Limited Environmental Site Assessment

A Limited Environmental Site Assessment is a preliminary method of researching a property for potential environmental risks or liability, prior to acquisition or title exchange. Typically, comprehensive environmental due diligence reports become necessary by investors and legal counsel. For instance, a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment and Phase 2 Environmental Subsurface Investigation. However, sometimes landowners may independently conduct a Limited Environmental Site Assessment prior to a full scope ESA. By taking smaller steps in this process, landowners can use preliminary results to determine whether pursuing a property is in their interest. Updated April 2, 2020.

Low vs High Risk of Environmental Liability

Limited Environmental Site Assessment Reports apply for any commercial and industrial property. This is regardless of whether a history of contamination is apparent or not. For example, office buildings, liquor stores, shopping centers, warehouses, apartment complexes, and more. Up-front, these are understandably lower-risk properties, which still require some level of limited environmental due diligence. Alternatively, the more-comprehensive site assessments, such as a Phase 1 ESA, apply mostly towards properties that apparently do have higher environmental liability risk. For instance, gasoline stations, dry cleaners, factories, and more. Naturally, these are higher-risk lots, which require ASTM-compliant risk assessments by environmental professionals with State certifications.

Liability Protection

A proper Environmental Site Assessment which meets all EPA and ASTM guidelines also provides buyers with CERCLA liability protection as Innocent Land Owners (ILO). Unfortunately, most Limited Environmental Site Assessment reports alone do not fulfill the All Appropriate Inquiries rule. However, such limited reports are a cost-effective way to initially evaluate the environmental risk of a property. And if a report user then chooses to follow through with a full-scope Phase 1 ESA and Phase 2 ESA to meet ASTM standards, the information from the limited ESA applies to the process.

Desktop Environmental Report

A Desktop Environmental Report is a limited due diligence report that allows property owners to economically evaluate the potential for contamination risk at a property by unforeseen causes. This type of report implements some of the many components with a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment. For instance, historical fire insurance maps, or government database records. As a result, the data gathered by an Environmental Desktop Report can easily upgrade towards a proper Phase 1 ESA afterward.

SBA Transaction Screen Assessment

An SBA Transaction Screen Assessment is one type of limited environmental site assessment report which gears towards the loan qualification process for the Small Business Administration. Transaction Screen Assessments are similar to desktop reports, in the sense that they can upgrade towards Phase 1 ESA reports later down the line.

Limited Subsurface Contamination Testing

Limited Subsurface Contamination Testing can be similar in scope to a Phase 2 Environmental Subsurface Investigation. In fact, conclusions can be made¬†using Phase 2 ESA Screening Levels. Although, without the prerequisite Phase 1 Environmental Report, it cannot actually be referred to as a “Phase 2 ESA.” Nonetheless, this report can provide a landowner with a particular set of data that may be certain enough to independently determine whether contamination exists or not. Moreover, this data can be a tool when deciding about engaging in a transaction.

Deciding between Limited Environmental Site Assessment Reports and completeing Phase I Site Assessment Reports can be difficult. For all inquiries, call us at (888) 930-6604 to speak with a geologist or engineer.