwhile to seek to avoid obsolescence over the short to medium term. Designers, whether working for government agencies or for private facilities owners, should give attention, in planning and design, to emerging environmental and health problems that may cause obsolescence of facility systems.

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The Fourth Dimension in Building: Strategies for Minimizing Obsolescence References Downs, A. 1972. Up and down with ecology—''The issue-attention cycle.'' The Public Interest 28 (Summer):38–50. Skolnikoff, E. 1990. Policy gridlock on global warming. Foreign Policy 79:71–93.