CVE San Diego, a trusted cleanup resource
Licensed environmental and general engineering company CVE San Diego offers varied services during these unusual times, resolving challenges with unique considerations. Some challenges are global; others more geographically defined. Its multilayered team dynamic fuels the creativity often needed to develop effective solutions to clients’ needs.
Contracted for public and private projects such as structural demolition and hazardous materials removal, the company provides services valuable in the country’s current pandemic—such as industrial sanitation.
Simultaneously, widespread regional wildfires are also raging. Company leaders say wildfires three years ago resulted in CVE San Diego cleaning up 200 fire debris lots.
“Here in Sonoma County, we’ve unfortunately gotten acclimated to dealing with this kind of work since the 2017 wildfires,” says CVE San Diego Director Braydon Stout. “This was an area that was aggressively hit, with people in our community evacuating in the middle of the night. We have a lot of training and experience in what we do.”
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, reported 7,117 wildfires in 2017, which burned 505,956 acres. This year—as of September 11—over 7,606 fires have destroyed more than 2.2 million acres, the agency reported, with a mid-August lightning siege sparking new blazes.
Though the company hasn’t been called out to clean up any fire debris lots yet this year, in 2019, CVE took on about 30 such cleanups after wildfires, and professionally cleaned about 30 homes that had soot and smoke damage throughout, says Glenn Accornero, CVE San Diego President and Co-Owner.
Known for a wide range of cleanup and remediation work, post-wildfire jobs call for more of a trait Accornero sees in his teams and takes great pride in: caring. “Compassion is not something we are formally trained in,” he says. “But we have it. It’s a very emotional experience when you speak with people about personal belongings they have lost. We are constantly relating to folks who have lost everything.”
Wisdom To Start
Founded in 2016, CVE San Diego is a division of Central Valley Environmental Corporation, which was founded in 2008 by CEO Tim Williamson. The overall company has about 225 employees; CVE San Diego has 25.
Though a relatively new group, CVE San Diego is steeped in knowledge. Williamson and Accornero have over 45 years of combined abatement and demolition expertise.
Stout’s previous commercial insurance background, meanwhile, enriches the knowledge base of CVE San Diego. Responsible for implementing safety plans for establishments such as fast-food chains in a previous insurance role, his expansive view of safety, risk and solutions has served CVE San Diego well. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Stout began with the firm in 2016 as an estimator and project manager and was named Director this past May.
In addition to Williamson, Accornero and Stout’s robust background, company rising stars like Estimator Rodolfo Real—who also has insurance-industry experience—round out the team.
Accornero says the company offers clients complete services needed for a lot cleanup where a residential or commercial property is a total loss after a fire. It provides soil sampling, soil testing, hazardous materials testing, physical cleanup and demolition right down to a structure’s foundation, including transporting all materials off site.
However, where CVE San Diego is a one-stop shop for the client, from a business standpoint, each case is unique, he notes, with personal service built right in.
“We must follow California fire and environmental regulations and then, every city is different here when it comes to cleanup,” says Accornero, requiring attention to detail to ensure proper protocols are followed. Additionally, each property has its own individual factors to consider, with its own issues or combinations of issues, to resolve as well.
This lack of a one-size-fits-all solution to any problem is exactly what engages and intrigues Stout most about his job. That, in turn, helps to produce a superior client experience, with a well-considered, custom solution tailored just to their circumstance.
“I like those challenges in the sense that there is a lot to hit. My brain is always on,” Stout says. “I’ll be watching a movie at home on Sunday night and I’ll be thinking about a project. Each project has its own little mountain of obstacles to present.”
Different obstacles can materialize in different jobs, such as the removal of asbestos, which is a type of potentially carcinogenic mineral fiber used in plaster and other construction materials. CVE San Diego also offers mold remediation; lead abatement; deconstruction, or disassembling parts of a structure for reuse or recycling; hazardous-material removal; plant demolition; and asset recovery, say for a plant that may be closing, with its owners needing to identify assets like equipment for liquidity.
Many CVE San Diego clients need several of its services at the same time.
Soil, for example, can be contaminated with oil, lead, arsenic or all three. CVE San Diego is certified by the state to handle, package, label and document these soils and transport them for disposal. Contaminated soil remediation is generally part of a demolition job as opposed to a separate project, says Accornero. Multitasking is done in a structured, measured way, however, to ensure full materials are handled in a compliant and responsible fashion.
“We’ll go in first and do the asbestos and lead removal and then demolish the building,” with soil remediation another phase of work at that site, says Accornero. “We deal with a lot of regulatory agencies, every day.”
From Hazards To High-End Homes
The following examples of cleanup projects show the contrast of what is involved in each. CVE San Diego must track many details not only for regulation compliance, but also for employee safety and quality of results.
A Kmart retail store impacted by fire, for example, involved removal of many chemicals, such as car oil and household cleaners stored inside, Stout says. After the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completes a walkthrough and demarcation barriers are installed, samples must be analyzed to determine contamination levels before CVE San Diego began its work.
“All chemicals had to be treated separately, which takes a lot of time and effort,” Stout says. “We had to have the proper PPE (personal protective equipment), everything had to be labeled and all OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines have to be followed.” In such a scenario, each team member’s individual respirator must be monitored for proper air levels, he adds, to ensure contaminants in the air do not exceed the value of air in the respirator.
In contrast, the company’s work on high-end homes damaged by smoke, such as those in Santa Rosa’s Mayacama, a private golf and residential community, called for a different kind of attention to detail.
Remediation must be done “from top to bottom,” Stout says, inch by inch.
“We treat all contents, every horizontal surface and every vertical surface throughout the dwelling for burned ash and soot.” Ash can be handled with pH neutral HEPA vacuums, he said, but soot treatment can vary depending on floor material. Pine is different from marble, for example, which is porous. “Soot gets stuck in there,” making use of special cleaning products necessary, Stout says.
CVE San Diego began offering preemptive cleaning for residential, commercial and industrial facilities in March, Accornero says, in response to the COVID-19 virus. It’s a method of infectious-disease control implementing a disinfection process via specialized equipment, he says, and it’s been in high demand.
At the same time CVE San Diego has been scheduling its own COVID-19 cleaning projects, it has seen a change in the way projects it is hired to work within are managed, due to COVID.
Timelines are broader in jobs such as large-scale renovations, says Stout, as general contractors do their part to try and limit exposure on work sites. Third-party consultants are hired to oversee that recommended distancing requirements are followed. This means that jobs are done more in phases now, Accornero says, with tradespeople like electricians scheduled separately to get their portion of a project completed.
CVE San Diego has experience behind it to pivot its services or the way they are delivered as needed in response to demand or other factors. The company has solid grounding in professional associations such as the San Diego Chapter of Associated General Contractors of America, North Coast Builders Exchange, and Engineering Contractors Association.
When more dramatic events such as wildfires or pandemics are not underway, mold abatement is a large part of CVE San Diego’s business.
But Stout says that no matter the challenge and no matter the client, “everybody here is knowledgeable and gets our own brand of service. Here, you have 25 people on our team looking to help solve an issue. Here, you don’t get handed off to a ticket.”