Environmental Site Assessments: 

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process

Purpose: To identify environmental conditions prior to entering into a contract for sale, re-financing, or option agreement, and ultimately to assist property owners to choose a site that presents manageable environmental risks.

Goal and Objectives: A Phase I environmental site assessment (ESA) is a qualitative assessment intended to help owners of property satisfy one of the requirements to qualify for CERCLA's(1) innocent landowner defense.  Since the mid-1980s, it has also been incorporated into the environmental policies of most lending organizations as a requirement of any loan application involving a parcel of commercial real estate.

Please note that in a Phase I ESA, no samples nor tests are made of any materials (i.e., no air, water, soil, building materials or site substances are tested or analyzed).  In addition, a Phase I ESA is not an operational regulatory compliance audit.  Federal, state, and local laws may impose environmental obligations that are usually not included in a Phase I ESA.

READ THE ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY OF YOUR BANK.  ARE YOU REQUIRED TO PERFORM AN ASSESSMENT BEYOND THE SCOPE OF ASTM(2) E 1527 STANDARD PRACTICE?  Non-scope considerations include, but are not limited to: asbestos-containing materials, radon, lead-based paint, lead in drinking water, and wetlands.

(1) CERCLA = Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, as amended

(2) ASTM = American Society for Testing and Materials

Beyond a Phase I:  A Phase II assessment may be defined as a quantitative assessment.  It is the actual testing for specific hazards, which may be identified in the Phase I assessment, such as soil (soil borings), water (monitoring wells), on-site substances, and direct testing of building materials and the property.  A Phase III assessment recommends management practices (i.e., corrective action) of the confirmed environmental conditions based on the findings of the previous phases.

For Your Information: It has been our experience that no environmental site assessment can wholly eliminate uncertainty regarding the potential for identifying recognized conditions on a property.  Historical research combined with the site investigation (and not publicly available government records) is the principal source for identifying environmental conditions on a property.

On an average, less than 10% of properties with Phase I assessments will recommend Phase II activities.

According to a recent article, (Environmental Site Assessment Report, Volume IV, No. 7) "Fitch IBCA estimates that 33% to 50% of all defaulted loans will likely have an environmental issue."

Cost: With few exceptions, our estimated cost will be between $1,700 and $2,400.

If you would like to request a Phase I environmental assessment, feel free to email us, being sure to include the following pieces of information:

Or, click here for a printer-friendly form that you may fax to us at (845) 208-0451.

Regardless of which method you choose, you will be contacted within one business day with a response to your request.