The Final Review

Arlene Haas, JD

Find me on:

Posts by Arlene Haas, JD

EPA Proposed Rules:  Dust-Lead Hazard and Lead-Based Paint

Oct 16, 2018 9:00:00 AM

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) published proposed changes to the dust-lead hazard standards for floors and window sills on July 2, 2018. After many years of delay and a court order, the Agency finally proposed stricter standards that apply to most housing and child-occupied facilities constructed before 1978. However, EPA decided not to propose a change to the definition of lead-based paint despite calls for an update in light of current scientific data. Once adopted, the standards must be followed by those working on pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities.



Hong Kong Cityscape: 10 Things to Notice

Aug 9, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Hong Kong is  truly impressive and much can be learned from this ultra-modern Asian city. It is helpful to sometimes look abroad and consider a different way of approaching issues. The following are some of the factors that make Hong Kong such a unique city and noticeably different from many American urban areas.


The Need for Affordable Living: Rethinking Public Housing

Jul 19, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Many American cities are facing an affordable housing crisis that affects middle and low income families. Some cities and states are adopting laws and policies to encourage the private development of affordable housing. However, a more comprehensive public housing program, housing funded and administered by a government authority, would also help reduce the current shortage. In this post, we look at a few of the reasons public housing has encountered barriers in the United States and some public housing programs abroad.


A Look at Ongoing ADA Title III Litigation: Kohl’s Department Stores

Jun 26, 2018 9:30:00 AM

Kohl’s has been embroiled in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) litigation over the accessibility of its department stores. These cases demonstrate that even though private parties cannot receive a financial award for ADA Title III claims, retailers are still at risk of costly and protracted private party ADA litigation seeking equitable relief. Additionally, the cases also illustrate that even if there is no specific ADA standard for a particular store element, the element could still fall under the ADA’s purview if it is found to be a barrier to accessibility and its removal is readily achievable.


EPA Soon to Propose New Standards for Lead-Based Paint & Dust-Lead Hazards

Jun 5, 2018 10:00:00 AM

 The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) must update its definition of lead-based paint and standard for lead-contaminated dust hazards according to a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) decision filed at the end of 2017. EPA should promulgate proposed rules with updated standards by late June. These new requirements will have important implications for property owners; sellers, landlords, and real estate agents required to comply with the Lead-Residential Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Program; and those who work on most pre-1978 residences and child-occupied facilities. 


The Overlooked Benefits of District Energy Systems

Apr 12, 2018 1:15:20 PM

District energy systems (DES) for heating and cooling, particularly in dense urban areas, are a key vehicle for increasing sustainability. Although some forms of DES have existed for over a century, worldwide use is growing, and the technologies they employ are evolving. Project Drawdown ranks district heating, a form of DES, as number 27 in its 100 solutions to global warming. While district energy systems are being used throughout the United States, there is much room for growth and more needs to be done to promote their advantages.


Amendments to Title III: Is the ADA Being Gutted?

Apr 3, 2018 10:00:00 AM

On February 14, 2018, the House of Representatives passed a bill amending some of the enforcement provisions of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the ADA title prohibiting discrimination against those with disabilities by private entities providing public accommodations. The legislation, H.R. 620, ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (Amendments), has been the subject of alarming headlines such as, “The GOP Wants to Gut the Americans With Disabilities Act.” We thought we would take a closer look at the Amendments’ provisions and why they are raising so much concern.


Call for Architects to Increase Chicago Sustainability

Feb 28, 2018 10:08:35 AM

A recent program, City of Chicago: Pushing the Envelope, was designed to inspire the architectural community to do more to help Chicago meet its sustainability targets. The Illinois Green Alliance, AIA, Passive House Alliance Chicago, and Living Building Collaborative Chicago hosted the event on February 21, 2018, at the beautiful new West Loop offices of Skender Construction.


Update: Status of New Federal Energy Conservation Standards

Feb 23, 2018 9:00:00 AM

We are providing an update on six new energy conservation standards relevant to the building industry that the United States Department of Energy (DOE) delayed in response to directives by the Trump administration. In an April 2017 blog post, we highlighted important energy efficiency requirements DOE froze when they were close to completion. Now, largely due to litigation, all these rules have been fully adopted or are moving closer to being effective.


Rethinking Cement: Key to Lowering Greenhouse Gases

Feb 6, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Cement is projected to play a critical role in reducing greenhouse gases (GHG). Project Drawdown ranks alternative cement as number 36 in its 100 solutions to global warming. Given the large-scale use of cement across the globe, mitigating cement-related carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions would have a measurable impact on climate change. Yet, determining and implementing the best ways to reduce worldwide cement-related CO₂ is a complex process that will have a major impact on the building industry.


Preparing for Reductions in Air Conditioning’s Global Warming Potential

Jan 16, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Choosing the right kind of air conditioner or chiller in your building project will help you proactively prepare for future refrigerant requirements. Project Drawdown ranks refrigerant management as the number one solution to global warming. The refrigerant hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) is the primary culprit in climate change resulting from air conditioners and chillers.


NextGrid: Modernizing Illinois’ Electrical Grid

Dec 20, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Illinois embarked a collaborative planning process for the state’s electrical grid in in March of 2017, called Utility of the Future, “NextGrid” Grid Modernization Study (NextGrid). In order to properly modernize Illinois’ electrical grid. NextGrid is examining a variety of topics over an 18 month period and engaging a broad variety of stakeholders. Interested members of the building industry may actively participate in NextGrid by joining one of the NextGrid working groups or submitting comments during different stages of the NextGrid process.


The Building Industry’s Link to Climate Change: Northwestern’s 2017 Symposium

Nov 21, 2017 9:30:00 AM

Northwestern University’s Institute for Sustainability and Energy has sponsored the Northwestern Climate Change Symposium since 2009. The two-day 2017 symposium (November 9-10) had three simultaneous tracks: policy, science, and business. We attended both days and focused on the policy track. The presentations we are highlighting here touched on the building sector’s role in climate change and ways the industry could proactively reduce carbon dioxide emissions.


Trump’s Deregulation Efforts: How’s it Going?

Oct 17, 2017 10:00:00 AM

President Trump is finding that rolling back regulations is not so easy. Deregulation is a Trump administration priority, and the President’s first day in office his Chief of Staff notified agencies of a temporary freeze on all new regulations. This was followed by series of executive orders focused on cutting regulations, including the Executive Order, known as the Two-for-One Executive Order, requiring the repeal of at least two prior regulations and an incremental cost of zero for each newly adopted regulation. We have highlighted in several posts how Trump’s deregulation agenda may impact the building industry, and we thought we would review the status of this effort.


Lead-Based Paint RRP in Public and Commercial Buildings: Where Does it Stand?

Sep 6, 2017 8:00:00 AM

The United State Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) development of rules to address lead-based paint renovation, repair, and painting in public and commercial buildings has been a complex and contentious process. The Agency’s work on the rules has been significantly impacted by industry and public interest group litigation. Now, the Trump administration’s policies may also affect the regulation of lead paint renovation activities in non-residential buildings. The rules’ status has important implications for building owners and managers, contractors, developers, and anyone else involved in building maintenance and renovation.


New San Francisco Affordable Housing Incentives: Density Bonuses

Jun 27, 2017 8:00:00 AM

San Francisco recently adopted several new density bonus programs to help ease the city’s affordable housing crisis. Despite San Francisco’s economically diverse population, the city has one of the nation’s highest housing costs. San Francisco has taken various steps over the years to encourage affordable housing projects but much more needs to be done. In this post, we will look at the new San Francisco density bonus programs as well as the important role of the California Density Bonus Law.


Designing a Resilient City of the Future: Chicago Thrives!

May 3, 2017 8:00:00 AM

On April 20, 2017, U.S. Green Building Council-Illinois and American Institute of Architects-Chicago jointly sponsored Chicago Thrives! Resilience Symposium. As stated in the program’s marketing materials, “resilient design is emerging as the design challenge of our age.” The all-day program included a variety of presenters on different resiliency planning topics. Burnham attended the event and we will share some program highlights.


What is the Future of ENERGY STAR and Energy Efficiency?

Apr 4, 2017 8:00:00 AM

The ENERGY STAR program, critical to energy efficiency gains, is in jeopardy. The program is one of the environmental and energy programs slated to be eliminated under President Trump’s 2018 Budget proposal. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the 25-year-old voluntary program has saved Americans billions of dollars in utility costs. Although most people are familiar with ENERGY STAR products, there are other critical components of ENERGY STAR that will also be lost if the program is eliminated.


Integrating Health into the Chicago Building Code

Mar 14, 2017 8:00:00 AM

On March 2, 2017, Loyola University Chicago Center for the Human Rights of Children hosted a forum entitled Integrating Health into Chicago’s Building Code. The event brought together a variety of housing organizations, healthcare providers, government representatives, and other nonprofit organizations. National and local experts, including the United State Environmental Protection Agency’s Acting Regional Administrator, the Chicago Department of Building’s Commissioner, and both the Chicago Department of Health’s Medical Director and Commissioner, spoke during the program. Burnham attended this important event.


Impact of Two-for-One Executive Order on ADA Title III

Feb 22, 2017 8:00:00 AM

On January 30, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs (Executive Order), referred to as the two-for-one regulation order. This Executive Order has important implications for the development of future regulations such those implementing the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III, the section of the ADA covering private entities that operate as places of public accommodations or commercial facilities.