Why Environmental Site Assessments are Necessary
Environmental Site Assessments is a term property owners may hear often but are not fully aware of the importance and legal protection they offer. As a property owner, you would be responsible for any environmental hazards caused by your property, regardless of when the negligence occurred. This is why conducting an Environmental Site Assessment before signing on the dotted line is essential.
What is an Environmental Site Assessment
In layman’s terms, Environmental Site Assessments, or ESAs, are a comprehensive review of the environmental conditions at a specific property. For example, the environmental conditions can range from mold to asbestos to water and soil contaminants. Environmental professionals are hired to perform the assessment, which can take place in several phases.
<Learn about the 3 phases of Environmental Site Assessments>
During this assessment, they pinpoint and evaluate possible contaminants on the site which can be a crucial resource for lenders, land developers, real estate attorneys, property owners, and insurance companies. Additionally, ESAs can help a potential landowner understand property conditions by assessing current and historical site use and potential environmental or human health threats.
The assessments begin (and can sometimes end) with Phase I, a process where the site is visually inspected, past and current records are reviewed, owners are interviewed (as well as past workers and neighbors), and government databases related to ownership and management and disposal of hazardous substances are examined. If limited evidence of contamination is found, the landowner will typically proceed with redevelopment or reuse of the land. If evidence is found, Phases II and III are often instituted.
Why You Need One
ESAs are not mandatory, and while there are low-cost options, such as an environmental transaction screen (ETS), there are advantages and disadvantages to choosing an ETS. For example, they don’t require a consultant and offer a faster turnaround, but an ETS offers a limited scope of work, provides no Landowner Liability Protection, and you may miss critical environmental hazards. In addition, as a landowner, you never want to be in the position of owning property that is an ecological detriment.
At the minimum, performing Phase I demonstrates that you performed due diligence before obtaining or conducting transactions on a commercial property. Regardless of your choices, regulatory standards change with time and should be monitored by a professional to ensure your site is always in compliance.
Let us Help You Get Started
NoVA Environmental Solutions is here to help you navigate the often murky waters of environmental site compliance for your property. Please contact us if you have questions about environmental site assessments and learn more about how we can help you better understand the process. (540) 645-6141