How can I find the environmental history of a building?
January 28, 2004 6:35 PM   Subscribe

So, I just found out a small office building I work in from time to time was a warehouse prior to being purchased and converted by the current owners. I also found out that upon purchase of said building a large portion of it was filled to the ceiling with old paint cans. What can I do to find the environmental history of a building? (I'm in New York State, so bonus points for information specific to my region)
posted by alan to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
if you're in the city, you can try here
posted by amberglow at 6:41 PM on January 28, 2004

oops..i just saw you're in rochester--try a college/university there.
posted by amberglow at 6:42 PM on January 28, 2004

There are environmental hazard archeologists/historians -- often retained by local governments.

I'd google for a national association, and see if there are any practitioners in your area.
posted by silusGROK at 8:06 PM on January 28, 2004

I do web work for an environmental law firm, so some of the stuff they write about and publish on the web rubs off on me, but I am by no means an expert.

If your office building was ever bad enough to be considered a superfund site, you could try searching for it on the EPA National Priorities List Site, though I'm betting it never got that bad.

Another site you might want to check out is the EPA's Enforcement & Compliance History Online (ECHO). I'm not sure how far back their data goes. Maybe less than 10 years, but it's worth a shot.
posted by crunchland at 9:23 PM on January 28, 2004

correction: make that 2 years.
posted by crunchland at 9:30 PM on January 28, 2004

It seems germaine to your question to ask: how do you know what you already know?
posted by scarabic at 10:37 PM on January 28, 2004

Response by poster: Crunchland, thanks for the pointer. I found the building in ECHO and it's never been inspected, but I was able to find the actual Facility Name which should help me if I want to take the search elsewhere.

Scarabic, the building houses a small (7-10 employees) family run business that I occasionally (more and more so lately) do consulting work for. The owners of the business are the owners of the building. They've been having problems with the heat for a few weeks, and I was chatting with one of the owners at lunch about it and she was going on about the building's history and how it was in such horrible shape when they first bought it and she thought her husband was crazy especially when she first came in and saw paint cans piled up to the roof etc. etc.
posted by alan at 11:07 PM on January 28, 2004

Alan, depending on the (age of the) building, you might want to check out the Rochester Historical Society or the local library might have some useful information. Let me know if you need any help.

Let me know what building it is.
posted by jasonspaceman at 5:27 AM on January 29, 2004

Response by poster: Jason, thanks for the help!.

You dont' have an (obvious?) email address on either of your websites, or in your profile here. Drop me a line and I'll send you the building info (I'd rather not publish specifics online (-: ).
posted by alan at 8:51 AM on January 29, 2004

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