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State lawmakers tinker with sick building cures.

As expected, the New York State Health Committee has introduced a measure to require building owners to certify they are maintaining their HVAC systems.

The new measure, introduced by Senator Michael J. Tully, Jr., of Roslyn, will need to be conferenced at some point with an Assembly bill already introduced by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried of Manhattan.

With 35 million people now working in large office buildings versus 7 million in 1973, many workers are cognizant of the fact that there is a problem.

Gary Rodolitz, president of Long Island Building Owners and Managers, a licensed professional engineer and building owner, believes it is better to work with the legislature to shape something acceptable. He has spoken with beth committees and met with Assemblyman Gottfried.

Rodolitz said that while they both have the same goals and intent, he favors the Tully bill. "What Tully has put out is a practical solution," he said. "It identifies how the problem comes about and solves the problem."

The Tully bill recognizes the source of most indoor air pollution is the improper operation and maintenance of HVAC systems. Under this measure, it is the responsibility of an engineer to disclose the proper operation and maintenance of the system which must be then checked quarterly by an operator. A form would be filed with the local Health Dept.

It would only apply to commercial properties of over 25,000 square feet that already have an HVAC system in place and adopts the 1989 ASHRAE model as a standard.

"What Tully has done in a simple form is to deal with the problem," Rodolitz said. "It doesn't mean it's the cure-all for air quality."

The BOMA Long Island chapter endorses Tully's bill since it recognizes that indoor air quality provides a tremendous liability. Rodolitz said Tully lays out clearly what the responsibilities of the owner are. "Once you know what you are reasonable for then you can comply," explained Rodolitz. "Under Gottfried's' bill, an owner would still have liability. Tully's solution deals with clear achievable goals."

Another Assembly Environmental Committee bill, introduced by chair Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg of Long Beach, would apply to all public buildings within the state and have the Department of Environmental Conservation formulate an air standard. Gottfried's measure would extend to all buildings 25,000 square feet and larger or having more than six dwelling units. Tully's analyst Darlene Dowling, said their feeling was that people can open their windows in their apartments. It also requires what she describes as "endless logs."

Gottfried's legislation would require the Health Department to check the performance while an unsatisfied complainant would have the ability to petition the Health Department to conduct an investigation.

Dowling said under the Tully bill, if the building owner does not have an HVAC operation and maintenance plan, penalties would be $250 for the first offense going up to $500 and $1,000, which she deemed "a slap on the wrist." There is no liability for the building owner if the plan is complied with, she added, even if complaints are made with the Health Department.

"We are optimistic that we can reach some agreement on the Assembly," she said. "Both bills are headed in the same direction; we go about it separate ways."
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Title Annotation:New York State Health Committee introduces measure to require certification of heating ventilating and air conditioning systems by building owners
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:May 5, 1993
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