A Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment is a report prepared about a real estate property that seeks to undercover any environmental contaminations or other liabilities. These can be existing or potential problems. A phase 1 environmental site assessment does not only examine just the land, but it also covers any structural improvements or buildings on the property. The phase 1 environmental site assessment is performed as part of the environmental due diligence when purchasing a commercial property. It does not include any water or soil sampling. Phase one studies are done under ASTM Standard E1527-13, aso found here.

If a site is found to be contaminated, a Phase 2 environmental site assessment will be performed under ASTM E1903 standards. This includes a more detailed investigation to sample soil, groundwater, etc, for petroleum, hydrocarbons, and other dangerous chemicals.

Phase I site assessments are usually performed prior to purchase of property that was not previously titled or for compulsory reasons if there is a suspected environmental contamination on the property. It can also be performed at the request of a lender or public agency. The report includes examination of the soild, groundwater, surface water, and onsite buildings. It usually consists of an onsite visit, evaluation of risks of neighboring properties, review of records of sites out to specified distances, interviews of knowledgeable people, file searches, examination of historical aerial photography, and examination of USGS maps.

Other items that may be performed but are not included in the scope of a phase one are assessment for asbestos containing building materials (ACBM), vapor intrusion, earthquake hazard, debris or groundwater flow, mercury, endangered species, wetlands (especially important in Louisiana and Florida), mold,  and lead.

Although a multidisciplinary approach utilizing a diverse team is usually employed, the person signing off on the Phase 1 must meet one of the following requirements:

  1. current PE or PG (professional engineer or geologist) with licensure and 3-years experience
  2. baccalaureate or higher degree in engineering or science with 5 years experience
  3. have the equivalent of 10 years full time experience