With more than 30 years of experience at Ninyo & Moore Geotechnical and Environmental Sciences Consultants, Inc., Scott Kurtz has been involved in nearly every facet of the company’s business. As its Director of Environmental Sciences, he is responsible for the performance and growth of the company’s Environmental Divisions, which includes overseeing work across 18 offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. He shares, “As Director, I’m also focused on strategic positioning and in assisting all of the environmental divisions with top line issues.” Learn more in our client spotlight.
Preemptive Vapor Mitigation Protects Students from Potential Exposure
This case study reviews a high school that has been a fixture in its Southern California community since it was built in the 1930’s. Due to onsite pesticide use, a vapor intrusion mitigation system was necessary to protect students and staff. The environmental team responsible for treating the potential vapor intrusion identified the historical use of pesticides on site and voluntarily sought a remedial solution to protect the site’s future occupants. In efforts to protect students and staff against potentially harmful vapor intrusion as a result of historic releases, a vapor intrusion barrier system was proposed as the most appropriate remedial approach.
This case study features the following:
- High school is located in an urban Southern California area with more than 3,000 students.
- Due to onsite pesticide use, a vapor intrusion mitigation system was necessary to protect students and staff.
- The vapor barrier was applied throughout the 14,000 square foot library building located on-campus.
For Garnet Johnson, Director of Remediation Services at Triterra, an environmental consulting firm based in Lansing, MI, a career path leading to environmental remediation began with a different destination, but ultimately, he’s happy where his professional journey has since taken him. That’s because Johnson, who joined Triterra in 2017, did not initially plan on a career in environmental remediation when he entered college. He shares, “I earned my BS in Biology with an Environmental Studies minor from Alma College in 2003, and started out in the Due Diligence industry doing Phase I projects for cell phone towers throughout the U.S. As my experience and career progressed, I focused more towards Phase II work and Leaking Underground Storage Tank sites. Looking back, it is amazing to see my path to Director of Remediation Services at Triterra, and it’s one that I feel fortunate to have followed.” Prior to working at Triterra, Johnson was an Environmental Scientist for a consulting firm, a Project Professional with a civil engineering firm, and prior to that served as a Project Manager at an environmental services firm. He continues, “I began working in the environmental industry in 2003 and travelled across the country completing Phase I ESAs in 39 different states over an 18-month period. I decided in 2005 that the travel was too extensive and accepted a position at an environmental consulting firm with specialization in leaking underground storage tank sites. Since that time, I have focused on both due diligence services and leaking underground storage tank sites.” In his role at Triterra, Johnson manages the firm’s Remediation and Investigation Group Staff, which primarily includes overseeing investigation and remediation projects, mentoring staff, and attracting new clients. He continues, “What I enjoy most about my job is working with the staff and creating unique solutions for complex problems. It is very rewarding to know that our solutions are often the key to making a development project feasible.”
When it comes to working with Land Science®, Johnson feels the company’s suite of products address a wide range of needs and challenges. “With regard to vapor intrusion”, he says, “Land Science has an effective solution for anything we’ve encountered, or likely will encounter relating to vapor intrusion. As an example, we had a very public project with a high-level of scrutiny from our governing agencies. Land Science was an invaluable partner and helped solve numerous complex vapor intrusion issues with the added pressure of looming construction deadlines and public review.” He adds, “I look forward to continuing to work with them on many projects in the future.”
Currently, Triterra uses Land Science vapor barrier systems at most of its new construction sites requiring vapor mitigation, due to their constructability under various scenarios. He shares, “Most important is the testing data that supports chemical resistant requirements established by the State of Michigan, and ultimately knowing that our clients can provide a safe environment for their customers. We are looking forward to the advantages Nitra-Seal® and TerraShield® can offer to the market.” He also looks forward to continuing to assist Triterra in achieving its goals, both long-term and short-term, and notes that the company has grown an average of 25% each year for the last 10 years. He continues, “We would like to maintain that consistent healthy growth. One of our biggest strengths is our office culture, and as a leadership group we have agreed that we want to maintain our healthy ‘family style’ culture. Prior to working at Triterra I was working from home. I was not looking to change that situation when Triterra approached me, however, I fell in love with the work environment here. Although my work has its challenges, it is much more enjoyable to work on those challenges with a group of people you enjoy being around.” To stay abreast of the latest industry trends and technologies, he regularly attends webinars, presentations and conferences. “We can’t provide the most comprehensive solutions to our client’s problems if we don’t know all the options that are available.”
Johnson resides in Alma, MI, and works out of Triterra’s Alma, MI office. He and his wife have three children. He shares, “All of our kids are active in youth sports and are currently learning to play piano. For family activities we enjoy summer camping trips and have a 3-acre pond on our property where the kids spend much of their summer break swimming, fishing and catching frogs. Our family garden provides us with most of our vegetables throughout the year. In addition, we added two beehives two years ago and we were able to harvest about 5 gallons of honey last year. My own hobbies include hunting, fishing, camping, running and most other outdoor activities.” He also serves as a volunteer softball and baseball coach for his community’s local youth programs. In addition, he and his family are very involved with their local school’s weekend backpack program that provides food for children who might not otherwise have anything to eat over the weekends.
When asked how he’s seen the industry change over the years, he feels new technology continues to play a vital role. “The environmental industry is always changing. We must be prepared to advance with all the new technologies and the ever-changing landscape of contaminant discovery and risk assessment.” And how would he encourage others to join in his field of study? He concludes, “I would suggest that anyone interested in our industry reach out to local consulting firms and ask a lot of questions. Anything to help build that relationship with people who are working in the field is a big help. I’ve found that many in our industry are happy to share their knowledge with other people. In addition, the answers to those questions can be used to help guide in your class choices and even help make decisions as to which area of consulting is of the most interest.”
Land Science is proud to have Garnet Johnson, Director of Remediation Services at Triterra, as a valued client and partner in environmental remediation, and appreciates his diverse background and approach in providing successful remediation outcomes for Land Science and its clients.
Former operations at a public high school in southern California noted the previous use of pesticides at the site. Due to prior pesticide use, contamination was monitored. In efforts to protect students and staff against potentially harmful vapor intrusion as a result of historic releases, a vapor intrusion barrier system was proposed as the most appropriate remedial approach. Retro-Coat, a vapor intrusion coating system offered by Land Science, was installed in the 14,000 square foot library located on the school campus.