What Is a Phase I Environmental Assessment?


Quick Answer

A Phase I Environmental Assessment is an introductory phase of real estate assessment that investigates the presence of environmental risks or contaminants that may affect the value of the property. The investigation gathers sufficient information to facilitate an independent, professional opinion about the environmental condition of a real estate asset.

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Full Answer

A Phase I Environmental Assessment checks for contaminants, such as petroleum hydrocarbons, asbestos, lead, radon and radiological hazards. The assessment also checks for pesticides, wetlands, endangered species, and cultural and historical resources. The assessment helps determine the accurate value of a property and reduces the risk of property transactions. In most cases, the law requires property stakeholders to conduct the assessment before transferring ownership of commercial property. Many banks also require trained environmental professionals to conduct the assessment before they can approve a loan taken for the purchase of property.

To conduct a Phase I Environmental Assessment, an environmental professional begins by examining records of previous transfers of ownership. Findings of heavy industrial activities may warrant further inspection in a Phase II Assessment. The environmental professional visually inspects the property and other surrounding properties, interviews people or organizations with information about the property, and makes a written report that outlines the findings of the investigation. During this phase, the assessor takes pictures of the property but does not test it for hazardous materials.

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