Hot Environmental Topics

Phase I Environmental

Aug 29, 2022 11:15:00 AM / by David C Sulock

Buying or selling a commercial property?   If so,  you should know what a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is.   Phase I is a form of due diligence completed during real estate transactions. Buyers perform Phase I's to ensure they are not buying an environmental cleanup. Sellers also perform Phase I's to address any issues that would delay the sale and use it as a marketing tool when selling the property.  Properties with clean Phase I reports sell faster with no questions asked.

So what is the Phase I Process?

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) uses the protocols as set forth in the Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process (E1527-21), prepared by ASTM International.

Phase I Purpose

The primary purpose of Phase I is to document the inquiry of the environmental professional for All Appropriate Inquiries for the subject site. This practice is intended to permit a user (person paying for the Phase I) to satisfy one of the requirements to qualify for the innocent landowner, contiguous property owner, or bona fide prospective purchaser limitations on CERCLA liability (from now on, the “landowner liability protections,” or “LLPs”): that is, the practice that constitutes all appropriate inquiries into the previous ownership and uses of the property consistent with good commercial and customary practice as defined at 42 U.S.C. 9601(35) (B). The Phase I  report is not intended to be part of the site characterization and assessment with the use of a grant awarded under CERCLA Section 104(k) (2) (B). More specifically, the scope is intended to identify conditions indicative of releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances on, at, in, or to the subject site.


Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)

 Phase I looks into if any past and current use of the site, adjacent and abutting property, and nearby off-site operations have or have the potential to adversely affect the environmental quality of the subject site. The information contained within Phase I is obtained from the performance of a site inspection, the use of an environmental information service company, and face-to-face and/or telephone interviews with persons familiar with the Subject site.

Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs)

The scope of an ESA is to identify Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) in accordance with ASTM E1257-21. In addition, Curren’s ESA shall include a visual evaluation or assessment of the following non-scope issues: asbestos-containing building materials (ACBMs), lead-based paint (LBP), radon, mold, and land use restrictions. No sampling was conducted as a part of this Phase I.

How is Phase I conducted?

Phase I is conducted by performing the following tasks:

  • Physical site inspection
  • Federal, State, and local regulatory document review and personnel contact
  • Examination of aerial photographs, Sanborn historical fire insurance maps, topographic maps, etc.
  • Geologic and hydrogeological data review
  • A cursory inspection of adjacent properties


Phase I can be hundreds of pages long if no longer.   For ease of understanding Executive Summaries are included with each report so primary issues of concern can be easily accessed. 


Curren Environmental has over 25 years of experience performing Phase I Assessments. Call the Experts.


Call Curren Today



David C Sulock

Written by David C Sulock

Subscribe to Email Updates

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

see all

Recent Posts