Phase I ESA

FLS’s staff are due diligence experts experienced with providing Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) across the greater New York City Metro area for over fifty years. Our experienced professionals provide clients with accurate assessments of potential environmental liabilities.  FLS provides high-quality Phase I ESA’s go above and beyond the typical product to ensure all elements of the ASTM 1527-21 standard are met and clients are protected in real estate transactions.

Phase I ESA is an integral tool for managing risk during commercial real estate transactions and is considered the gold standard for evaluating the environmental liability associated with any commercial real estate asset type. Whether the property is industrial, commercial, mixed-use, or multifamily, FLS is truly an expert in evaluating properties in accordance with the ASTM E1527 Standard requirements. Our Phase I ESAs are performed by our qualified teams of Environmental Professionals who meet the requirements of the EPA’s AAI Standard.

The EPA’s All Appropriate Inquiries Rule governing the scope of Phase I ESAs went into effect on November 1, 2006, and provided specific scope requirements for a Phase I ESA to meet the requirements of CERCLA’s innocent landowner defense.  FLS’s risk practice, helps our clients meet the legal requirements for CERCLA innocent landowner defense and provides practical business advice on environmental liability to our clients.  Recently, the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) Phase I ESA standard was updated (ASTM E1527-21).  The new standard took effect on January 1, 2022 and replaced the E1527-13 standard. Upon publishing, the EPA for commenced review to verify the new standard satisfies AAI requirements and on December 12, 2022 EPA approved the new standard, which became effective on February 13, 2023.

Although not significant the revised changes include:

  • Historical Research – The E1527-21 now requires at least the four historical sources (aerial photographs, topographic maps, fire insurance maps, and city directories) for both the subject property and its adjoining properties or the Environmental Professional must explain why the review was not completed and may need to review additional resources. Additionally, if historically industrial or manufacturing additional research (building department records, property tax files, interviews, and zoning), may be required.
  • Definitions – The definitions for Recognized Environmental Condition (REC), Controlled REC (CREC), and Historical REC (HREC) were updated for consistency.  In addition, new definitions were added for the terms: Likely, Property Use Limitation, and Significant Data Gap.
  • ESA Shelf Life – The E1527-21 standard will now require the inclusion of the dates upon which relevant parts of the assessment were completed to make it easier for users to recognize when updates are needed so that they comply with AAI’s 180-day viability timeframe.
  • Emerging Contaminants – The new standard has added PFAS and other emerging contaminants to the list of “non-scope issues” that a user may want to evaluate as a business risk, as is commonly done with asbestos and mold. Until EPA classifies PFAS as a hazardous substance, it cannot be considered a REC within the constructs of an ESA.