Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment 24

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment

This first step of environmental due diligence is a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment. This kind of assessment is also referred to as a Phase 1 ESA Report for short. A Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment studies historical and current land-use. For example, an apartment complex property today, may have been a gas station in the past. Additionally, a Phase 1 ESA Report can document the liability of a property. For instance, the likelihood of there being a contamination concern. Furthermore, a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment evaluates risk using EPA standards. In particular, ESA reports can serve to legally defend innocent landowners from unforeseeable environmental burdens.

  • Nationwide Bank-Approved
  • Lender-Authorized 
  • Certified Engineers & Geologists

When environmental issues are discovered in a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Report, soil testing may be reccomended. This process is a Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessmentalso referred to as a Phase 2 Subsurface Investigation.

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Industrial

© Marytka Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment

Phase 2 ESA 

Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment is a subsurface investigation. To illustrate, a Phase 2 ESA includes soil and groundwater testing. Furthermore, a Phase 2 Subsurface Investigation can include geophysical reports. Moreover, a Phase 2 ESA investigates whether contamination exists or not. The scope of work is based on the recognized environmental conditions from a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Report.

Phase 1 ESA at Pre-Purchase

To regulate Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Reports, the US EPA established the All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) rule. When Phase 1 ESA Reports qualify, they can provide landowner liability protection. Additionally, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has produced standards for Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments.  At the same time, these standards comply with CERCLA’s Innocent Land Owner (ILO) defense policies.

Landowners looking to qualify for CERCLA liability protection will require a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Report. The Geo Forward team prepares all Phase 1 ESA Reports to meet these requirements. In particular, the EPA’s All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) and the ASTM.

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Reports for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also follow these standards. Additionally, there is compliance by the Multifamily Accelerated Process.

A Phase 1 Environmental will Explore and Document the Earliest Available Records of Land Use

Phase I Environmental at Industrial Properties

Limited ESAs

In some cases, a full Phase 1 ESA Report may not be required. Thus, a limited environmental site assessment can be prepared.  Click here to learn about Limited Environmental Report Options.

A Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Includes a Review of Government Files

A Phase 1 Environmental Reviews Government Files

Scope of Work

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Reports are prepared by licensed professional geologists and engineers. To illustrate, reports include:

  • Job Site Visits
  • Historical Property Information
  • Regulatory Agency Files
  • Database Reports
  • Study and Analysis of Geology and Hydrogeology
  • Vapor Intrusion Risk Analysis
  • Environmental Liens and/or Activity Use Limitations
  • Conclusions and Recommendations


A Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Includes a Review of Historical Aerial Photographs

Historical Aerial Photographs for a Phase 1 ESA

Geo Forward can customize Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment report formats for your readability and ease.

For more information about Phase I ESAs, please call (888) 930-6604 to speak with a licensed engineer or geologist. 

Related Links

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund Website

§312.20 All Appropriate Inquiries – United States Government Publishing Office

United States EPA – Innocent Landowners

American Society of Testing and Materials


Forward-Thinking Geologists, Engineers, and Contractors

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24 thoughts on “Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment

  • Jason Woodson

    Its helpful to read about the differences between an actual phase 1 environmental site assessment and the other limited report options. thanks for providing the links about all appropriate inquiry and innocent land owner defense laws.

    • Azad A. Kaligi, PG

      Hi Gregg. The Phase I ESA process for properties owned by any government entity (state, county, city, etc) is the same as it would be for a corner lot owned by a private party. In all cases, this process is required to follow the ASTM E1527 standards.

  • Steven Wade

    Does a phase one environmental report in Los Angeles cost differently than a site assessment report in Orange County? How about state to state?

    • Azad A. Kaligi, PG Post author

      Phase I Environmental Reports will pretty much be similar in pricing across most of southern California. And although the Phase I ESA process is practically the same across various states, costs can slightly differ depending on whether the property is rural or difficult to access for site reconnaissance.

  • Devin Palmer

    Can you prepare level 1 environmental site assessments for multiple parcels of land together? Or will there need to be a separate report for each parcel?

    • Azad A. Kaligi, PG Post author

      Absolutely. Geo Forward, Inc. offers Phase 1 ESA reports that are approved by all banks and financial entities across the nation. Each report is prepared under the guidelines of the ASTM and USEPA. Moreover, we are an approved environmental engineering consultant for most local banking groups too.

      Our team provides environmental reports for any/all financial institutions you are working with.

  • Aaron Cruz

    I called other companies that just put me through to clueless salesman (so annoying). One of them even claimed to be the “only company authorized by the bank” (which wasn’t true).

    At geo forward I actually spoke with the main engineer who signs off on these reports. I got real technical info in a free consultation. Authorization and payment was so easy for my clients, and the report came back even faster than expected. The bank approved the report and our loan.

    Thanks again guys!

    • Azad A. Kaligi, PG Post author

      Yes there are. Most consultants offer a “fast turnaround time.” This is usually about 5-business-days. Usually, local environmental regulatory agencies are not able to respond to file requests in such short notice. We generally don’t recommend rush Phase 1 Environmental Reports. The missing files are considered data gaps to the ASTM, EPA, CERCLA and AAI standards.

      The shortest time-frame we recommend for a Phase I ESA is 10-business days.

    • Azad A. Kaligi, PG Post author

      Mr. Bacette,

      Although rush reports can be done, we always advise against them because government agencies tend not to respond to file review requests in such short time frames. As a result of missing agency files, the environmental report would have “data gaps” and not meet ASTM standards.

      A standard turnaround time is generally advised to assure that ASTM and AIA requirements are accomplished in your Phase 1 ESA.

      Feel free to call us anytime for more information.

      Azad A. Kaligi, PG
      (888) 930-6604