Environmental Consulting – Commercial Property Environmental Site Assessments
Environmental issues can get very complicated. When checking for environmental problems, especially on commercial properties, many real estate attorneys advise their clients to have what is called a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment conducted. During a Phase I Environmental Assessment, an environmental professional will do a property search and often visit the site to check for environmental problems.
During the property search, the environmental professional will review what are called Sanborn maps. These maps are really just historical plat maps that show many of the previous owners and uses of the property. They are dated by year and can be found at the courthouse or public library. If you are reviewing a property and find potential signs of environmental contamination, or suspect the area was once used for something that could have caused environmental contamination, you should probably consult with an expert or avoid the property.
During a Phase I Environmental Assessment, environmental professionals review topographic maps, county maps, and geologic maps, as well as call state professionals familiar with the area, to learn about area groundwater, soil conditions and any nearby contaminated sites. As part of their assessment, they scan for many of the same things discussed above to determine if there is any reason to suspect the property has current environmental contamination or could become contaminated in the future.
After doing the Phase I Environmental Assessment, a report is prepared. If potential environmental problems are found, the buyer either walks away from the real estate deal or he/she may ask the owner of the property to perform a Phase II Environmental Assessment. During a Phase II Environmental Assessment, samples of soil and possibly groundwater from the site are often collected and the samples are sent to a laboratory to determine if environmental contaminants above regulatory levels are present on the property. Working as an environmental professional for over 15 years, I have personally done many Phase I and II investigations. In most cases, I have found that common sense prevails during these investigations. Always remember the following:
If you would not want to live in or near the property for any reason, do not buy it or bid on it. Look on topographic maps and county maps for nearby undesirable neighbors like landfills or waste sites. Drive by the property to see what the neighbors look like. Any nearby commercial or government properties should be scrutinized carefully. Look for obvious signs of contamination on or near the property using the above guidelines.
Flooding is a very common environmental problem that can impair or, in some cases, ruin a real estate investment. In most situations, the government does not allow builders to construct homes in any areas that have been designated a flood plain. However, even these areas are chosen based on educated guesses of how large an area will flood every 50 to 100 years, so if a real deluge occurs, all bets can be off. To find evidence of flooding, look for dark staining on structures that appears to end at the same place. Also, look for debris on small trees, again hanging at roughly the same elevation across an area. Find soils that appear cracked and dry, like they have been through many wet and dry cycles. You can also look at topographic maps and find areas where the contour lines are lower in elevation than anywhere else. These maps may also show dotted areas that are wet during periods of the year.
When the ground settles after a structure has been built on it, the structure may fail. Repair of settlement problems can be very expensive. Severely cracked basements and foundations are often easy to spot. Look for concrete structures that are cracked or not level. Clay soils settle a lot more than sand or rock.
Earthquake zones, steep cliffs or strongly sloping property, heavy rail traffic, unfavorable soil conditions and polluted groundwater represent situations that may be unique to certain areas. This is why it is very important that you have some understanding of the area before you invest.
For every organization to be sure of how safe its premises are for its staff, conducting an asbestos survey is important. Undertaking an asbestos survey for your establishment involves evaluating the amount of asbestos you have on the whole, irrespective of the quantity.
Once a professional establishes this level, you will be instructed on the means to take care of it. There are several consultancy places you can approach to help you with this assessment as well as with the results.
There are several kinds of surveys that can be undertaken. The most important of them is the Management Asbestos Survey. Here, the complete organization as well as all its surroundings is taken into account.
In this survey, the managerial level of the company including the owner, the manager and the duty in-charge are kept informed on all that is going on. It is the duty of the one conducting the survey to keep all parties informed.
The main aim of this survey is to ensure that everyone is kept safe from the ill effects of asbestos. The results of the survey are made known as soon as it is conducted. Based on the extent of asbestos present, a detailed process on how it should be tackled is put forth. Once this is done, there are periodic checks that take place to ensure there is no recurrence or additional disintegration
During the asbestos survey, even regular materials that have a content of asbestos are taken into consideration. It is necessary for the surveyor to look into the extent of the deterioration if there has been any so far.
As the management of an organization, you should understand that these surveys cannot be conducted during regular working hours. They have to be done on weekends on when the staff is at the minimum.
When the asbestos is of bad quality, what it does is release particles as well as fibers into nearby areas as this leads to a number of people being affected by it. Regular exposure to asbestos can lead to poisoning even specific types of cancers. The organization that does the survey for you will be able to chart out a means of treatment as well.
The main idea behind any asbestos survey is to understand the extent of it and prevent people from being exposed. Keeping regular checks on it will ensure that there is no further deterioration and the danger is kept at bay.
Environmental consulting is very often a type of compliance consulting. This basically means that environmental consultants work toward making sure that a person or company adheres to a predetermined and acceptable level of compliance with existing environmental regulations.
There are a number of different types of consultants but two of the main groups are those that approach the issue from an industrial perspective and those that approach it from an environmentalist perspective.
They wear many different hats and can provide construction services such as assessing the hazards caused by asbestos or lead, as well as providing diligence reports for clients to help them around possible sanctions that might result. Some of them cover an array of areas pertaining to environmental consultancy including waste management.
Very often environmental consultants can find themselves in difficult to deal with situations pertaining to a wide array of different environmental issues. For example environmental consulting regarding chemical clean-ups, development issues, endangered species issues, mining projects, recycling, wildlife habitats, and so on can and often at times does result in difficulties for the consultant concerned due in large part to the financial implications that might be relevant.
These individuals are highly trained experts who are hired as advisors regarding various environmental concerns and issues. In the past they were usually only involved with issues that centred on repairing or undoing damage that had already been caused but nowadays environmental consulting also encompasses new projects that are still in the planning stages. This means that prior to a particular construction project getting under way those running the project will hire the consultants so as to safeguard their plans and ensure there will be no issues of an environmental nature upon commencement or completion of the construction.
Usually the law requires that environmental studies be conducted. Those involved in construction for example fully understand that the services of the environmental consultants are necessary if they wish to ensure that there will be no problems arising further on down the line for themselves, their investors, the local wildlife, or the residents in the area they are working in. The studies that are required may not indicate these issues that might arise in the future and so hiring the professionals is a way to safeguard themselves against future problems.
The following are some of the basic issues that Environmental Consultants would work toward detecting and resolving whether soil erosion might occur through the wanton destruction or removal of vegetation, water-logging that might occur if construction is carried out near wetlands, risks pertaining to aquifer, natural drainage, and water courses, and problems such as subsidence that might result through the removal of trees in the area.
The lives of a single family as well as the lives of an entire community can literally lie in the hands of the environmental constant and therefore this is certainly not a career choice to be considered lightly. Unfortunately greed and corruption are part of the world we live in and sadly some are not as reputable as others which mean that not only the environment can suffer long-term or permanent damage but lives can be endangered as well.
An environmental consultant wears quite a few hats. Environmental consultants, who are usually involved with most government programs and major industries, and often with relatively smaller projects, are responsible for environmental management, problem solving, analysis, and the storage of crucial data.
They often come face-to-face with very challenging and difficult to deal with environmental issues.
For example, a consultant is often involved with chemical cleanups, development issues, emissions issues, endangered species issues, industrial site rehabilitation, mining projects, recycling, storm water runoff, waste management and landfills, and wildlife habitats.
An environmental consultant is hired as an expert advisor and bills his or her clients on an hourly basis.
Historically environmental consultants were primarily involved in situations that involved undoing past damages or remediation. However, they have now become instrumentally involved with new projects.
For example, before beginning construction, the entities in charge of major residential developments will often make environmental safeguards an integral part of their management plans.
Although environmental studies are usually required by law, people in the construction industry know that just having environmental studies conducted is considered to be a wise practice. That’s because the initial environmental site analysis may find issues that could evolve into major problems for them, the local wildlife, or the future residents of the project they are working on.
Most people know that large amounts of water can destroy a foundation. But did you know that the harmless looking maidenhair fern means that there’s a lot of water around? You might not know that, but a consultant whose focus is the environment does.
Aside from potentially destroying the foundations of buildings about to be constructed, the water that the construction site is on might actually be a source that feeds the local water supply.
Without this knowledge the developer might install sewage pipes and drains that could contaminate the local water supply system. If that were to happen, aside from the potentially serious health consequences, fixing this mistake could take many millions of dollars.
Here are some additional issues an environmental consultant might find:
• Soil erosion that was or could be caused by removing vegetation
• Water-logging which would be the result of building near a wetland
• Site risks that are related to aquifers, natural drainage, and water courses
• Subsidence that could be caused by removing trees
An environmental consultant usually works during regular business hours. However, their job could involve a lot of extra time and it could include a considerable amount of site work and analysis.
Environmental consulting is done in order for you to assess many different aspects of your house or building. It can be used to assess energy consumption or determine if a building is in line with a state’s environmental regulations. Also, these services can help make a business or a home more efficient and reduce monthly electric and water bills.
As there have been more and more environmentally aware people in the past few years, there also has been an increase in the popularity of environmental consulting. In return, there have been more and more “green” consulting firms. A firm of this nature can figure out ways a business can become more eco-friendly and effective. This can often correspond with cheaper and less wasteful methods of management and employment of resources.
One of the things that these firms can do is to save energy consumption. They can find areas where heat and energy and wasted and make suggestions how those areas can be improved. As you can see from this example, their services allow for a more efficient functioning of a structure.
Such a company can also help a business or a home reduce expenses. It can help improve waste disposal and recommend alternative sources of energy. There are some that specialize in solar installation and weatherization. There are also some that can help you reduce water consumption. This leads to cheaper electric and water bills – allowing you to save money.
It can also help minimize risks. Flood risks and other ecological hazards can be reviewed by a consulting firm. See, there are some materials used in construction that has a certain amount of carbon and radon, as well as other elements which may prove to be dangerous if left mismanaged. Sometimes the unprofessional removal of these substances can actually make matters worse, which is another reason to rely professional assistance with making a structure safe again.These firms will help you manage such elements and provide a safer workplace or home to stay in.
So, contact an environmental consulting firm now and see what they can do for you. There are lots of services they can provide aside from the ones mentioned above. Actually, the industry has been growing steadily as business owners see it as a smart and profitable investment. Not only will they help you become more eco-friendly, they’ll also help you save money along the way.
Some Important Things to Know about Environmental Consulting
Environmental consultants are types of compliance consultants. An environmental consultant ensures that his or her client adequately complies with the apropos environmental regulations.
There are a lot of different kinds of environmental consultants, but the two primary groups are those who get into the field from the environmentalist side of the spectrum and those who become consultants from the industry side of the spectrum.
No matter which side of the equation they represent, they have been achieving rather remarkable market penetration in all government programs as well as major industries. And many assume multiple roles. The often act as analysts as well as problem solvers vis-à-vis environmental management.
On a commercial basis, an environmental consultant is employed as an expert adviser who must deal with such extremely challenging issues as:
• Chemical cleanups
• Water contamination
• Emissions issues
• Industrial site rehabilitation
• Waste management
• Storm water runoff
• Mining projects
• Endangered species
• Wildlife habitats
• Development issues
Most of the public’s conception of what environmental consultancies do is based on situations such as undoing the damage from the past and remediation. However, being in compliance has become a fundamental consideration of virtually every proposed land related project.
In most cases related studies will be mandated by law. However, even if they are not required it’s now recognized that conducting them is a wise practice within the construction industry. That’s because such analysis can identify a lot of issues that could become rather large problems for the residents, the developers, and the local wildlife – before they happen.
So, if a major residential development is being planned, the developers will need to adopt some sort of management plan that puts environmental safeguards in place prior to the beginning of construction.
Environmental consultants generally work during regular business hours. However, a lot of analysis and site work is often required in order for them to adequately perform their jobs. Such research and analysis could make it necessary for them to work a considerable amount of extra hours.
In addition, they will have to work within the confines of the various contract schedules that are part and parcel of the project.
Their salaries will vary. It will depend on a number of factors including their specialty, the nature of their contract or their employment, as well as the nature of their work and the responsibilities that are entailed.
Their specialties could include areas such as geology, hydrology, zoology, and other advanced areas of natural science. Their career tracks can be rather complex. However, in this area, environmental consultants are often highly motivated senior scientists.
Anyone in the business may need an environmental consultant. Recently it has come to the news that a group of advocates has filed a federal lawsuit against a well-known company because the emissions from their refinery complex released tons of air pollutants. Finding a good consultant is not an easy task. There are quite a few ways to determine that consultant is dependable. The task of selecting a good consultant can be pretty cumbersome if one is completely unaware of the field itself. There are some basic criteria that need to be fulfilled in order to find an environmental consultant of suitability. An environment consultant can be needed for a business for various purposes, such as that of assessment of health, safety and environmental contamination even when buying a piece of land for your business. Here are some pointers that can help to select a good environmental consultant:
Classification: Before setting out to look for a good consultant one should determine the purpose of needing an environment consultant. This will help to shortlist from the choices primarily.
* Location: It is always best to choose a consultant from your own state because that ensures that the consultant is familiar with the environmental laws of the state. Making a location based searches can help to get a reliable environmental consultant.
* Contact and ask: Another easy way of selection is to contact the service providers shortlisted and talk to them about your project and ask how much assistance they can provide. This will help you get a fair idea of how things each firm works.
* Check on the experience: Before hiring an environmental consulting firm, make sure to ask them enquire about the experience the consultants working on your project would be having. If possible ask for a copy of the resume of the environmental consultant.
* Evaluate the cost proposal: Costing of a project is one criterion that cannot be overlooked. While contacting the consulting firms get average cost quotations so that you can compare and select the one that is most suitable to both the purpose and the wallet.
Asbestos was the universal component to make products back in the day. It was used like plastic is used today. Many items used asbestos for heat absorption and insulation.
An ironing board would be lined with asbestos for heat dispersion, and the electric iron also used would have asbestos in the wiring for insulation. Walls and ceilings would use asbestos to keep rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Also, glue holding down the linoleum floors would have asbestos. This should give you an idea of the massive scope of the current problem.
Asbestos was the universal component to make products back in the day. It was used like plastic is used today. Many items used asbestos for heat absorption and insulation.
An ironing board would be lined with asbestos for heat dispersion, and the electric iron also used would have asbestos in the wiring for insulation. Walls and ceilings would use asbestos to keep rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Also, glue holding down the linoleum floors would have asbestos.
This should give you an idea of the massive scope of the current problem.
It was later learned that asbestos in certain forms would be toxic and the intensity would increase drastically if exposed over time. For example, asbestos can be fine particles in the air that a person could breathe the particles in, but the particles may be difficult to breathe out once in the body. Other forms of asbestos could be in heat resistant clothing.
An Asbestos Inspector is familiar with the products that asbestos was used in to produce and can test surfaces for asbestos. Multiple samples may be required for testing each surface area to identify if asbestos is present. Once the areas have been identified, the Asbestos Inspector will determine if the material should come out immediately due to safety concerns, or whether the area must be monitored to ensure the asbestos is not disturbed in a way that would cause the area to be hazardous.
The removal process must be done within certain guidelines to maintain a safe environment. Special bags must be used to hold the material, special transportation must be arranged, and taken to an area that has been specifically prepared for asbestos materials. The different arrangements take time to setup and must be overseen by a professional.
The massive scope of materials that contain asbestos make the job of removing it a daunting process. The universal usage and cheap cost made asbestos a highly attractive substance to use, but the hazardous nature completely outweighs any benefits that might be gained. Serious illness that increases in severity as exposure increases have been documented in numerous studies.
Contact a local Asbestos Inspector in your area to determine if asbestos is present in one of its many forms in your work environment. It is especially important to have areas tested for asbestos during construction projects as each new surface could have the hazardous material.
An environmental consultant helps industrial plants and facilities avoid citations with the EPA, OSHA, and Department of Environmental Quality or DEQ. Having environmental audits performed regularly help determine what types of environmental permits might be needed to stay compliant with EPA regulations.
Another part of an Environmental Consultant’s job is helping to determine if land that was once used for industrial purposes are safe to be re-zoned for commercial or residential use. Before the property can be re-zoned an environmental team must decide if the land can be cleaned so that it is not harmful to live, work, or conduct business on.
OSHA is often the first governmental agency Facility Directors are concerned about coming to perform an inspection. They sometimes forget about the EPA. The Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) is there to ensure that as people continue to use landfills and produce potentially harmful waste that the environment is still protected.
Consultants help ensure that in every aspect of owning and running a manufacturing company all necessary and required permits by the EPA are acquired, they also help to facilitate training on the different permits. There are many different types of permits that a facility might be required to have, and one of the best ways to know is to hire a consultant. Air permits, waste water permits, and several operating permits are just a few and most permits are based on the businesses SIC code.
The EPA’s main concern is how industry affects the earth and as a result effects the population that inhabits the earth. The EPA wants plants and facilities to be aware of the effects, both negative and positive that their business has on the environment. The EPA created a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan for manufacturing companies that store certain items outside in the open elements. This plan helps to inform local city officials what chemical waste, both hazardous and not, is in the storm water runoff. This also helps to prevent contaminating run off streams that lead into larger water supply areas, such as a city’s main water source.
Different industries need different permits and the only way to know for certain which permits are required is to contact a local Environmental Consultant. The consultant can perform an audit of any plant or facility and devise a plan to obtain all necessary permits.