National News: Energy Efficiency Retrofitting Threatened By Lead Paint Rule

Federal weatherization and energy efficiency retrofit programs being developed by Congress and the White House are likely to come to a crashing halt on April 22, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s Lead Paint: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule goes into effect.

The new EPA regulation will require contractors working on projects — including weatherization and energy efficiency retrofits — that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and schools built before 1978 to be trained, certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. But the EPA has fallen behind on approving training programs so that contractors can complete the individual certification requirements.

It has estimated that about 200,000 remodelers, painters, electricians, HVAC technicians and others working in the targeted homes and buildings need to be certified by April 22 but only about 120 training companies have been approved so far. 

“If the Administration doesn’t delay the rule or provide a safe harbor for firms making an effort to comply with the regulation, the efforts to stimulate jobs growth with weatherization incentives will fail,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Donna Shirey, CGR, CAPS, CGP, president of Shirey Contracting in Issaquah, Wash.

“The EPA has not provided enough trainers to certify the workforce in time for their deadline. After April 22 most contractors will not be able to work legally in homes, which would completely halt any weatherization efforts.”

NAHB Members Ahead in Awareness of Rule

According to the latest Remodeling Market Index survey, 90% of remodelers are aware of the EPA’s new lead paint regulation going into effect on April 22.

Eighty-one percent of the remodelers surveyed said they learned about the rule from trade associations like NAHB. Conversely, only 2% of the remodelers said they learned about the rule from the EPA.

The survey results suggest that the EPA still has a long way to go in educating remodelers, subcontractors, consumers and others affected by the regulation.

“NAHB has done a great job of educating the members and the industry at-large about the lead paint regulation,” said Shirey. “Our members are ahead of the curve in awareness, obtaining training and preparing for the rule.”

Unfortunately the EPA has not only failed to reach out to remodelers, but it has remained silent on educating consumers, said Shirey.

“Consumers are completely unaware of this rule and the resulting increase in remodeling costs. This means they are very likely to hire unscrupulous contractors or do the work themselves, which will put them at greater risk of lead exposure.”

Costs for rule compliance include additional liability insurance, training, worker hours, equipment and record keeping expenses.

Remodelers Should Submit Company Certification Application

The survey results also found that remodelers on average subcontract half of their work and use an average of 18 specialty trade contractors in a year. EPA officials have indicated that these subcontractors may also need training and certification to operate legally on projects where lead paint is disturbed. 

The individual certification is based on eight hours of classroom and hands-on instruction — and is separate from the company certification, which requires a completed application and a fee of $300.

As the April 22 deadline for compliance approaches, remodelers should complete paperwork to register their firm with the EPA. Remodelers can submit the firm certification before obtaining training and certification for workers. Because the firm processing can take up to 90 days, it is important to send this paperwork in as soon as possible.

For more information about the lead paint rule, visit www.nahb.org/leadpaint.

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