Around the Corner: RRP Expansion to Commercial Buildings

Feb. 8, 2011 -- If you thought the tentacles of RRP had subsided … guess again.  Currently under consideration is the expansion of RRP rule to commercial and public buildings.  But as the EPA considers its expansion, many contractors are looking at how to use the situation to expand their business. 

As the industry evaluates the additional expansion of RRP mandates, it's interesting to note these revisions were a result of a lawsuit filed by a group of special interest groups:  the Sierra Club, , the Center for Environmental Health,,  New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation,, New York Public Interest Research Group, and Make the Road New York.

These groups sued the EPA because they felt the RRP Rule did not go far enough in protecting the health and well-being of children.  In a settlement agreement, there are three areas that, most likely, will be added to the current RRP regulations;

  1. Removal of the Opt-Out provision (already completed)
  2. Clearance Testing   (Rule Finalization by July 2011)
  3. Expansion of RRP to all pre-1978 commercial and public buildings, exterior and interior . (Rule proposal by 12/2011)

The actual proposal on how the EPA will expand the RRP Rule to include the exterior and interior areas of commercial and public buildings will be issued to the public by December 15, 2011. The final action on this proposal will be July 15, 2013.

Unfortunately the deadline for submitting comments has passed, (July, 2010), but you can read submitted comments at

One of the responses submitted before the deadline was from The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). The association  formed a coalition of associations and organizations including the Real Estate Roundtable; Associated Builders and Contractors; Associated  General Contractors of America; Building Owners and Manager Association International; CCIM Institute; International Council of Shopping Centers; Institute of Real Estate Management; NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association; National Assoc. of Home Builders; National Society of Real Estate Investment Trusts; National Assoc. of Realtors; National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association; Painting  & Decorating Contractors of America; Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contratctors-National Assoc.; and Window and Door Manufacturers Association.

The AGC's coalition's comments included many salient points in opposition to expanding RRP to commercial and public buildings.

They questioned the scope of the EPA's authority in this area, as "the Toxic Substances Control Act limits the EPA's authority to promulgate regulations that govern RRP activities in commercial and public buildings"  and  urged certain information be evaluated before moving ahead, such as:

  • Completion of the congressionally-mandated study of RRP in commercial and public buildings.
  • The different patterns of exposure to lead-based paint hazards in commercial and public buildings vs. residential
  • Consideration that there was limited use of lead-based paint in commercial buildings since 1978
  • The potential impact that this imposition of regulatory requirements may have on other national priorities (i.e. energy efficiency).
  • The potential consequences of any additional regulations

Even with well-presented arguments before them, many look at the past performance of the EPA, and believe the RRP expansion to commercial and public buildings will definitely occur.

So now the question is, since the time for submitting comments has expired and the rule will not go into effect until 2013, what is the best course of action for renovators and contractors today?

Many marketing experts would suggest calling upon your commercial accounts and public building locations to start laying the groundwork for what is coming down the road.  Create a sales approach to help your customers plan ahead and get needed renovation work done this year and into 2012 before the new rules take effect.

For many, this approach may create a silver lining in dealing with the extended tentacles of the RRP Rule.