Sticking to the Plan
When it comes to storm-water compliance, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t fool around. In 2008, the agency, whose 2009 plan included its largest enforcement budget in history, reached a consent decree with The Home Depot whereby the home-improvement chain settled on a $1.3 million penalty and the implementation of a comprehensive, corporate-wide program to prevent storm-water pollution at each new store it builds.
Under the settlement, which resolved alleged violations discovered at more than 30 construction sites in 28 states where new Home Depot stores were being built, the chain must develop improved pollution-prevention plans for each site, increase site inspections and promptly correct any problems at its sites. It also must implement a management and internal reporting system to improve oversight of on-the-ground operations.
A similar consent decree was reached with Wal-Mart Stores in 2005, under which the company established a comprehensive storm-water compliance plan and paid a fine of more than $3 million.
The high-profile nature of the retail industry makes it vulnerable to being singled out. In a document posted on the EPA’s site, the agency stated that during 2008-2010, it will focus on three main areas of its storm-water program, with one of those areas being big-box construction ( http://epa.gov/oecaerth/resources/publications/data/planning/priorities/ fy2008prioritycwastorm.pdf ). In fact, all construction projects that disturb more than one acre of land must comply with federal and state regulations regarding storm-water management.
Specifically, site owners or managers must obtain necessary storm-water permits before the start of construction, develop a storm-water pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) for the site and have the documents posted at the job site. (For information on how to develop a SWPPP, see www.epa.gov/npdes/swpppguide .)
“In order to comply with their permits, the site operator must be ready, willing and able to prove they are in compliance,” says Alice Reimer, president of Evoco Inc., a provider of project- and program-management software for the retail, restaurant and development industries. “This requires not just having a storm-water management plan, but also proof that they are managing against that plan by regularly inspecting their sites, reporting any problems and resolving them in a timely manner. This can be a daunting task for many companies with regional or national build programs, as regulations can vary by state.”
Failure to comply with storm-water regulations puts a company at risk for significant daily fines, site cleanup costs and project delays. Habitual offenders or companies targeted by the EPA or state agencies may also be subject to a consent decree (as in the cases mentioned above), which legally binds the company to specific resolutions that could include multimillion-dollar penalties.
Many owners and developers believe that the responsibility for compliance can be delegated to their general contractor or engineer. But that is not strictly true, according to Reimer.
“It is the responsibility of the site operator—which could be the retailer owner, developer or GC [general contractor], depending on the state—to ensure each site has a comprehensive, monitored and maintained plan,” she explained. “And it’s the site owner that faces the penalties of noncompliance. As an owner, be sure your site operators are compliant to avoid the risk of project delays, or worse.”
In a recent trend, some retailers are now using technology to manage their storm-water programs, and to help them get—and stay—in compliance.
Online storm-water management systems, according to Reimer, help owners and developers better manage the voluminous paperwork associated with their storm-water programs, allow inspection data to be captured real time in the field (electronically), and provide a central database of SWPPP documents that all parties can access at any time, and from anywhere. They also allow for the continual back-up of records (related documents are required to be kept for three or more years after construction is completed).
“A key advantage of an online system is that it defines a consistent process for all parties to follow, which means that everyone understands their role, and their compliance with the process can be monitored,” Reimer added. “Equally important, online systems help ensure adequate visibility into any issues that require attention, or have been left unresolved, which dramatically reduces your compliance risk.”
Online systems can also ensure long-term auditability and accountability. Some online systems—including Evoco’s storm-water Compliance solution—allow site superintendents to capture signatures on site-inspection forms electronically. This ensures that the owner knows who inspected which site and can retain that information in a long-term archive for future reference—long after the construction is complete.
“Online systems dramatically improve visibility, help reduce administrative overhead and support owners and developers in better managing the risks associated with storm-water compliance,” Reimer said.
Kohl’s, Forever 21 win bid for 46 former Mervyn’s stores
MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. Kohl’s and Forever 21 won a joint bid for the leaseholds of 46 former Mervyn’s locations valued at approximately $6.25 million.
Kohl’s will assume 31 of the locations while Forever 21 will assume 15, pending approval by the court overseeing Mervyns bankruptcy proceedings.
“We are pleased with the results of the auction,” said Kevin Mansell, president and ceo for Kohl’s Department Stores. “With over 1,000 stores from coast to coast, these locations provide increased presence in under penetrated markets. We will continue to be opportunistic and prudent in our discussions with the owners of select Mervyns real estate as we continue to position Kohl’s to grow market share.”
In fiscal 2009, the Kohl’s said it continues to expect to open approximately 50 stores, including the majority of the 31 former Mervyns’ locations.
Bazaarvoice appoints new CFO
AUSTIN, Texas Bazaarvoice, which provides social commerce applications that drive sales, announced that Ken Saunders has joined the company as CFO. Saunders has over 25 years of experience as a senior financial executive at companies including Open Solutions, Peregrine Systems, Fair Isaac Corp. and Arthur Andersen. In his new role at Bazaarvoice, Saunders will guide all aspects of the company’s financial operations, as well as lead the team responsible for day-to-day finance, IT and human operations.
“Bazaarvoice is not only the most innovative social commerce company in the industry, it’s the fastest growing, serving hundreds of major brands worldwide and adding more at a very rapid clip,” said Saunders. “As CFO, I look forward to working with Bazaarvoice’s executive team to drive the company’s growth now and into the future, as they continue to transform the way people interact and shop online.”
“Ken has a wealth of world-class financial experience at both private and public companies, and we’re thrilled to welcome him to the executive team as Bazaarvoice continues to cement its market leadership in the social commerce space,” said Brett Hurt, founder and CEO of Bazaarvoice. “As more and more retailers worldwide embrace the customer voice as a key brand and marketing tool, Bazaarvoice is poised for rapid growth – and Ken is the perfect person to lead our company’s financial strategy.”