The Pacific Northwest is known to have a strong green hue on its outlook about the environment. It’s also known as an incubator to some of the most recognizable names in the world, including Starbucks, Boeing and that burgeoning computer software outfit Microsoft.
So it should come as no surprise that the 56th annual meeting of the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO), held in Seattle Aug. 26-29, would feature a mixture of “green” thinking coupled with business pragmatism.
The state regulators attending, along with their federal counterparts, industry suppliers and pest management professionals, took part in a program that looked into the future of how the pest management industry might service the next generation of customers, and sank deep into the details of current regulatory issues facing the industry.
The session that progressive pest professionals can count on as a definitive picture of the future of pest management focused on green building construction and management practices and LEED certification.
Effects of LEED? What impact will LEED have on the average PMP? When you consider the U.S. Green Building Council, the governing body for LEED certification on existing building and new construction projects, is accrediting 1.5 million square feet of commercial and residential space per day, the answer is clear — the time is now.
LEED credits are awarded to architects, builders and building managers who identify and implement sustainable building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions in their projects. As the council’s website declares, the international initiative is “redefining the way we think about the places where we live, work and learn.”
Bob Rosenberg, acting executive vice president for the National Pest Management Association and the association’s long-time regulatory affairs representative, says LEED is an important driver of green pest management initiatives in the United States.
“It presents a business opportunity for pest management professionals who want to carve out a niche service offering,” says Rosenberg. “LEED is a recognizable brand with consumers and PMPs offering services in accordance with their standards are in a position to charge a premium for those services.”
Rosenberg says industry professionals are gaining a better understanding of the LEED process and that the U.S. Green Building Council’s pending new qualification standards (LEED v4 is due out in 2013) will be more in line with EPA’s IPM policy and established green pest management standards like GreenPro, EcoWise and Green Shield (see related article at the bottom of the article).
“It will make it easier for PMPs’ clients to understand what constitutes a green pest service and obtain credits,” says Rosenberg.
Under existing standards, LEED credit can be earned in the Existing Buildings: Operations & Management (Indoor Environmental Quality EQ) category if pest management professionals and building managers design and implement programs that reduce the levels of chemicals, biological and particulate contaminants in a structure.
Sara Cederberg, manager, LEED, for the U.S. Green Building Council, says the group is working to strike a balance in the market and promote LEED as more than just energy and water conservation, and indoor air quality, and include pest management services.
“Sustainable or green building practices are about implementing a holistic approach to designing, constructing and maintaining a property,” says Cederberg.
Pest management professionals can assist owners and property managers by designing and implementing management programs based on the latest IPM strategies that emphasize inspection, monitoring, exclusion, sanitation and cultural management practices.
|Brian Forschler of the University of Georgia (gray shirt) received the ASPCRO Hall of Fame Award for his work on termite research. Here, Derrick Lastinger (ASPCRO president, left) presents Forschler with the award.|
LEED certification can also be earned on new construction projects when treating the structure for termites by the use of a physical barrier. In the proposed LEED v4 standards, the building also will qualify for points if “all cellulosic structural material is treated with a registered pesticide containing borates” or by installing “a registered bait system and providing for ongoing maintenance.”
Under current LEED standards an application of a “chemical-free termite barrier system,” will earn one Innovation in Design credit for LEED NC projects. LEED H projects can choose from various “reduced pesticide” or “reduced impact” methods to earn a half-credit each or in combination to earn one credit in the Sustainable Sites category.
While LEED certification is available for both residential and commercial structures, there are only 20,000 LEED certified residential homes in the United States. The emphasis leans heavily toward commercial properties, a market segment most pest management professionals service on a daily basis.
Steve Dwinell, assistant director of the Division of Agricultural Environmental Services for the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, says ASPCRO is forming a committee to study the green building issue and help with education.
One of the committee’s tasks will be to develop training materials for builders, property managers and pest management professionals to help foster a better understanding of how to earn LEED credits for their work.
The Regulatory Docket. The rodenticide issue that dominated the agenda at last year’s ASPCRO meeting (stemming from EPA mandates regarding the sale of rodenticides to consumers, product placement and label language prohibiting the targeting of non-commensal rodents) was once again revisited in Seattle, but this time with a more encouraging tone.
The initial mandate limited applicators’ usage of anticoagulant rodent products to within 50 feet of a building. However, after discussion with various stakeholders, the agency moved that number back to 100 feet, changed “building” to “manmade structure,” and made alterations to the requirements governing the application of product to rodent burrows.
What still remains on the table, however, is the mandate on label language prohibiting the targeting of non-commensal rodents such as deer mice and pack rats, known vectors of dangerous public health threats such as Hantavirus, which recently claimed the lives of three people who were exposed to the virus while camping at Yosemite National Park in California.
NPMA’s Rosenberg says progress is being made toward resolving the issue with EPA and he feels confident the issue will be resolved. In fact, several states already grant 24(c) Special Local Need registrations to pest professionals to use products to control these potentially harmful pests.
Attendees also received updates on two other important regulatory issues that have a direct impact on the pest management industry — pyrethroid labeling and the Endangered Species Act.
The EPA’s new use directions and environmental hazard statements for non-agricultural outdoor pyrethroid product labels is significant to the industry due to the wide net it casts over products frequently used by PMPs, including liquid concentrates, broadcast granules, dusts and liquid ready-to-use products.
The new use statements are intended to prevent pesticide run-off from entering into storm drains, drainage ditches, gutters or surface waters. The EPA’s recommendation included:
- Termite pre-construction sites must be covered prior to a rain event to prevent run-off and not to treat while it is raining.
- Not overwatering granular, liquid, dust and ready-to-use products to the point of run-off following application.
- Not applying products directly to drains and sewers.
- Limiting outdoor applications to spot or crack-and-crevice treatments above 3 feet on buildings and on impervious surfaces.
The industry’s concerns were voiced by the NPMA and ASPCRO in separate letters to EPA. SFIREG, a federal advisory committee of state pesticide regulators, also expressed concerns.
The letters requested clarification on whether some of the statements were mandatory or merely a recommendation. EPA confirmed that the statements were advisory and not mandatory, and that PMPs would not be responsible for overwatering done by others (e.g. customers) That’s good news for PMPs who feared they would have more limited product and application options.
The letters also requested that the new label directions be expanded to treat for overwintering pests and occasional invaders such as stink bugs and kudzu bugs — pests that can’t be managed effectively by spot or crack and crevice treatments in most cases.
EPA initially denied the request for an expanded label but has been actively discussing the issue with industry stakeholders and NPMA’s Rosenberg feels the discussions are headed in a positive direction.
“PMPs need more flexibility on the label in order to effectively treat for certain types of pests,” says Rosenberg. “EPA has been open to suggestions and my gut tells me something will get done.”
The industry finds itself caught in the middle of litigation surrounding the EPA’s actions regarding product registration and the Endangered Species Act. The agency has been the target of lawsuits from activist groups claiming the EPA did not properly consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service when registering products.
The courts have generally found the EPA violated ESA by not consulting with the two agencies and as a result has issued interim use restrictions on some products in certain locations. This action has put a strain on pest management professionals trying to determine where or where not they can use certain products.
“Applicators will literally have to determine by the account’s address whether or not they can use a product,” says Rosenberg. “What is OK to use on one side of the street may not be OK to use on the other side.”
The Green Side of Pest Management
There are several voluntary green certification programs currently available on the market that PMPs can choose from. All the programs listed here require companies to have a written integrated pest management (IPM) plan in place and to commit to detailed record keeping practices. Contact the individual organizations for complete details.
The author is partner of B Communications, www.b-communications.com, an integrated communications/marketing firm specializing in the needs of pest management professionals. He can be reached at email@example.com.