Phase I environmental Site Assessments
A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, commonly referred to as a Phase I ESA, is completed to research the current and historical uses of a property as part of a commercial real estate transaction. The intent of the report is to assess if current or historical property uses have impacted the soil or groundwater beneath the property and could pose a threat to the environment and/or human health.
If these issues are found, it presents a potential liability for the lender and/or owner, as well as affecting the value of the property. A Phase I ESA completed prior to the closure of a real estate transaction can be used to satisfy the requirements of CERCLA’s (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act) innocent land owner defense under All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI).
Because wetlands are protected by various federal, state and local laws, the boundary of the protected wetland is important to determine before any development or construction is approved by various governmental agencies. In addition the location of wetlands is important to understand before land purchases as part of due diligence.
Wetland delineations are conducted in accordance with the 1987 USACE Wetland Delineation Manual. Wetlands must have three specific criteria in order to be classified as a wetland: hydric soils, hydrophytic vegetation, and hydrology. During a wetland delineation, a project area is surveyed to determine whether wetlands with the three criteria are present.
Phase II Environmental Site assessments
When a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) identifies a recognized environmental condition or the potential for soil or groundwater contamination, clients may request to evaluate the potential contamination by performing Phase II Environmental Testing.
The purpose of a Phase II Environmental Report is to determine the presence, or absence of, petroleum products or hazardous waste in the subsurface of the site.
Property condition assessments and reports
Property condition assessments (PCAs) are due diligence projects associated with commercial real estate. Commercial property and building inspections are important for clients seeking to know the condition of a property or real estate they may be purchasing, leasing, financing or simply maintaining. Commercial Building Inspectors generally follow industry accepted guidelines of ASTM E2018, the only recognized standard of major lenders. Often they are done as part of a property transfer and are done along with a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment.
Once the inspection or Property Condition Assessment is completed, a written report (also known as the Property Condition Report or PCR) is compiled and delivered to the client within an acceptable time frame. The most important parts of the PCR are the Immediate Repairs Table and the Replacement Reserve Table, which help the client understand how the condition of the building will impact the asset's financial performance.
Phase III Environmental Site assessments
During a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment, intrusive testing is performed on a property to determine if environmental contaminants are present on a property. If no contaminants are found, a Phase III Assessment is not necessary.
However, if contaminants are found, a Phase III Assessment takes the information from a Phase II and determines the extent of contamination of the property. It is a much more detailed investigation of the property, and is necessary to uncover additional information before remediation work can take place.
threatened and endangered species surveys
Most state and federally funded, or permitted projects, require evaluation of threatened and endangered species and consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and State wildlife agencies. A cursory evaluation is initially conducted, and if specific habitat and/or species are observed, a more detailed survey is typically performed.
The detailed survey, or Biological Assessment, may include detailed evaluations of the project site, often during specific times of the year to coincide with vegetative or flowering stages in protected plants or migration or life cycle patterns of protected animals.