A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is a comprehensive review of the environmental risks past, present and future on a commercial property. Typically done during a change in ownership of commercial property, buyers, sellers or banks commission them. Ultimately, reasons to perform an environmental site assessment are to protect the value of the collateral for a loan for the buyer and lender. Environmental issues can be very expensive. It is not impossible for a property value to become negative due to environmental impacts from previous owners or neighboring businesses. The bank doesn’t want to lend on a property it might get back in a foreclosure. They really don’t want a property they can’t resell without mitigating the environmental liability.
If a property is purchased without a Phase I ESA, the liability of the environmental impact is transferred to the new owner. When a bank takes back a property through foreclosure they’ll inherit the environmental liability too. So banks often won’t take possession of their own commercial foreclosures without a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment.
Table Of Contents
Phase I Audit: Comprehensive Database Search
The Phase I Environmental Site Assessment starts with a comprehensive database search. We review the Federal, State, County and Municipal databases to find any business within 1 mile of your property that used or transported hazardous materials. A3E will find any leaking underground storage tanks. We’ll discover where in the regulatory process your neighbors open cases are with the State Department of Environmental Quality. If any concern showed up on any database that’s in the government’s possession, we’ll find it.
Phase I Inspection: City Directories
City Directories are phone books. We search them based on your property’s address to find out what kinds of businesses occupied the location going back to the dawn of the telephone. The names of the business tell us if we should be concerned about the chemicals they historically used.
Our scientists are especially interested in dry cleaning locations, plating facilities, and gas stations. Dry cleaners and gas stations have been around for over 100 years with areas possibly being redeveloped several times since then. Those chemicals, or worse yet, the tanks that held them could still be in the ground all these years later. They could be presenting health risks to anyone who digs in the soil, breathes the air inside a building or drinks the water.
Phase I Investigation: Fire Insurance Maps
Fire Insurance Maps are maps that tell insurance companies what structures existed on a property during any given year in the past.
Fire Insurance Maps come from a time when it was possible, maybe even inevitable that entire towns were capable of burning down. The Fire Insurance Maps helped to sort out insurance claims should catastrophic fires claim an area. Fortunately, they are still available and very enlightening as to past uses of urban sites going back to the 1880’s.
A3 Environmental uses these maps to see the use of our client’s property and the surrounding parcels. Often these maps will show the location of underground tanks that may or may not have been removed and the types of chemicals they used to contain.
Phase I Report: Historic Aerials
Cities and Counties routinely took aerial photographs for a variety of reasons throughout history.
Imagine you were going to purchase a vacant parcel of land with nothing other than some grasses and mature trees on it. What you can’t tell from looking at the land is that in 1920, there was a factory that used and stored chemicals that contaminated the ground. Historic aerials would show the factory and give us an idea of where the chemicals were stored. Even though the buildings were demolished long enough ago that mature trees have taken their place, we’ll know what was there.
Fire insurance maps give us insight into what we should worry about, so you don’t have to worry. A3E will dig in and find your answers.
Phase I Survey: Onsite Visit with Environmental Professional
We send an environmental professional, trained in spotting the telltale signs of environmental issues to your property for a walkthrough.
Nothing beats experienced eyes inspecting your site. Our scientists routinely find fill pipes to underground storage tanks that the owners never knew existed or had no idea what they were for. Our inspections usually take about an hour, depending on the size, and we take a lot of pictures for our report. Sometimes the inspections lead to more questions. We won’t leave you hanging, we find the answers.
Phase I EPA? Is that a thing?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has nothing to do with a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment at the federal or state level. Although, frequently, these two terms are confused when people speak about them. It has everything to do with how close they sound and their related industries.
Phase I Testing?
There is no soil testing, laboratory work or analytical as part of a standard Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. If we find a Recognized Environmental Concern (REC), the project proceeds to a Phase II ESA which typically involves soil testing.
Phase I ASTM: E1527-13
The final step is to deliver to the client a report that summarizes our findings in the expected format. We utilize the ASTM E1527-13 standard which is accepted by all banks and the Small Business Administration (SBA). We can provide a SBA reliance letter to round out the complete kit you’ll need to get a loan.
Our reports are routinely 400 pages. We deliver them electronically. Inside the first few pages you find an executive summary which will quickly give you your answer as to what we found.
Most Phase I ESAs we do come back as clean. Sometimes we find what are called Recognized Environmental Concerns (REC) which may need further investigation. That deeper dive to understand the RECs is called a Phase II ESA.
Phase 1 ESA Cost?
A typical cost for a standard Phase 1 ESA is $2000. The typical turnaround time is 10 – 15 business days. Rush orders are A3 Environmental Consultants specialty. We perform RUSH orders in 5 business days. Please confirm with us to make sure we have availability to RUSH your Phase I Environmental Site Assessment
Where Can I Get A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment?
If you need an Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, research or testing done on your property or one you are interested in purchasing, give A3 Environmental Consultants a call. We’ll get your project done with the utmost in confidentiality, we’ll meet or exceed ASTM Standard E1527-13 on any sort of commercial or industrial property. Our Assessments 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.