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NEW Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Standard Approved: Key Changes

Posted on November 09, 2021

ASTM International has approved and is about to publish the highly anticipated Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) Process (E1527). The updated standard, known as E1527-21, is based on lessons learned shared by practicing environmental professionals and users of the standard, as well as a review of recent litigation and claims arising from Phase I Environmental Site Assessment disputes. Some of the key changes include:

  • Clarifications to Key Terms including Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs), Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition (CREC), and Historical Recognized Environmental Condition (HREC), to ensure consistent use in accordance with “good commercial and customary practice.”
  • New Definitions or New Terms including “likely,” “Significant data gap,” and “Property Use Limitation.” Property Use Limitation was specially added to replace “property use restrictions” to aid in the proper classification of RECs vs. CRECs vs. HRECs.
  • Expanded Procedures for historical research and interviews, prior uses of the Subject Property and concerning adjoining properties, and the area surrounding the Subject Property.
  • Increased Reporting Expectations to include more detailed discussion of the logic for each REC, CREC, and HREC determination; data gap identification; and conclusions. Additionally, requirements for site maps and photographs have been added.
  • Finally, the appendices have been updated with guidance, including a flow chart designed to provide clarification of the REC vs. CREC vs. HREC identification process.

While ASTM International has approved E1527-21 as the current standard and demoted E1527-13 to historical standard status, it may take the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) up to a year to update the All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) rule to reference E1527-21 as compliant with AAI. However, given that the updated rule clarifies and expands the E1527-13 standard, Phase I ESAs completed using the E1527-21 clarifications—new or revised definitions and expanded procedure—should also be compliant with the AAI rule.

Roux performs environmental due diligence, including Phase I ESAs supporting real estate transactions and evaluations across the country. Our experts maintain a thorough understanding of the ASTM standards and updates. If you have questions regarding due diligence or inquiries on how these changes could affect you, please reach out to us using the form below.

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