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The What, Why, and How of a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment

So, what is a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment?

A Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment, commonly called an ESA, or Phase 1 ESA, is an assessment done to research the historical and current uses of a property as part of a Commercial Real Estate transaction.

Why do Commercial Real Estate transactions require a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment?

Phase 1 ESA is needed to assess if historical or current property uses have impacted the soil or groundwater beneath the property. If so, this could pose a threat to human health and a major issue for the environment. If these problems exist, then a potential liability is present for the owner and/or lender. This also affects the value of the property.

If a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment is finished pre-closure of a real estate transaction, it can be used to fulfill the requirements of CERCLA’s (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act) innocent land owner defense under All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI).

Finally, how are Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments completed?

First, it’s important to note that Phase 1 ESA’s can be done on all types of properties; industrial, multi-family residential, commercial, vacant land, and agricultural. But all Phase I ESA’s must comply with ASTM E1527-13. (exception being properties comprised of large primarily undeveloped land, which can be researched under ASTM E2247-16).

Below are the steps commonly followed for Phase I ESA’s.
1. Completing a site visit to observe uses of the property and adjacent properties along with past and current conditions of the property.
2. Reviewing federal, state, tribal, and local regulatory databases including, but not limited to, aboveground storage tanks (ASTs), underground storage tanks (USTs), known or suspected release cases, institutional and engineering controls, and the storage of hazardous substances and disposal of hazardous wastes including petroleum products.
3. Reviewing historical records, i.e. historical aerial photographs, fire insurance maps (Sanborn maps), historical topographic maps, and historical city directories.
4. Reviewing local and state agency records including, but not limited to, state environmental agencies, Fire Departments, Health Departments, and Building Departments.
5. Interviewing past and current property owners, occupants, operators, or others well known with the property.
6. Interviewing the Report User for judicial or title records for environmental liens and activity and use limitations (AULs); specialized experience or knowledge, actual knowledge; commonly known or reasonably ascertainable information; the reason for a significantly lower purchase price; and the reason for the preparation of the Phase I ESA. It’s the User responsibility to provide this information to qualify for the innocent landowner defense.
7. Finally, the Environmental Professional (EP) evaluates all of this information to identify potential environmental risks to the property. EPs highest concerns are with properties including, but not limited to, gas stations, dry cleaners, printing operations, manufacturing, and auto/vehicle repair.
8. Once the Phase I ESA is complete, the EP will summarize what issues were identified on the property and make recommended steps to address these concerns.

In summary, Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments identify existing or potential environmental contamination liabilities. They are done to satisfy Commercial and Residential Real Estate transactions and ensure environmentally and human safety. They are completed on all varieties of properties but all comply with ASTM E1527-13. UES Consulting Services is ready and happy to help with any and all of your Phase I and Phase II ESA needs.

 

UES Consulting and our team of inspectors would be glad to help you with your Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment.

Important Details to Note for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments…

While not part of ASTM requirements, Phase I ESA reports typically include a discussion of observed suspect asbestos containing materials (ACM), potential lead-based paint (LBP), and mold growth; as well as the potential for lead in drinking water and radon.  Sampling for these non-ASTM concerns is beyond the scope of a standard Phase I ESA, but can be included upon request.
ASTM E1527-13 provides the guidelines for a Phase I ESA report to meet industry standard, but there are other factors to consider when ordering a report.  Projects associated with Fannie MaeFreddie MacU.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Small Business Association (SBA) each have their own report requirements.  This is also true of other lending institutions.
A recognized environmental condition (REC) indicates known contamination or the potential for the subsurface to have been impacted by contamination (either from the subject property or possibly from an offsite source).  A controlled recognized environmental condition (CREC) identifies that the property has been impacted by contamination which has been investigated and remediated; however, contamination remains and would require additional work if redeveloped.  A historical recognized environmental condition (HREC) identifies a release impacted the subject property which has been investigated and remediated meeting unrestricted use criteria.

Women who are Inspiring the Commercial Real Estate Industry

Our Chief Marketing Director, Jamie Taylor, is a proud member of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) which is an industry networking organization. And according to a recent study published by CREW, women are advancing in commercial real estate, especially in the C-suite, and the shrinking salary gap. However, there are still areas for improvement to get more women intrigued in CRE brokerage, less of an income gap, and leasing and sales positions.

Here are 3 helpful pieces of advice to improve your professional career from respected female leaders in the Commercial Real Estate Industry.

This type of progress comes with lessons learned early on. The first few years of a career can be pivotal to future success.  Whether it is mastering the art of negotiation, relationship building, or finding your voice, these years can make or break any career.  Three women shared what they learned that helped them reach the success they have today and make their lessons work for them.

-Maryann Reid, Forbes Articles

1. Agree to Disagree

Advice given by Angele Robinson-Gaylord, President: IKEA Property, Inc.

  • As I began my career in commercial real estate, I had no idea how to build a career in this industry.  I did not study real estate in college or law school, had no family or personal connections to the industry, and was a female in a field that is overwhelmingly male. 
  • You have to be conversant in the language of real estate to do deals and build credibility.  
  • You have to recognize that every relationship is valuable. Your path will cross those of your peers time and again.  
  • When conducting transactions, you must be tough enough to get the deal done, yet you must learn to disagree agreeably to not gain a reputation as a deal killer.  
  • You must persevere in the face of any obstacle or naysayer to reach your goals.  In my case, it took 5 years to transition from practicing law to securing my first role on the business side of commercial real estate.  
  • Finally, I learned that you can’t do it alone.

2. Find Your Voice

Advice by Robin Kennedy, Executive Vice President, Acquisitions & Development: Montage International

  • Early in my career, I was put on the spot in a senior level meeting.  My opinion was different than many in the room, but I had a reasoned response. Granted, it was not the path that they chose, but that moment has had strong impact on me and served me well throughout my career.
  • Voicing my opinion was not always appropriate, as many times I wanted to learn from those with more experience.
  • But having this mindset has helped me to think about and become very practiced in how to make decisions.
  • It has helped me to take proactive ownership and move strategically forward.
  • At this point in my career, while the final decisions are often on my shoulders, I value those that can provide me with thoughtful opinions along the way.”

3. Trust Yourself

Lesley Horton Campbell, Associate General Counsel: Tiffany & Co.

  • Never be afraid to step up and trust that you are smart enough to handle a stretch assignment.
  • I made the mistake early on in my career of not stepping up for an assignment because I assumed that I was too junior and that naturally it would go to a more senior experienced colleague.
  • The next time the same opportunity came around, I quickly stepped up without hesitation and ended up knocking it out of the park.

Need help with environmental consulting? UES Consulting and our broad team of inspectors are skilled in the demands of commercial and multi-family transactions. We know how in-depth and time-sensitive Phase I Environmental Site Assessments and Property Condition Assessments are and we can help the process go smoothly and finish on time.

If you are looking for a company to partner with on your commercial real estate transactions of any kind, we are here to alleviate the weight of environmental issues and minimize risks. 

UES joins CREW KC!

UES is proud to have our Chief Marketing Officer, Jamie Taylor, as a new member to CREW KC in 2018. Along with her member status, Jamie has also joined the program committee. She wants to lend her knowledge of conference/meeting planning and educational events to the local chapter. As an event sponsor, UES has been a long-time friend and supporter to the organization. We believe in the networking opportunities and educational offerings provided to the women working in commercial real estate are invaluable in promoting equality and advancement.

CREW KC is a non-profit organization of commercial real estate professionals affiliated nationally through membership in the CREW Network. Thus providing opportunities for networking, education, leadership development and civic/philanthropic involvement. CREW KC promotes the highest standards of ethics and integrity. They seek to positively influence the direction of Kansas City’s commercial real estate industry and community.

Finally, we look forward to a year of making new connections and growing in our support of CREW KC!