J.J. Pickle Federal Building

Renovations Project Informational Site

Project Background & Scope

Let’s talk about asbestos. It’s a scary word and there’s understandably concern about it from anyone with limited knowledge of the project. Asbestos is a well-documented, known carcinogen, and requires comprehensively regulated federal and state industry standards to safely handle and remove. Firstly, we can assure you that all state and federal licensing and regulation requirements have been and will continue to be implemented on this project, to include:

  • 29 CFR Part 1910,

  • 29 CFR Part 1926,

  • Texas Asbestos Health Protection Rules (TAHPR), TAC Title 25

  • 40 CFR Part 61,

  • 40 CFR Part 763

All personnel are licensed by the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS). In addition, state required notifications are filed for each abatement phase of the project.

 

So where exactly is the asbestos? The ACM or “Asbestos Containing Material,” present in the building is in various floor tile, duct sealants, pipe insulation sealants, air handler door packings, and heating water system insulation. The abatement on this Prospectus project is for the ACM used as a joint sealant compound around the outside of the existing HVAC duct at locations where the ducts connect. Less than 5% of this sealant is ACM. The fibers were mixed into the sealant to make it stronger. The asbestos fibers are completely locked into the sealant. Unless you actively grind it or saw it, it will not release any asbestos fibers and will not pose a risk for anyone’s health. 

 

Removal of the ACM during this project does not require any grinding, sawing, cutting, sanding or abrading of the ACM material. Every precaution is taken to prevent any fiber release. We simply cut around all of the sealant with a knife and remove those sections without disturbing or even touching the ACM. The ACM is wet before handling to make the fibers heavier (an added precaution so they don’t become airborne) and then wrapped in two layers of thick poly sheeting or bagged in two layers of thick poly garbage bags. The HVAC is shut off and all supply and return vents are covered with two layers of thick poly sheeting to make sure nothing could get into the operating building air. All walls and floors in the abatement area are covered in two layers of poly sheeting and the area is placed under negative pressure, meaning air is constantly pulled into the containment and filtered through a HEPA filter. A third-party air monitor pulls air samples before, during and after work every single day to ensure the work area, personnel breathing areas, and outside the work area meet the OSHA permissible exposure limit and EPA clearance level requirements for asbestos. These records are available for review at any time in the GSA office.

 

As scary as the word is when it’s spoken without context, rest assured asbestos or asbestos containing material has not, and will not, pose a risk to your health in this building.

The awarded contract includes upgrading the life-safety systems, replacing the HVAC distribution system, replacing

the toilet exhaust system, upgrading ventilation air requirement, fixing air flow problem, upgrading restroom finishes and fixtures, replacing electric drinking water coolers, replacing sump pumps for sewer and storm water, upgrading accessibility, and replacing carpet in public corridors.

At project completion, tenants can expect newly-designed (standardized) restrooms, consistent paint color and carpet from floor to floor in the common corridors, newly-installed ceilings throughout the building, LED fixtures along the perimeter spaces adjacent to windows, new drinking water fountains with bottle fill stations, a better performing HVAC system (to improve building climate control and eliminate hot and cold areas of a room or building zone), a new fire sprinkler system, and a new fire alarm (FA) system.

To be clear, tenant spaces are not being aesthetically revised. Tenants will not receive new carpet or paint in their own spaces. Light fixtures are not being replaced outside of the perimeter fixtures adjacent to the exterior windows. Any desired tenant improvements are handled outside of the scope of the Prospectus project via Reimbursable Work Authorization through the GSA Austin Service Center.

Please note that Basement, Ground Floor and 9th Floor will not get the same finish treatments as floors 1 through 8. These particular floors will not require swing moves and will be coordinated with impacted tenants in order to facilitate the work concurrently with other floors.

 

LIFE-SAFETY SYSTEMS

As each floor is taken over by the project, the current fire sprinkler system is removed and replaced in full for that respective floor. The existing fire alarm is demolished and replaced for the floor, tying it into the new control panel. For the duration of the project, there is an existing fire alarm system running for floors we have not started work on yet and a new FA system running for floors we have completed. They will run concurrently until the project has been completed in full, and then the old FA system will be removed. For the duration of a floor being impacted, several battery operated smoke alarm and heat sensors are relocated to the respective floor to independently monitor life safety conditions. This interim method has been reviewed and approved by GSA's Fire Protection Engineer and Authority Having Jurisdiction.

 

COMMON SPACES

A new restroom design will standardize the typical layout, fixtures and finishes seen throughout the building except for the Ground Floor, which will be designed to maintain its historical identity. The toilet exhaust system will be replaced to help eliminate foul odors from historically poor ventilation. The color theme with wall paint and carpet will be consistent throughout the floors in the common corridor spaces.

 

TENANT SPACES

Tenant floors and doors/frames are protected throughout the construction on that respective floor. Prior to the demolition phase commencing, thorough assessments are taken of each floor with photographic documentation to record existing conditions of each room. Protection is subsequently put in place to safeguard from incidental damage before any demolition efforts are started. At the completion of a floor, the protections are carefully removed and any areas experiencing accidental damage are repaired. 

 

HVAC DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM

During the construction of a typical floor, the existing ceiling grid and tiles are removed and discarded. Similarly, all of the fire sprinklers, the existing HVAC duct and the VAV’s are removed and discarded. After new HVAC duct, VAV’s, fire sprinklers, fire alarm and specific light fixtures are installed, the new ceiling grid and tile is put in place.

What is a VAV? A VAV is a variable air volume device designed to mix cold air and hot air to a desired temperature for a calculated amount of tenant space that is designed to provide climate control. The size and performance capacity of a VAV is determined by a licensed engineer with the designer of record to effectively service a designated area. New VAV’s will help update the building equipment and ensure the delivery of comfortable temperatures in every area of the building.

What about the duct? Many tenants who have been in the building for some time have raised concerns about unknown particulates on their desks in the morning. The existing HVAC duct throughout the building has interior insulation meaning the insulation is on the inside of the sheet metal duct. There is nothing dangerous about this material, but over time its deterioration along with any dust or debris has resulted in a consistent egress from the duct and onto horizontal surfaces adjacent to a diffuser. Installation of new duct throughout the building will leave us with more appropriately sized duct to eliminate excessive bending or branching and improve air flow. Further, the new duct is insulated on the exterior and will discontinue the distribution of particulates.

For a visual demonstration of the air flow, imagine a streamlined layout that will remove the maze on the left and replace it with the maze on the right. Larger duct, smarter layout and subsequently less friction will allow for a more effective distribution of the conditioned air.

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