USH 12 Middleton Bypass | Middleton, WI

Environmental Testing Can Help Prevent Costly Surprises

Brian Hegge, PH | with 0 Comments

Environmental Testing Can Help Prevent Costly Surprises

What happens when a property or building owner wants to sell an abandoned building to a municipality for a mere $1? Taxpayers may be clamoring for its acquisition so a waiting developer can transform or demolish it and replace the structure with another facility. But before public officials accept the deal for a building or property, they need to investigate environmental issues to determine whether liabilities exist.

Obvious environmental liabilities include previous spills of petroleum or hazardous substances on the property. But what about potential liabilities from asbestos-containing building materials, lead-based paint, radon gas or that closed gasoline service station down the road? These are just a few of the liabilities that could lead to unforeseen expenses to develop the property.

ESAs identify potential liabilities
A Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is generally considered the first step in the process of environmental due diligence. An ESA reveals potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities or recognized environmental conditions (RECs) related to a piece of real estate. If a Phase 1 ESA provides evidence of an environmental contamination liability, environmental specialists may recommend that the property owner, developer or municipality conduct a Phase 2 ESA. Environmental testing can help prevent costly surprises. The purpose of a Phase 2 ESA is to collect soil, air, groundwater and/or building materials for analysis to determine if contaminants are present. Air testing may also be needed if there are concerns about vapors from sub-surface contamination migrating into a building and causing health concerns.
Asbestos increases demolition costs
Demolition and adaptive reuse each have their own environmental challenges. One of the most common environmental concerns is the presence of asbestos. For any commercial renovation or demolition, the owner must comply with asbestos regulations. Asbestos inspection and removal could considerably increase the cost of demolition. Environmental issues are not limited to older structures. Lead-based paint is still available for commercial use and asbestos can be found in products such as flooring, caulks, drywall mud and sheet rock.

For more information
Environmental assessments can help a potential developer, landowner or municipality identify unknown property or building conditions. These assessments can then help guide the development of the property and eliminate costly surprises. For more information about environmental liabilities, contact Brian Hegge.

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