As environmental professionals we get a lot of questions about the environmental questionnaire. A3 Environmental Consultants uses an online questionnaire to satisfy the requirements of what the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) ASTM is the governing body which determines what standards the environmental consulting business operates under. The reason this is important is because the reports we create need to be read and understood by many third parties such as CRE agents and brokers, banks, lenders and financial institutions, governments and regulators. Without a standard organization... More standard calls AAI, or All Appropriate Inquiries. The survey questions are designed for the respondent to answer as either the “user” or “property owner”. Things quickly get confusing.
Commercial Properties can be bought, sold and refinanced and who the user is in a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment depends solely on who is paying the consultant. Sometimes it’s the buyer, sometimes the seller and if there’s a refinance going on, the user is both the user and property owner.
In order to make this as simple as possible, A3E uses an online series of questions that adapts and changes depending on the answers entered into it. We use both closed ended questions and open ended questions to determine a baseline of what the user and seller, if there is one, know about the property.
Who’s the “User” in an Environmental Questionnaire?
It’s worth drilling into this if you’ve never seen the environmental questionnaire. We ask specific questions about environmental contamination to a buyer who knows very little about the property they are buying.
We do this by design!
We are establishing the fact that the buyer does not know anything about the property they are buying. This is super important because the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment serves as a limitation to the liability of the buyer.
However, sometimes the buyer knows a lot about a property.
Sometimes they are the renter for years before they buy it. Or, they might own a neighboring property. If they know about environmental contamination from the renter or neighbor perspective they need to disclose it. This establishment of a baseline of knowledge is what limits the liability of future owners (new buyers) from the possible misdeeds of previous owners.
So, if we ask you to fill out an environmental questionnaire as a buyer. And, if you find you don’t have a clue about any of the answers, you should feel great about answering, “I don’t know” to all the questions because “I don’t know” is what we expect. But, if you do know something, you need to tell us because that too is important to separating any environmental contamination you might cause in the future from anything the previous owner caused in the past.
If you need a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment 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.