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A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is a review of past and current uses of a property and adjoining properties to determine if there is evidence of “recognized environmental conditions” for which the property owner may be held liable under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and equivalent state laws. These may include issues of soil or groundwater contamination.

The Phase I ESA is an important component of the due diligence process for a real estate transaction. The Phase I ESA may be requested by the buyer, seller, lender or receiver and may be required by a municipal government in relation to right of way dedications or a new subdivision.


The Phase I ESA process includes:

  • Review of historical property usage via aerial photography, city directories, historic maps, interviews, public agency records and other sources as appropriate to determine the uses of a property back to 1940 or its first development.

  • Interviews with the property owner, the user of the Phase I ESA, managers and tenants.

  • Site reconnaissance to observe materials stored, general condition of the property, adjoining property uses, utility installations, and surface water drainage to look for evidence of recognized environmental conditions.

  • Review of published federal, state, and local environmental databases, contact with local agencies and review of public files to determine if sites of known environmental problems have adversely affected the property.

  • Results are presented in a report including narrative descriptions, conclusions and recommendations with color exhibits such as photographs, a site plan and other maps. The report is delivered by e-mail as a digital file with hard copies available upon request.


Vann Engineering, Inc. Phase I ESAs are prepared in conformance with the scope and limitations of American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Practice E 1527, which incorporates the requirements of the EPA “All Appropriate Inquiry” rule described at section 312.10 of 40 CFR 312. Our reports are signed and sealed by Environmental Professionals as defined at 40 CFR 312. Our Phase I ESA format may be customized to address non-scope issues as required by various lending institutions or governmental agencies.


When evidence of recognized environmental conditions is encountered, we may recommend a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment. The Phase II ESA is a follow-up investigation including a scope of work dependent upon the specific recognized environmental conditions. The Phase II ESA may involve sampling and laboratory testing of soil, water, stored materials, wastes or construction materials. For example, suppose our research discovers there has been an underground storage tank on the property and removal was not properly documented.

We would recommend a Phase II ESA to verify the presence or absence of soil contamination and to determine its lateral and vertical extent, in conformance with state and federal requirements. The Phase II ESA would involve collection of soil samples from test borings at and near the former underground storage tank basin and their laboratory analysis of said samples for aromatic compounds and other fuel components.

As a second example, schools and other sensitive proposed uses may require soil sampling and testing for persistent pesticides and herbicides for property with prior history of agricultural use.

In cases where a Phase II ESA testing returns positive evidence of contamination, we may make recommendations for a Phase III remediation project.



The Transaction Screen Process (TSP) is a simplified, low-cost environmental investigation suitable for due diligence on undeveloped or minimally developed properties where a narrative report is not desired. The TSP investigation includes:

  • Completion of the ASTM E 1528 Transaction Screen Questionnaire. The questions are answered by the property owner, the occupants (if applicable), and from observations made during a site reconnaissance by our environmental professionals

  • Photographs of the property

  • Review of published regulatory agency lists and databases for the property and properties within the ASTM-specified approximate minimum search distances


Concerns regarding intrusion of chemical vapors into buildings on a property, known as a “vapor encroachment condition,” are addressed by the ASTM E 2600 Guide for Vapor Encroachment Screening on Property Involved in Real Estate Transactions. A Tier 1 Vapor Encroachment Screen is included as a standard feature in our Phase I ESAs. Information regarding potential soil vapors gathered during our Phase I ESA research is reviewed and presented within the report. In the rare cases where further investigation is warranted, a recommendation for a Tier 2 Vapor Encroachment Screen, indoor air quality testing or vapor mitigation measures may be presented.


Vann Engineering, Inc. offers a range of Asbestos Inspections which conform with federal, state, and county regulations, which can be tailored to meet project requirements. Our personnel are certified as AHERA Building Inspectors and AHERA Management Planners.

Depending on the nature of the project, asbestos inspections may include:

  • NESHAP Building Inspections: The National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) is the portion of the federal Clean Air Act that regulates safe disposal of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) in commercial buildings and multifamily housing. A NESHAP Building Inspection by an AHERA Building Inspector is required as part of the permit application for complete demolition of a building or removal of materials in connection with a building renovation. A notification to the County NESHAP Coordinator is required where ACM will be removed and a courtesy notification is often included in the demolition permit application where materials have been found to be non-ACM.

  • OSHA Asbestos Inspections: The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates worker exposure to asbestos and other hazards. OSHA standards call for asbestos inspections to be performed by AHERA Building Inspectors.

  • Limited Asbestos Surveys: We offer a variety of Limited Asbestos Surveys tailored to the needs of the building owner and operators. A Limited Asbestos Survey may be performed as an extension of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment.

  • Asbestos Management Plans: When asbestos has been found in a building, it must be managed safely until it is removed, or the building is demolished. Our AHERA Management Planners can help with the preparation of suitable Asbestos Management Plan, including an Observation and Maintenance (O&M) Program, to ensure safe asbestos management. K-12 schools are required to have an asbestos management plan available for public inspection.



Radon is an odorless radioactive gas that can enter a building from the underlying soil, rock and groundwater. Exposure to radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. EPA requires mitigation if indoor air concentrations of radon exceed 4.0 picocuries per liter. Short-term indoor air radon testing is required as part of due diligence for HUD and other mortgage financing programs for public housing in counties ranked as Zone 1 or Zone 2 on EPA’s Map of Radon Zones.

Vann Engineering, Inc. personnel are certified as Residential Radon Measurement Providers under the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists’ National Radon Proficiency Program (AARST-NRPP).


Lead-based paints were used extensively in residential buildings until banned in 1978. For buildings built before that time, a lead-based paint survey may be needed to determine if persons in the building are exposed to lead from paints. Vann Engineering, Inc. personnel are EPA certified as Lead Risk Assessors under the Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 402 (40 CFR Part 745.226).



In addition to the services described in detail above, Vann Engineering, Inc. assists our clients with investigations and document preparation for:

  • National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) compliance for telecommunications sites and other construction projects under federal jurisdiction

  • Update letters for recent Phase I ESAs

  • Drywell registration

  • Drywell investigations

  • Drinking water testing for lead and other contaminants

  • Soil sampling and analysis (usually part of a Phase II ESA)

  • Groundwater sampling and analysis

  • Remedial Investigations

  • Underground Storage Tank (UST) closure investigations

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