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Newly Advanced Methane Mitigation Construction

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Methane vapor mitigation systems are among the youngest trades in association with construction projects today. Initiated by the Ross Explosion in 1985, the city of Los Angeles’ LADBS pioneered  the vapor mitigation industry. The LADBS Methane Mitigation Code requires conducting a Methane Test, a Methane Mitigation Design, and Methane Mitigation Construction.

LADBS’ redundant Methane Mitigation System Code requirements protect to safeguard against harmful subsurface activities and historical abuse of environmental concerns. The LADBS Methane Code consists of collaborative systems from underground ventilation systems. As well as sealants installed below foundations to active system components, including fans and sensors.  The results of the Methane Test define the extent of the Methane Mitigation Construction components. Methane Mitigation Construction components determines by the results of the Methane Test.  LADBS rules a licensed Methane Testing Field Agency to conduct the Methane Soil Gas TestMethane Testing Field Agency.

The Los Angeles Department of Building Development of the Methane Mitigation Design Standard Plans. Many building jurisdictions, along with the EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), followed leading and updating code requirements. Reflecting vapor mitigation systems is a must for harsh subsurface soil contamination. Because of its roots in historical abuse of production and commercial activity.

Historical and modern-day activities such as dry cleaners, machine shops, and manufacturing facilities have introduced harsh contaminants. The contaminants go in the subsurface, imposing environmental concerns below and above ground. These ecological contaminants require remediation or mitigation to ensure they do not harm building occupants. LADBS and the DTSC are imposing building restrictions that require implementing Methane Vapor Mitigation Design and Construction.

Phase 1 and Phase 2 Environmental Reports

Vapor Mitigation system requirements are driven through a phase 1 environmental history report investigation. Also with a phase 2 environmental site assessment report.

The purpose of Phase 1 Reports is to research the history of a property. So as to see what type of activity occurred over the years. If an action imposes risk of possible contamination, Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment  initiates.

Based on the Direct Push Drilling ASTM Standards, various boreholes advance during a Phase 2 environmental site investigation. A mobile Phase 2 laboratory will extract and analyze concentrations of multiple contaminants within the subsurface soil samples. This is including hydrocarbons, PCE, Radon, Benzene, TCE, and others.

From the results of Phase 2, the consultant is to conduct Phase 2 requirements ensuring recommendations on remediating or mitigate the present contamination.

Historically, remediation methodologies have been extremely costly, with minimal options. Thus design development occurring in the Methane Mitigation industry within LADBS jurisdiction, Vapor Mitigation Systems are a more common solution. According to DTSC and EPA’s latest reports on the Vapor Mitigation Advisory.

History of Sub-Slab Depressurization System and New Improvements

An industry only 30 years old has recently made minimal progression in methodologies. Historically, Sub Slab Vent Systems and Methane vapor barriers have often been highly costly. Due to the required Methane Mitigation construction approaches.

The Methane Vapor Sub-Slab vent system is an underground ventilation system for your structure.  The methane sub-slab vent system installs beneath the methane impervious membrane.  The methane mitigation contractor must install the methane mitigation construction per the details in outline in the methane mitigation design. A series of perforated pipes encased in a gravel blanket will route through under the slab. Ultimately leading to methane vent risers that route through the roof and exhaust out of vents.

This design approach guarantees minimal pressure accumulation under the slab of a structure. Although difficult to imagine, some of these underground contaminants heighten with increases in pressure at over 2 inches of water. Relative to the tension inside a structure (typically at atmospheric pressure), the pressure differential will force contaminants into a building. The sub-slab vent system acts as a depressurization system. It ensures that the pressure beneath the structure is always the same as that outside its atmospheric conditions. Limiting pressure differentials will reduce the diffusion coefficient and mitigate the ability of any gas to intrude into a system.

The delivery and installation of three-quarter-inch gravel initiates into the trenches as perforations to allow gasses to pass easily. Trenching requires heavy machinery, which is expensive to mobilize and operate. Additionally, causing other contaminants by using this machinery during construction. It is Increasing the carbon footprint of an already high CO2-producing process.

Advancements in Sub Slab Vent Systems

The installation of the sub-slab depressurization systems is cumbersome and inefficient. Until now, there have been no other viable options for the Sub-slab vent system construction process.

Recently, releasement of new advancements in Sub Sab Vent System technology are available. This updated Subs Slab vent design is a roll-in-place ventilation system using a plastic dimple drain mat and geotextile fabric. The dimple drain mat design to withstand the compression of the poured slab directly over it. The result is a passageway for air or gases to migrate the dimpled mat and lead the vent riser adapter. The Contaminated Gas will then vent through these Vent Risers to the roof.  The extent of the  gas contamination will need to be in analysis. This is through a methane test for the LADBS Methane Mitigation Code. Or for Phase 1 & 2 for the DTSC Vapor Mitigation Systems.

Similar to manufacturing of methane and vapor barriers, the source of this technology was initially in  development for below-grade waterproofing systems. The dimpled drain mat is a system that is frequently useful for drainage systems on French Drains on retaining walls or shoring lagging walls. Methane Barrier manufacturers have been in observation the design methodologies of these Dimpled Drain mat French Drain Systems.

In observation, the system shows it can similarly implement within Vapor Mitigation Depressurization Systems. The French Drain System has design to prevent high-pressure water build-up behind Structural walls. Although this system has been in use for several decades in waterproofing applications it’s evolving. Some building jurisdictions  need to permit these systems for Methane Barrier applications in replacement of Sub Slab Vent depressurization systems. Bringing this option to your Methane Mitigation Designer is essential to see if it’s possible to implement in your Building jurisdiction.

The Evolution of DTSC Vapor Barriers and Methane Impervious Membranes

There have been significant advancements in methane vapor barriers. Historically, methane mitigation barriers had come from below-grade waterproofing systems. Historical methane barriers were developed urgently to establish a system that would protect structures with readily available infield testing data. Unfortunately, the evolution of Methane Barriers has not evolved sufficiently. For decades, all barriers required the installation of an asphalt emulsion spray-applied membrane that was extremely difficult to install and needed heavy equipment and knowledge to operate efficiently.

New technologies have emerged for Methane Barriers that implement “roll out” methods, similar to how you roll out the carpet in a home. This new Methane Vapor Barrier technology requires either seam welders or chemically reactive adhesive to ensure no voids in the continuous membrane. Previous asphalt emulsion spray-applied Methane Barriers acted as a seamless continuous monolithic barrier throughout a slab. Engineers at the time felt this was the only way to successfully create a sealed continuous surface that would meet the size requirements of a methane vapor barrier.

Asphalt Emulsion

As a result of high raw material costs, Asphalt Emulsion Methane Vapor Barriers have been significantly higher in price. An Asphalt emulsion Methane Barrie or Vapor Barrier costs between $7 to $8 per square foot to have installed. New LADBS and DTSC Approved Methane and Vapor Barrier will cost $5 – $6 per square foot.

Reducing costs is extremely important in the methane vapor barrier industry; Vapor Barriers will likely be required in all future construction projects. The competitive nature of the industry is excellent evolution to see newer and more optimal technologies at lower costs.  Methane Mitigation Designers are responsible for analyzing the Methane Test Data and corresponding mitigation requirements.  After reviewing the methane mitigation construction scope of work as required by the LADBS Code, the Methane Mitigation Designer will need to specify which methane barrier will be an optimal choice to select for a specific project.

New Design Applications for Active Vapor Mitigation Systems

In areas with high concentration levels of methane gas, as outlined in the LADBS Methane Test, or other carcinogenic or toxic vapors as deemed by the DTSC, the requirement of an Active Vapor Mitigation System is possible. Active Methane Mitigation systems have historically included the implementation of sensors beneath the foundation of structures to measure the concentrations of methane build-up and pressure sensors to monitor the extent of the pressure differential. Methane Detectors place in the lowest level of the building to watch the possible intrusion of Methane Vapor Gas contaminates. These Active Systems continuously monitor the concentrations and pressure of the Methane Vapor Mitigation System and communicate via control panels to Fans.  If concentrations or pressure exceed a defined threshold, the system will activate to ventilate the toxic vapors.

LADBS led the way with the Active System Vapor Intrusion Mitigation design approach for their methane gas mitigation program, which implemented explosion-proof systems for sensors, ventilation, and control systems. Since the corresponding cost of these systems is extremely high,  the related code requirements are maintained this way. Whereas neighboring Building jurisdictions like the Los Angeles County of Public Work’s Environmental Programs Division, the Orange County Fire Authority, or the Environmental Protection Agency’s Department of Toxic substance control have established different Active Vapor Intrusion or Mitigation System Design approaches.

The new Advanced Vapor Mitigation Systems process has taken on a much more cost-effective method

Mechanical Engineers design continuous Sub Slab extraction systems to provide higher pressure differentials throughout the SubSlab The system constantly allows for more minimal control systems to reduce costs.

The start-up cost of the Responsive Active Mitigation System includes the fans’ fees and the sensors and Controls Systems charges, which are notoriously high in price. Operating power costs for the Continuous Vapor Mitigation Fans may be increased due to this, but the power consumption costs are minimal compared to the upfront construction costs. In addition to the methodology of active monitoring systems implemented by the methane mitigation system in LADBS jurisdiction, other local building jurisdictions have taken a different approach and proposed using passive monitoring probes installed beneath the structure’s foundation. These probes are then set up on a monitoring program where manual measurements are taken by the consultant periodically, which is set up on the maintenance and control system instruction manual prepared by the Methane Mitigation Consultant.

A licensed Methane Mitigation Contractor must install the Active Methane Mitigation SystemMethane Mitigation Contractor with experience in Methane Active System Control Systems and Methane Impervious Membranes.  The Methane Mitigation Design must be referenced during the Methane Mitigation Construction, and the corresponding Active System Single Lines and Voltage drops need to be prepared by a licensed engineer.

Optimized Methane Vapor Mitigation System Contingency Plans

The newly optimized Vapor Mitigation design requirements established by building jurisdictions require the preparation of a Contingency Plan. So, depending on the results of a Methane Test, Methane Vapor Soil Gas Test, or a Phase 2 Environmental Investigation, a risk analysis is completed to determine the extent of possible vapor intrusion into a structure. Based on this Vapor Intrusion Risk Analysis, corresponding Vapor Intrusion Mitigation Advisory requirements are established. They must be implemented in the Vapor Intrusion Mitigation System (VIMS).

This Vapor Mitigation System Design can include retrofitting various Active System Components as a Contingency Plan. These Contingency Active Mitigation System Components can be implemented in a scenario in which there is a failure in the installed Methane Vapor Mitigation System initially. The VIMS contingency plan may consist of a series of active Fans, Methane detectors for periodic or continuous Active Monitoring, an Extensive Vapor Mitigation Control System, and even a Soil Vapor Extraction System for Remediation purposes.

Upgraded Active Vapor Mitigation System Fans

The design of Methane Vapor Mitigation Active System Fans has evolved significantly over the past decades. Therefore, different Vapor Mitigation Systems will have specific design requirements for the type of material or fan design that can for implementation. Additionally, design requirements can vary from the ability for explosion-proof motors to be implemented to ensure that methane gas does not have an ignition source. In addition to the explosion-proof motors, 100% polymer-based fans are designed with no metallic features that could create an ignition source.

The Chemical Compatibility of the materials in use in the manufacturing process of the fan must analyze against the imposing contamination present in the subsurface. The most frequent issue in  association with Methane Vapor Mitigation fans is the “Fan Sizing” process. Therefore that must   implement to specify a Fan Design correctly. This process must be in prep and stamp by a licensed Mechanical Engineer. Mechanical Engineers will Calculation a System Curve of the Methane Vapor Sub Slab Vent System and Compare this to the Fan Performance curves to verify the compatibility of Fan Designs with Methane Vapor Ventilation Systems. Lastly, the form size is critical for the new Active System Design Process.

The size of Fans has reduced substantially to fit within walls or in the attic of a building. Typically, you would like to position these fans to avoid imposing architectural issues on a project. Additionally, Methane Mitigation Designs will outline the mitigation system requirements driven by the results of the Methane Test per the LADBS Methane testing Standards.

A licensed C10 contractor must construct the Active Methane Mitigation System.

This complies with the Los Angeles Department of building code and California building code specifications. Milestone advancements have been in the single-family dwelling Methane Vapor Mitigation code for Active Systems. Building Codes establish exceptions that can be applicable to Single Family Dwelling. Or their accessories that permit the substitution of Control Panel Monitoring Systems with standalone detectors.

Therefore, Methane Gas standalone detectors plug into the wall and measure methane concentrations. If detection of concentration threshold happens, the onboard speaker will sound. Thus notifying building occupants. This new Methane Mitigation Construction methodology has brought considerable advancements to the industry. Thus allowing cost-effective, safe practices to implement within residential properties. These exceptions and the New California Building Code for Accessory Dwelling Units help motivate developers. Additionally, homeowners to hire methane mitigation contractors at a more cost-effective approach.  The methane mitigation contractor reviews to verify that methane mitigation design and methane test comply with the LADBS methane Testing code.  The Methane Mitigation Designer verifies all specifications are in outline per the New Advancement Methane Vapor Mitigation Design and Construction.


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