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What is the difference between an Environmental Transaction Screen (ETS) and a Phase I ESA?

January 30, 2016

What is the difference between an Environmental Transaction Screen (ETS) and a Phase I ESA?

Environmental Transaction Screens (ETS) are a voluntary procedure intended to identify Potential Environmental Concerns (PECs) for commercial real estate. They are meant to be a screening tool for those who wish to conduct limited environmental due diligence, and usually only recommended for low risk property types with available historical information. 

An ETS is sometimes used as an alternative to Phase I Environment Site Assessments (ESA), which are a more extensive method of environmental due diligence. 

An ETS only requires a limited scope of work, which includes a site visit, review of environmental databases, completion of an environmental questionnaire by the owner or occupant and consultant doing the transaction screen, and review of limited historical sources. Historical use must be determined back to 1940 or first development using at least one of the following sources: Sanborn maps, city directories or aerial photographs.

The ETS process may be conducted either by the user or potential user of the property, whereas a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment must be conducted by an environmental professional, as defined by 40 CFR 312.10(b) (Standards for Conducting All Appropriate Inquiries or AAI). PM Environmental’s ETS reports are compliant with the most current ASTM E1528 standard. 

Users who complete transaction screens do not qualify for Landowner Liability Protections (LLPs) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Anyone seeking these protections should complete a Phase I ESA.