Environmental Due Diligence
Environmental due diligence helps identify potential environmental risks associated with a property. This includes the presence of contaminants such as hazardous substances, pollutants, or other environmental hazards. Identifying these risks is crucial for making informed decisions about the property.
Failing to conduct proper environmental due diligence can lead to legal liabilities. If a property is found to have environmental issues after a transaction or development has taken place, the responsible parties may face legal consequences. Due diligence helps avoid such liabilities by identifying and addressing environmental concerns upfront.
Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) are specialized investigations conducted on commercial and industrial properties to answer questions about the potential presence of contamination. ESAs are often completed to satisfy the due diligence component of real estate transactions, such as the transfer of ownership or redevelopment of the property. HR Green’s experienced environmental staff helps our clients navigate each step of the process to manage a successful outcome.
Phase I ESAs
Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) are non-intrusive investigations and are the first step in evaluating a property. It involves an Environmental Professional (EP) conducting the following activities:
- Reviewing Historical Records: Aerial photography, city directories, fire insurance maps, and topographic maps help the EP piece together how a targeted site and surrounding area were used over time.
- Reviewing State and Federal Environmental Databases: Regulatory records provide the EP with an overview of how industries operate and dispose of their hazardous substances and petroleum products.
- Conducting Interviews: Talking with individuals familiar with a targeted site, such as a current or past owner, property manager, or local official, assist the EP in better understanding site operations through the collection of anecdotal information and issued permits.
- Conducting a Site Visit: This process allows an EP to visually inspect the targeted site and surrounding area for indications of past or threatened releases into the environment.
Phase II ESAs
Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) involve physical sampling and testing of soil, water, air, or building materials to confirm the presence and extent of contamination.
- Sampling: Parameters, locations, and media are determined using information obtained from the Phase I ESA.
- Results: Compared to applicable threshold values such as statewide standards, site-specific standards, or regional screening levels to determine appropriate next steps based on the planned use of a targeted site.
- Exposure Risk: Special consideration is given to future users, such as residents, employees, or construction workers.
- Solutions: Cleanup, deed restrictions (like prohibition of private drinking water wells or residential reuse), or use of engineering controls (like the intentional placement of paving for capping purposes).
- Limit Risk: Identify ecological concerns left by previous owners providing documentation for legal defense in case of issues.
- Secure Protection: Buyer not held responsible per provisions outlined in Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).