During a property purchase and beyond, an environmental consultant is an invaluable resource for identifying, understanding, and managing the physical condition of your real estate. If you’re in the market for new commercial property or considering selling off an existing asset, you’ll likely have to work with an environmental consultant to complete an environmental site assessment.
To find a consultant, you don’t have to rely on an outdated business directory or your local chamber of commerce. In fact, you’ll have better luck selecting a firm by calling them to discuss your unique situation. After asking these questions, you’ll know if a consultant is a perfect fit.
How long will it take to complete the work?
Sometimes you’ll be in a crunch to get a site assessment completed, especially if the process is required by a lending institution. So before you schedule a call with an environmental consultant, make sure to ask how long it will take to complete the work.
Rules of thumb
- It usually takes about two to three weeks to complete a Phase I ESA.
- It usually takes about four weeks to complete a Phase II ESA.
How many years have you been in business?
It’s worth taking into consideration how long the consultant you’re speaking with has been in business. How long a company has been running doesn’t always correlate to the quality of work they deliver, but it is a measure of credibility.
Have you worked with organizations like ours before?
Things like communication style, expectations, and company culture are all unique to your organization. As such, try to choose an environmental consultant that has worked with businesses like yours. That way, you won’t have to waste time and energy on project alignment. Instead, the consultant can get right to work and you can focus on your responsibilities.
Will the work be conducted in accordance with ASTM and AAI Standards?
A site assessment completed outside regulatory requirements or best practices isn’t worth paying for. So don’t hesitate to ask consultants if they follow ASTM and AAI standards.
- ASTM Standards — ASTM E1527-13 is the current set of standard practices for completing Phase I Environmental Site Assessments.
- All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) Rule — The EPA definition of AAI is “a process of evaluating a property’s environmental conditions and assessing potential liability for any contamination.”
Do you have any references?
Selecting an environmental consultant is similar to hiring someone for your own company, especially when it comes to references. Request information about other (preferably similar) businesses the firm has worked with, and don’t be afraid to reach out to the references to ask questions.
Do you have experience working with the pollutant I’m worried about?
If you know about potential contamination on your property, you’re already one step ahead. Use that knowledge and ask if the consultant has experience making professional recommendations about existing contaminants.
What are the project lead’s credentials?
Not just anyone off the street can conduct site assessments, so you want to ensure your project lead has the proper credentials.
The bottom line is this: a Phase I must be conducted by an environmental professional (EP) for it to qualify for Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) liability protection.
Things get a bit tricky here since there’s no official EP certification. If someone has the right licensing, experience, education, or a combination of all three, they’re considered an EP.
An EP must have one or more of the following:
- A current Professional Engineer (P.E.) License
- A current Professional Geologist (P.G.) License
- Other current license or certification from a state, tribe, U.S. territory, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to perform environmental site assessments or all appropriate inquiries as defined in the final rule
- A Baccalaureate or higher degree in engineering or science with five years of relevant, full-time experience
- Ten years of relevant, full-time experience
TriMedia’s team of environmental professionals are ready to help with your site assessments. Schedule time to speak with one of our consultants today.