What is a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment?

Phase I Environmental Site Assessments are conducted to identify the potential for contamination at a site. The objective is to provide a preliminary estimate of the nature, extent and severity of any contamination. As part of the phase 1 environmental site assessment, an initial assessment will be made to determine if a site inspection is warranted. This determination is based on the type of use, nature and age of the property as well as proximity to nearby commercial and/or industrial areas.

Perhaps an environmental issue has come up that wasn’t disclosed on the commercial real estate listing. These problems are not unheard of, but they can be avoided through an environmental site assessment (ESA).

What Does a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Include?

Typically, the first inspection phase of a Phase I ESA entails a reviewing history and evaluating the commercial compound site by an environmental consultant on-site. After assessing the property, the consultant will gather the information for a summary report.

Here’s what you can expect:

Historical Review of the Property Site

Your environmental consultant will conduct a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) of the property and its land site. Researching the history of the building will contribute to environmental consultants locating harmful or toxic materials that were disturbed or could remain on the heavily wooded land.

Your environmental consultant(s) may necessitate some investigative work in order to determine the history of your site. This may entail scouring public records and interviewing past owners, neighbors, and community members, in addition to searching online.

On-Site Inspection of the Property

After examining the records of your site, your environmental consultant(s) will conduct a complete walk-through of the property, looking for signs of waste or contamination. During the walk-through, your environmental consultant(s) will carefully inspect all exterior sites.

Report of Findings and Recommendations

Phase I ESA is a first step in environmental consulting. A qualified environmental consultant will render you with what you can expect from the Phase I ESA report once it has been completed. The consultant will provide an elaborate account of the matter, including details about the hazardous materials identified during the inspection.

If any hazardous substances were found in soil or water samples, the report might indicate you should take measures to reduce contamination. Methods may include disposing of or neutralizing contaminated soil and getting rid of hazards from the particular area.They can also recommend a follow-up Phase II Environmental Site Assessment to see whether any contaminants are found in soil or drinking water.

What If You Need to Perform a Phase II ESA?

If your environmental consultants notice hazardous materials during the initial site assessment, you could be unable to purchase the property. In this case, you may need to conduct a second Phase II Environmental Site Assessment.

During a Phase II ESA, your environmental consultants will collect samples in your own home and then ship them to a laboratory for testing. The lab will test each specimen completely and provide you with a report for each analysis.


Your environmental consultants will use the test results to determine whether your soil contains pollutants and what course of action, if any, they should take in order to comply with environmental laws. Based on the results, they will recommend a course of action that can help meet your safety guidelines.

James Chalmers
the authorJames Chalmers