Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA)

Before buying or selling a commercial property, involved parties often require assessments to identify hazardous waste contamination that could pose a threat to human health. As a result, these types of environmental issues can significantly affect property value. If such problems are found, they present potential liability for the lender and property owner.

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is conducted to determine if any situations can be identified as a Recognized Environmental Condition (REC). This is the presence or likely presence of hazardous substances in, on, or at the property. Through onsite evaluations and researching regulatory and historical information, our highly trained staff will identify any potential risks and offer recommendations to assist your real estate projects.

Standards for the Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III Environmental Site Assessments have been established by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to address the “All-Appropriate-Inquiry” (AAI) aspect of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Substances examined during the ESA include those within the scope of the CERCLA, pollutants, contaminants, petroleum and petroleum products, controlled substances and their related components.

Phase I ESA Process


A review of federal, state, and local regulatory databases and environmental agencies, as well as the evaluation of relevant historical records, topographic maps, and aerial photographs


Observations of the current and past conditions of the property and its adjacent properties


Interviews with current and past property owners, operators, occupants, and others familiar with the property


A summary of the concerns identified on the property and recommendations about what actions are needed to address these environmental concerns

Phase II Environmental Assessments

If a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment identifies potential contamination by hazardous materials, a Phase II ESA may be conducted. Phase II includes sampling and laboratory analysis to confirm the presence of hazardous materials.


A recognized environmental condition (REC) indicates known contamination or the potential for the subsurface to have been affected by contamination.

A controlled recognized environmental condition (CREC) identifies that the property has been impacted by contamination which has been investigated and remediated. However, the contamination remains and would require additional work if the property is redeveloped.

A historical recognized environmental condition (HREC) identifies a release impacted the property which has been investigated and remediated meeting unrestricted use criteria.