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Green Environmental Consulting Works with Business Owners to Clear the Air
Adam Lesko

Adam Lesko, owner of Green Environmental Consulting, says indoor air quality is one of the most pressing issues associated with ‘green building.’

In the biz, it’s called IAQ — indoor air quality, an often-misunderstood aspect of environmental health and compliance.

According to Adam Lesko, owner of Green Environmental Consulting (GEC) in Florence, there are a number of things that can negatively impact the air we breathe, ranging from mold to asbestos to poorly functioning ventilators.

Sometimes, these issues lead to less-than-healthy working conditions or so-called ‘sick buildings,’ and Lesko has made it his life’s work to serve as the doctor on call.

“We specialize in indoor air quality,” he said, noting that the specialty includes remediation techniques, but also the creation of management systems for buildings, their environmental systems, and record-keeping mechanisms. “All of this relates back to the company name. It’s ‘green’ for a reason — air quality is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to environmental compliance.”

But environmental services like those offered by GEC haven’t always been in high demand.

“In the past, people have not looked at air quality as a place where long-term, positive changes could be made,” said Lesko. “Instead, most people have seen the regulations they must adhere to and the standards they’ve had to meet, and not been able to see past the upfront costs.”

Air Apparent

Today, though, environmental-compliance assistance is in increasing demand. This is due in part to a greater awareness and response to IAQ and other health- and environment-related concerns on both state and federal levels; the EPA, for example, has launched a comprehensive Indoor Environments Program, which includes guidelines for schools and school districts, homes, offices, and institutional buildings.

Trends in the marketplace, including a greater focus on ‘green building’ and LEED-certified construction, are also helping to put IAQ in the spotlight. This, in turn, is making air quality more relevant to a number of other industries, including commercial real-estate markets, construction, health care, and even education.

More than ever, said Lesko, property managers and owners are realizing a need to test for poor air quality and other environmental hazards, and to remediate any issues and avoid complaints from tenants, clients, or employees. Failure to do so can result in costly renovations and cleanup efforts, low productivity, and, in many cases, some bad publicity that can hurt a building’s reputation.

“Anyone who operates any kind of large facility has to think about this,” he said, “and we have plenty of residential work, too. The trends really follow the media — if 20/20 runs a piece on the dangers of mold, we get a lot of calls from homeowners. If there’s a news story about the mountain of paperwork facilities are required to keep, and how it keeps growing, then we hear from colleges, hospitals, schools … you name it.”

Breathing Life into the Industry

In essence, GEC provides options to clients designed to create healthier indoor working conditions. Lesko said most often, this translates into remediating issues with asbestos and mold (“mold is big this time of year,” he said, “and asbestos is always big”), upgrading air-quality infrastructure and plans (including ventilation and filtration systems), and monitoring and testing areas in which employees work to ensure they meet health and safety compliance standards.

“We do a lot of work with industrial hygiene and database solutions to manage environmental information,” he explained, noting that, until very recently, facilities charged with maintaining environmental information often did so with a pad and pencil, storing records in a conventional file cabinet.

“New technology eliminates the need for a physical paper trail and data entry, and increases access to information, thus limiting the potential for a hazardous situation,” he continued. “The most commonly cited issue associated with environmental regulations is the need for thorough, accessible records.”

Lesko had worked in this field for several years, the bulk of those with a national firm specializing in the field of environmental consulting, before striking out on his own in 2006.

“I saw an opportunity to produce a quality product, and I liked the idea of owning a local company,” he said. “I felt I could do a better job — when people work with us, they’re going to be working with a senior-level employee every time.”

His timing was good, too. Now working with a diverse set of clients in the midst of the biggest environmental boom in American history, Lesko leads a team of four, assessing needs, providing solutions, and usually offering some educational components, too.

“There have been a number of studies, for instance, looking at how air quality affects employee productivity,” he said. “In turn, there’s a lot of research on how we can improve efficiency by improving the indoor environment. Healthy employees are happy employees, and we’re definitely seeing more people take that idea seriously.”

Building Excitement

As green trends continue to explode, he said opportunities for GEC are multiplying as well. Lesko has already carved a niche for himself working with a wide range of clients, addressing their clean-air needs. He’s worked with a number of educational institutions across Western Mass. and Northern Conn., including Tantasqua regional schools, Granby public schools, Belchertown public schools, and Smith College. He also works with a number of real-estate brokers and developers offering assessment services on various properties in preparation for a sale, as well as general contractors, offering compliance assurance and monitoring programs.

“Developers are often surprised by the amount of remediation they’re required to perform on a property, and too often, that surprise comes after a property has been purchased,” said Lesko. “Our stance is that pre-investigation, so to speak, is a really smart way to do business because it offers more information on a property that can be used when negotiating prices or taking out a loan.

“There is a real and true cost associated with environmental compliance that too few people acknowledge,” he added.

There’s a residential arm of GEC too, through which Lesko and his team provide testing and inspection services to identify issues caused by lead paint, mold, asbestos, and other hazards.

But in addition, Lesko said he’s gradually moving GEC further into the green-building sector — an area in which environmental compliance is becoming more intrinsic than ever.

“We’re doing more already on the green-building side of things,” he said, “especially in the field of testing. I definitely hope this in an area in which we can grow, because there are opportunities to work with all types of buildings — both old and new.”

GEC is working toward attaining its own LEED certification to better serve the building sector. Lesko said part of the decision to move in this direction was, as in the past, driven by media attention to green-construction practices, but it’s a trend he says will likely forge significant positive changes in the industry.

“This is a good industry to join,” he explained. “Some might say that there’s been almost too much marketing of green building and green products, but a lot of good has already come out of that aggressive stance, and it’s always healthy for us to think about these things.”

Lesko says that this trendy thought process notwithstanding, green building, with environmental compliance as one of its key tenets, is leading to the design of more efficient buildings.

“It’s great because it’s driving people to think more proactively, to think about things more intelligently, and to design tighter buildings.”

The going-green phenomenon is shedding some light on Lesko’s work, which revolves around finding invisible foes and bringing others out of the shadows. “Now, more people are seeing that changes to air quality can create benefits,” he said.

And for him and his clients, that is indeed a breath of fresh air.

Jaclyn Stevenson can be reached at[email protected]