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Nature vs Chemicals Course Syllabus

The focus of this course is on how to handle transactions involving existing or potential environmental concerns; anticipating possible problems and concerns that may arise during transactions; knowing when and where to refer clients and how to use resources when a question or problem arises that is beyond the scope of expertise of a real estate practitioner.

  • Introduction / Waste: Describe the responsibilities of a licensee regarding disclosure of known environmental hazards
  • Brownfields: Discuss brownfields cleanup, redevelopment and smart growth
  • Wetland areas: Identify the unique characteristics of different wetland types
  • Environmental hazards and liabilities: Discuss environmental problems and issues which may affect real estate activities and result in liability for licensees and owners
  • Lead: Specify federal laws and regulations governing environmental hazards and the real estate licensees’ obligations involving such hazards
  • Mold: List and discuss actions the prudent real estate licensee should take regarding mold
  • Carbon Monoxide and Radon: Explain specific information about some of the most common environmental hazards affecting real estate
  • Asbestos and Formaldehyde: Summarize the major health effects of exposure to asbestos and formaldehyde
  • Groundwater: Discuss methods of identifying groundwater contamination and dangers of UST’s
  • Meth Hazards: Discuss the associated health risks and dangers to the environment of meth production
  • Healthy / Green Homes: Elaborate on the qualities of a healthy home
  • Indoor air quality: List and discuss causes of poor indoor air
  • Energy Efficient Homes: List and explain the various programs available for healthy, green homes

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Sample content from the course

Let’s begin our discussion with environment issues that impact communities.

Waste disposal sites

State and Federal legislation regulates the generation, flow and disposal of hazardous and other solid wastes. The United States produces approximately 294 pounds of waste per person per day. This adds up to 13 billion tons of waste each year. Most of this is industrial wastes and many of these wastes are toxic.

According to the EPA In 2010, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash. This is 4.43 pounds per person per day. These wastes are not negligible because landfill space is declining. Over 85 million tons of this material was recycled and composted. On average, we recycled and composted 1.51 pounds of our individual waste generation

Additionally, the toxic wastes we produce include:

•    municipal solid wastes
garbage and refuse from homes, schools and offices;

•   industrial wastes
byproducts from manufacturing, mining, coal combustion and oil and gas production;

•    medical wastes
materials from hospitals, clinics, laboratories, universities and morgues;

•    radioactive wastes
from nuclear fuel use, weapons production, medical and agricultural uses of radioactive materials and uranium ore processing; and

•    hazardous wastes
industrial wastes that are classified as toxic or appear on a hazardous chemical list and must be stored, transported, processed and disposed of according to special regulations.

Even though we now have more protection than ever against the release of toxic wastes, no one wants to live near a waste treatment or disposal site. The best way to protect your clients is for you, as a real estate professional, to be aware of the presence of hazards before offering a property for sale or lease. You should also stay alert to proposed changes in zoning which might allow hazards to develop once your client occupies the property.

Other things you can do to protect both your personal liability and your client:

•    drive around the immediate neighborhood and the area within a one mile radius of the property under consideration;

•    pay special attention to areas where children play and go to school;

•    ask questions about potential hazards;

•    check records from local or state health departments, planning agencies and pollution control agencies;

•    talk to neighbors and/or developers; and

•    check in the local newspapers.

If you discover a hazard, discuss your concerns with all parties to the transaction. The hazard may be easily remedied, or you may discover that the remedy would involve aggressive community action or hiring a lawyer. There are thousands of hazardous waste sites that may be presenting a public health hazard by contaminating water and soil. Some examples of such hazardous waste sites:

•    authorized landfills used for disposing of community waste;
•    landfills approved to receive industrial and agricultural hazardous wastes; and
•    unauthorized dump sites.