Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment

Peace of Mind in Due Diligence

Our comprehensive site history investigations allow you to survey the environmental risk landscape before buying commercial property, so nothing is overlooked that could undermine your investment down the road.

Due Diligence

The first step in every commercial real estate process.

MORAN ROCKS performs comprehensive Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) following EPA and ASTM standards for real estate transactions, property development, financing, and internal audits.

The goal of a Phase 1 ESA is to gather enough information to develop an independent professional opinion about whether there is any environmental contamination on the property that could impact its value or eligibility for liability protections as an “innocent land owner.”

A Phase 1 ESA is an essential first step when acquiring commercial or industrial property to determine if there is potential environmental risk or contamination that warrants further investigation and testing. It assesses if there are any “red flags” that could affect the property’s value or pose legal liabilities related to environmental issues.

Phase 1s are a critical component of due diligence when purchasing commercial real estate. Phase 1s provide buyers and sellers with valuable information about the environmental risks associated with a property.  

A key reason Phase 1 ESAs are vital is they can reveal potential environmental contamination liabilities. If contamination exists, the buyer could become legally responsible for the costly remediation. The Phase 1 ESA helps uncover environmental issues early in the transaction process so the buyer can factor the remediation costs into negotiations with the seller on the purchase price.

In addition to revealing contamination hazards, Phase 1 ESAs are important because they can identify environmental compliance problems on the site that the buyer would need to address. This may include issues like improper storage tanks, hazardous materials not being handled correctly, or wastewater discharge violations. Having knowledge of these environmental risks in advance allows the buyer to better evaluate investment requirements and avoid expensive surprises down the road. Conducting thorough due diligence, including a Phase I ESA, helps real estate buyers make fully informed decisions on property transactions.

About this Process

Planning and Preparation
  • Scope out the physical site boundaries and locations to be assessed
  • Research property ownership, land use history, prior reports/assessments
  • Arrange site reconnaissance logistics
Records Review
  • Acquire and examine environmental records from federal, state, and local agencies
  • Review historical use records, permits, compliance reports, notices/violations
Site Reconnaissance
  • Physically walkthrough site to visually identify any environmental issues
  • Document site conditions through photographs, notes, sampling (if applicable)
Interviews
  • Interview past/present owners, operators, occupants, and/or neighbors
  • Inquire about property uses, environmental issues, permits, spills, storage tanks
Report Preparation
  • Analyze all records, reconnaissance, and interview data
  • Identify recognized environmental conditions
  • Provide opinions, conclusions, and recommendations
  • Prepare final written report summarizing findings and any additional action
Continuing Obligations
  • Consider any additional relevant environmental records if obtained after report completion
  • Determine if new information changes the site assessment findings/conclusions
The Phase I ESA provides buyers with a baseline assessment of environmental risk associated with the property. If high risk indications are found, a Phase II assessment involving lab testing/sampling may then be recommended.

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(786) 263-9185

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Related Services

Phase II Environmental Site Assessments

If a Phase I ESA identifies potential contamination issues, a Phase II ESA takes the next investigative step by collecting soil, groundwater, and other samples to test in the lab for confirmation of contamination types and concentrations.

Baseline Environmental Assessments

These create a snapshot of the current environmental status through sampling. This establishes a property’s baseline contamination levels before ownership transfers so buyers are not liable for pre-existing issues.

Stormwater Management Plans

Stormwater Management Plans – Sites with large impervious surfaces must develop stormwater management plans showing how they control runoff through best management practices. MORAN ROCKS assists in document preparation, implementation, and reporting.

F.A.Q.

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is a vital initial step when acquiring commercial property, allowing buyers to identify environmental issues upfront through records search, site inspection, and interviews so they can factor in remediation costs and reduce liability exposure. Get your key questions answered on process, timing, findings, contamination follow-up, and assessor qualifications.

What exactly does a Phase I ESA entail?

A Phase I ESA is a non-intrusive investigation in which no sampling or testing is conducted. It involves records reviews, interviews, and a site reconnaissance to visually identify any environmental issues that warrant further investigation.

How long does a Phase I ESA take to complete?

A basic Phase I ESA takes around 2-3 weeks. The records review comprises the bulk of this time, while the site visit and interviews can usually be conducted in 1-2 days. The final report is then compiled within a week.

What type of issues can a Phase I uncover?

Common issues include current/historic storage tanks, hazardous materials, waste disposal, asbestos, lead paint, groundwater contamination, soil staining – anything that indicates a potential environmental impact. Identification of these issues allows buyers to assess risk.

What if contamination is suspected on site after the assessment?

If the Phase I ESA produces evidence to warrant further investigation, the next step is a Phase II ESA involving collection of soil, groundwater or other samples for lab testing to confirm or deny contamination suspicions.

Who should carry out the Phase I ESA assessment?

Assessments should be conducted by a qualified Environmental Professional (EP) meeting specific education and experience standards per ASTM E1527-21 guidelines. The EP must be objective and independent from the property transaction.

Conducting a Phase I ESA is vital for understanding the scope of environmental issues and associated liabilities when acquiring commercial real estate. A qualified EP can determine if Phase II testing is recommended based on reconnaissance and records review.

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