COVID-19 is Driving a Trend Away from Traditional Office Workspaces
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a dramatic shift in workplace geography as workers moved from centralized office locations to home-based offices. Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom, a leading researcher studying the work-from-home trend, notes: “[An] incredible 42 percent of the U.S. labor force is now working from home full time.” Bloom also suggests that new office building construction will be altered post-COVID-19 based on an increased desire for social distancing. He states, “instead of building more office skyscrapers – which has been the dominant theme over the past 40 years – I predict that COVID-19 will dramatically shift the trend to industrial parks with low-rise buildings.”
The predicted shift to new office spaces at former industrial parks matches established construction trends in the residential and mixed-use building sectors. Due to inexpensive land, tax credits and other incentives, redevelopment of these former brownfields into living and retail space has been robust during the past decade.
Increase in Risks to Exposure of Potential Toxic Chemical Vapors
This office worker migration trend will result in a significant increased risk for worker exposure to potentially toxic chemical vapors left behind from past industrial activity. Chemical vapors are formed when substances containing chlorinated solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons or other volatile compounds commonly used in industry are spilled or improperly disposed of. Over time, these chemicals migrate through soil, contaminating groundwater and forming chemical vapor plumes.
Building occupants might be at risk of exposure to indoor air containing these vapors if a building is constructed within a contaminant vapor plume footprint. Inhalation of chemical vapors is often hazardous to human health, even at indoor air concentrations not detected by smell.
Effective Contaminant Vapor Barriers Address Risk
Land Science’s vapor intrusion mitigation systems incorporate the latest technological advances to offer the highest chemical protection available. These advanced systems comprise patented, state-of-the-art materials, including metalized films and nitrile-modified asphalt sealants that offer up to one-hundred times more chemical protection than other vapor intrusion mitigation systems like plastic sheets with taped seams and spray-applied waterproofing “boots.”
While offering the highest level of protection against vapor intrusion, these systems are often easier and faster to install and are priced competitively. Brownfield property developers are rapidly increasing the incorporation of these systems into their building plans as a means to address any potential vapor intrusion risk, known or unknown, and to ensure development stays on schedule.
Preemptive Installation May Be Less Expensive Than Investigation and Monitoring
A vapor mitigation system’s cost is insignificant relative to a new building project, and Land Science’s certified applicators can install these advanced systems quickly without delaying construction.
Comparative cost analyses have shown that it is often less expensive to proactively install a contaminant vapor barrier rather than investigate and monitor whether it is needed. Once installed, these vapor mitigation systems provide a high level of assurance for personal safety. According to the U.S. EPA’s Brownfields Technology Primer: “Incorporating relatively inexpensive mitigation (prevention) techniques into the construction of new buildings, rather than retrofitting them later, will result in significant cost savings and help avoid the occurrence of vapor intrusion in the future.”
ABOUT REGENESIS and LAND SCIENCE: Founded in 1994, REGENESIS is an expert provider of in situ soil, groundwater, and vapor intrusion remediation products and services. Land Science, a division of REGENESIS, offers a full line of vapor intrusion mitigation technologies and is the safe and effective choice for leading engineering, construction, and environmental consulting firms serving a broad range of clients, including developers, insurance companies, manufacturers, municipalities, regulatory agencies, and federal, state and local governments.
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