Practicing What We Preach

An aerial view of Pioneer's new office.
An aerial view of Pioneer’s new headquarters.


“Practice what you preach”: It’s an old saying, earliest attributed to the Roman playwright Plautus circa 200 BC. But the words continue to ring true when exemplifying integrity and a commitment to one’s espoused beliefs.

Pioneer Engineering & Environmental Services (Pioneer) put these words into action when it recently moved its offices to the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. The property was an abandoned and dilapidated Brownfields site. Historically utilized by a bulk petroleum distributor and chemical company, it was blighted in large part due to the presence of a plethora of environmental contaminants (e.g., volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and PCBs) and decrepit condition of the building and grounds.

Warehouse: 2015 (left) and present (right) Warehouse: 2015 (left) and present (right)

Pioneer was able to utilize its full range of services in this endeavor. Areas of potential environmental concern were evaluated with a Phase I investigation; Phase II subsurface testing, employing soil, groundwater, and soil gas/vapor sampling, was conducted to define the areas of subsurface impact; and a sophisticated remediation plan was then developed, involving “hot spot” clean-up in the most heavily-affected areas, in-situ treatment to reduce contaminant levels in place and limit hazardous material landfilling, and the use of engineered barriers and institutional controls to eliminate exposure to residual impacts. Geotechnical analysis of subsurface materials was also necessary to aid in foundation design for the expansion of the once crumbling on-site structure, and Pioneer’s construction materials testing group was instrumental in the rehabilitation of an existing 20,000-square-foot warehouse space, build-out of a 10,000-square-foot lofted office area, and development of a new 6,000-square-foot garage to accommodate its extensive drilling equipment and soils laboratory.

Office interior: 2015 (left) and present (right)
Office interior: 2015 (left) and present (right)

This complicated project involved dealing with a multitude of regulatory issues and agencies. The site was non-compliant with the Illinois EPA Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Program and threatened with enforcement action due to previously-documented releases. Pioneer communicated with the Illinois EPA, and the property was subsequently enrolled in the state’s voluntary Site Remediation Program (SRP) in order to pursue a Comprehensive No Further Remediation (NFR) letter for the entire site due to identified impacts associated with the property’s past use and mishandling of hazardous/petroleum substances. Additionally, US EPA involvement was necessary as a result of the PCB impacts. Further, “Class 6B” tax incentives were available and successfully pursued with the City of Chicago, on the basis of job creation and the extensive property improvements associated with Pioneer’s relocation.

Pioneer is proud of its adaptive re-purposing of this former Brownfields site. We invite you to stop by our new headquarters at 2753 West 31st Street, Chicago, if you are in the neighborhood.

Office exterior (west entrance): 2015 (left) and present (right)
Office exterior (west entrance): 2015 (left) and present (right)

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