Looking at the Neighborhood around your location

May 3, 2009 at 10:06 pm 2 comments

Often we look only at our buildings or even campuses and wonder why we have problems or think we are prepared to the worst nature can throw at us.  If we forget to look at the neighborhood and our surrounding areas we will probably be in for a nasty surprise.

Why am I writing about this now you ask?  Well the American Lung Association just came out with it annual listing of the worst places to live due to air pollution (http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/18099) (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30476335/) and of course I live in in one of the worst! Now I already knew this but it brings it back into focus and it serves as a reminder of how we sometimes operate with blinders on.

One of the basic ideas on this subject is of course flooding or how soon will my area experience a flood that will damage or destroy my site? There are lots of resources that cover this and the one you most need to look at is the FEMA site (http://msc.fema.gov/). These maps rate the area you are in in the standard annual, 10 year and 100 year risk categories. However if you are in California there is a new type of flood risk you need to be concerned about, that which will occur due to global warming.  As part of your building permit approvals you now have to take into account potential sea level rise when building near the coast. Here is a great resource to start with on this subject (http://flood.firetree.net/?ll=43.3251,-101.6015&z=13&m=7).

The next set of resources need to be used in conjunction with Google Earth (http://earth.google.com/).

First we have the FEMA maps overlay for Google Earth (https://hazards.fema.gov/femaportal/wps/portal/NFHLWMSkmzdownload).

Next we have three overlays that deal with real time and historic earthquake activity (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/nca/virtualtour/global.php)

And to be really topical we even have one that maps the spread of the flu! (http://declanbutler.info/blog/?p=58) or (http://www.mapcruzin.com/swine-flu/)

I also have an overlay that shows various pollution causing entities such as power plants and the like but am unable at this moment to find the link. When I do I will put it in a follow up post. However here is on that shows maps of toxic releases reported to the EPA (http://www.mapcruzin.com/toxicrisk/index.htm).

All of this technology is nice but I also encourage you to get out and walk or drive around your neighborhood and note the names of those businesses that seem to have operations that might be at cross purposes to your mission.

As an example I was noticing and receiving complaints about the amounts of dust in our offices.  This was easily answered by the fact of the asphalt plant and the concrete plant both with in 3 blocks of our location, not to mention the freeway interchange visible from our front door.  All of these would be important to me if I were planning for an optimal location as I am the proud possessor of life long asthma.  However it is also good to know if you have a fireworks factory next door when preparing your fire fighting plans!

Lastly this information will certainly affect you organizations insurance costs and may allow you to negotiate some cost savings as situations change. FEMA occasionally updates their flood maps and you may find yourself suddenly better off!

As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Digg, Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to: askthefm@gmail.com

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Entry filed under: Disaster Preparedness, Environment, Planning. Tags: , , .

Housing California – Day 1 New and Unusual Green Building Materials for May 11, 2009

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