For many people, purchasing a commercial property is a once-in-a-lifetime event. It’s not surprising that most don’t know the terminology. There’s no such thing as a “Level One Environmental”. It’s called a “Phase I Environmental Site Assessment”.
This post is dedicated to all the ways people get their terminology understandably wrong. It makes it difficult for a buyer to know they are purchasing what they need. Because they are using the wrong terminology, there’s a good chance they might spend money that doesn’t need to be spent or possibly worse, not spend money they should be spending.
Incorrect Environmental Industry Terminology:
Phase I EPA – It’s “ESA”. It stands for “Environmental Site Assessment” but that term is overshadowed by one people know better, “EPA”, which means “Environmental Protection Agency”.
Environmental Assessment – This one is pretty understandable. After all “Environmental Assessment” seems awfully close to “Environmental Site Assessment”. How could they be different? They are radically different in scope and therefore price. A Phase I ESA is interested in potential contamination to a parcel of commercial land. An Environmental Assessment also known as an “EA” covers far more information. Click here to find out more about EAs.
Phase I EDR – EDR can mean a lot of things in this industry. It’s an abbreviation for a company name, just like A3E is short for A3 Environmental Consultants. It can also mean “environmental database records” or “environmental desktop reports”. Both of the non-brand name versions of EDR refer to products that are not Phase I ESAs. We call them Record Search with Risk Assessment (RSRA) or Environmental Screens (ES). Both of these products are substantially less expensive than a Phase I ESA, and for good reasons. Mixing the terms “Phase I” and “EDR” is like saying you want a motorcycle airplane. Both are transportation, but they don’t go together.
Phase I Testing – There is no actual soil or groundwater testing in a Phase I ESA. It’s historical database work combined with a walk through by an environmental professional. Most often when we hear people ask for Phase I Testing, if they don’t actually mean they want a Phase I ESA, it means they want Geotechnical testing done.
Environmental Audit – If you don’t know what “ESA” means, its easy to assume it might stand for “Audit”. Unfortunately, an Environmental Audit is a completely different animal; an environmental audit seeks to determine if a business is complying with internal and regulatory environmental policies. It examines the amount of harm or risk of injury that may be posed by the assessed entity and determines the types of pollution being produced by looking at a broad range of locations, activities, and procedures.
The Differences Between Geotechnical and Environmental:
Geotechnical work is done before a building is built in order to know that the soil is solid enough to hold the weight of a building. Environmental work is done to know if there’s contamination in the soil. When people call us asking for Phase I ESAs on vacant residential lots we always get suspicious that what they really want is Geotechnical work. Residential lots rarely get full Phase I ESAs because residentially zoned property is rarely contaminated by its neighbors. We have other less expensive products to quickly determine environmental contamination on residential lots.
If you need a Phase I Investigation on your property or one you are interested in purchasing, give A3 Environmental Consultants a call. We’ll work to get your Environmental REC removed with the utmost in confidentiality, we’ll meet or exceed ASTM Standard E1527-13 on any sort of commercial or industrial property. Our reports meet the requirements of all lenders and government agencies such as the Small Business Administration (SBA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). A3 Environmental Consultants can be reached at (888) 405-1742 or by email at Info@A3E.com.