Building and Construction Sector
The North American Industry Classification System classifies the building and constructions sector into three primary establishments:
- Entities engaged in the construction of buildings and engineering projects;
- Entities involved in the preparation of sites for new construction; and
- Entities that subdivide land for sale and building sites.
These establishments are responsible for performing a diverse range of activities ranging from the construction of public and private buildings and infrastructure to alterations, maintenance and repairs.
According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, nearly 730,000 construction companies operated in the U.S. in 2015. 211, 956 of these companies were in the construction of buildings subsector, 39,439 companies were in the heavy and civil engineering construction subsector, and 477,950 operated in the specialty trade contractors subsector. As a whole, companies in the U.S. construction industry employed over 7.3 million workers and generated over $1.7 trillion in annual revenue.
Environmental Laws and Regulations Impacting the Building and Construction Industry
Companies throughout the construction industry are subject to a myriad of complex environmental laws and regulations at the local, state and federal levels. From initial site preparation to the construction, operation and demolition of a structure, the industry must ensure that it is taking appropriate action to comply with environmental laws. Even at the earliest stages, the siting of the construction site, developers and operators must carefully identify potential onsite or offsite sources of contamination that may impact building construction or operations. For instance, offsite migration of contamination through underlying aquifers may become a source of soil vapor gas that infiltrates a building causing unpermitted levels of indoor air emissions, which impact the health of the occupants. When the source of emissions is uncovered, it can be mitigated before or during construction and the responsible parties can be pursued for payment of the costs. In addition, a construction site may be adjacent to, or contain, a wetland or endangered species habitat, requiring advance assessment, notification, permitting and mitigation prior to construction. In some cases, the location of the construction may not be feasible at all because of environmental issues.
Throughout the construction process, the operator at the site must obtain and comply with all permits for construction, including NPDES construction permits, and use best management practices to reduce storm water run-off. Moreover, once construction is complete and a building is operating, indoor air emissions could impact the health of the occupants and may require mitigation or collaboration with government agencies.
When demolition activities come into play if a building contains lead, PCBs, or asbestos, or if the building contains hazardous materials or releases that require remediation, particular attention must be given to environmental laws and regulations.
Comprehensive Guidance in Environmental Matters Affecting the Construction Industry
Bick Law has experience representing developers, owners, general contractors, subcontractors, engineers, architects and other entities operating throughout the construction industry. Each California environmental lawyer at our firm works with our building and constructions industry clients to help ensure their activities are in full compliance with environmental laws and regulations. We regularly guide clients through local, state and regional permitting requirements and litigate permit denials when an appropriate resolution cannot be reached with responsible government agencies.
Bick Law also represents our construction and building industry clients in connection with state and federal investigations and government enforcement actions. We understand the nuances of the law and are familiar with how the various agencies conduct investigations and prosecute environmental contamination claims. Our environmental lawyers are seasoned trial attorneys who vigorously advocate for the rights of clients in state and federal courts, including the appellate level. We also regularly counsel clients in connection with commercial transactions, offering a keen eye on contract provisions that may give rise to potential environmental concerns and liability.