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Significance and Use
4.1 Uses—This practice sets forth a procedure for conducting limited environmental due diligence . This practice is intended for use on a voluntary basis by parties who wish to assess the environmental condition of commercial real estate where a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is, initially, deemed to be unnecessary by the user and the parties do not seek CERCLA LLPs . This practice is intended primarily as a commercially prudent or reasonable approach to conducting an inquiry designed to identify potential environmental concerns in connection with a property.
4.2 Clarifications on Use:
4.2.1 Use Not Intended for CERCLA Liability Protection—This document is not intended to permit a user to satisfy CERCLA LLPs, that is, the practices that constitute “all appropriate inquiries into the previous ownership and uses of the property consistent with good commercial or customary practice” as defined in 42 U.S.C. §9601(35)(B).
4.2.2 Transaction Screen Does Not Identify Recognized Environmental Conditions—This practice does not define a scope of assessment sufficient to identify recognized environmental conditions as defined in 3.2.74 of Practice E1527 and 3.2.80 of Practice E2247.
4.2.3 Residential Tenants/Purchasers and Others—Although this document is not intended for residential purposes, it may be used at the user’s discretion for residential tenants of multifamily residential buildings, tenants of single-family homes or other residential real estate, or purchasers of dwellings for residential use, to conduct a transaction screen in connection with these transactions.
4.2.4 Site-Specific—This practice is site-specific in that it relates to assessment of environmental conditions on a specific parcel of commercial real estate. Consequently, this practice does not address many additional issues raised in transactions such as purchases of business entities, or interests therein, or of their assets, that may well involve environmental liabilities pertaining to properties previously owned or operated or other off-site environmental liabilities.
4.3 Who May Conduct—The transaction screen process may be conducted by the user, or some other person, including environmental consultants, lenders, brokers, appraisers, corporations, lawyers, government agencies or any other party looking to screen environmental property risk. The transaction screen process can be performed by, but does not require the judgment of an environmental professional . If an environmental professional is contracted to prepare a transaction screen questionnaire, nothing in this practice requires the professional to develop opinions and conclusions. Nothing in this practice precludes a user from contracting with any person identified herein for mutually agreed upon additional services.
4.4 Inquiry Beyond the Transaction Screen Process—If further inquiry is needed after performance of the transaction screen process, the user must determine, in the exercise of the user’s reasonable business judgment, whether further inquiry may be limited to those specific issues identified as of concern or should proceed to further inquiry (see 5.8).
4.5 No transaction screen can wholly eliminate uncertainty regarding the potential for environmental concern in connection with a property.
4.5.1 Not every property will warrant the use of a limited environmental assessment such as the transaction screen. The appropriate use of the transaction screen will be guided by the type of property subject to assessment, the expertise and risk tolerance of the user , and the information developed in the course of the inquiry.
4.5.2 Transaction screens must be evaluated based on the reasonableness of judgments made at the time and under the circumstances in which they were made. Subsequent environmental site assessments or transaction screens should not be considered valid standards to judge the appropriateness of any prior assessment based on hindsight, new information, use of developing technology or analytical techniques, or other factors.
4.6 Continued Viability of Transaction Screen—A transaction screen meeting or exceeding this practice and completed more than 180 days previously may be used to the extent allowed by 4.6.1 and 4.6.2.
4.6.1 Subject to 4.6.2, a prior transaction screen or other due diligence may be used in its entirety or as an information source if, in the reasonable judgment of the user, the prior transaction screen or other due diligence meets or exceeds the requirements of this practice and the conditions at the property likely to affect potential environmental concerns in connection with the property are not likely to have changed materially since the last transaction screen or other due diligence was conducted. In making this judgment, the user should consider the type of property assessed and the conditions in the area surrounding the property.
4.6.2 If the user, or any other preparer(s) conducting a transaction screen has actual knowledge that the information being used from a prior transaction screen is not accurate or if it is obvious, based on other information obtained by means of the transaction screen or known to the person conducting the transaction screen, that the information being used is not accurate, such information from a prior transaction screen may not be used.
4.7 The contractual and legal obligations between prior and subsequent users of transaction screens or between those who conducted prior transaction screens and those who would like to use such prior transaction screens are beyond the scope of this practice.
4.7.1 The contractual and legal obligations between a preparer and a user (and other parties, if any) are beyond the scope of this practice.
4.8 If the user is aware of any specialized knowledge or experience that is material to potential environmental concerns in connection with the property, and the preparer is not the user, it is the user’s responsibility to communicate any information based on such specialized knowledge or experience to the preparer. The user should do so before the preparer makes the site visit.
1.1 Purpose—The purpose of this practice is to define a good practice in the United States of America for conducting a transaction screen2 for a parcel of commercial real estate where the user wishes to conduct limited environmental due diligence (that is, less than a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment). If the driving force behind the environmental due diligence is a desire to qualify for one of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Landowner Liability Protections (LLPs), this practice should not be applied. Instead, the ASTM E1527: Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process or ASTM E2247: Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property may be used.
1.1.1 This practice will not satisfy the requirement to conduct all appropriate inquiries into the previous ownership and uses of the property consistent with “generally accepted good commercial and customary standards and practices” as defined in 42 U.S.C. §9601(35)(B) to qualify for one of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Landowner Liability Protections (LLPs). Users who desire to conduct environmental due diligence to qualify for one of the CERCLA LLPs should conduct assessment activities in conformity with “Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries,” 40 C.F.R. Part 312, ASTM E1527: Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process or ASTM E2247: Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property.
1.2 An evaluation of business environmental risk associated with a parcel of commercial real estate may necessitate investigation beyond that identified in this practice. See Sections 1.4 and 11.
1.2.1 Potential Environmental Concerns—The goal of conducting a transaction screen is to identify potential environmental concerns, as defined in 3.2.35.
1.2.2 Other Federal, State, and Local Environmental Laws—This practice does not address requirements of any state or local laws or of any federal laws. Users are cautioned that federal, state, and local laws may impose environmental assessment obligations that are beyond the scope of this practice. Users should also be aware that there are likely to be other legal obligations with regard to hazardous substances or petroleum products discovered on property that are not addressed in this practice and may pose risks of civil and/or criminal sanctions for non-compliance.
1.3 Objective—The objective guiding the development of this practice is to facilitate standardized transaction screens.
1.3.1 Note of Caution—The user should be cautious in applying this practice to properties with known current or historic handling of hazardous substances or petroleum products .
1.4 Considerations Beyond the Scope—The use of this practice is strictly limited to the scope set forth in this section. Section 11 of this practice identifies, for informational purposes, certain environmental conditions (not an all-inclusive list) that may exist on a property that are beyond the scope of this practice but may warrant consideration by parties to a commercial real estate transaction. The need to include an investigation of any such conditions in the scope of services should be evaluated based upon, among other factors, the nature of the property and the reasons for performing the assessment (for example, a more comprehensive evaluation of business environmental risk) and should be agreed upon as additional services beyond the scope of this practice prior to initiation of the Transaction Screen Process.
1.5 Organization of This Practice—This practice has several parts and one appendix. Section 1 is the Scope. Section 2 refers to other ASTM standards in the Referenced Documents. Section 3, Terminology, has definitions of terms not unique to this practice, descriptions of terms unique to this practice, and acronyms. Section 4 is Significance and Use of this practice. Section 5 is the Introduction to the Transaction Screen Questionnaire. Section 6 sets forth the Transaction Screen Questionnaire itself. Sections 7 – 10 contain the Guide to the Transaction Screen Questionnaire and its various parts. Section 11 provides additional information regarding non-scope considerations. See 1.4.
1.6 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.
2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.
Federal StatutesComprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation as amended by Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA) and Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act of 2002 (Brownfields Amendments), 42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq. Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act 42 U.S.C. 11001 et seq. Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. §552, as amended by Public Law No. 104-231, 110 Stat. 3048 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (sometimes as amended (RCRA), 42 U.S.C 6901 et seq.
E1527 Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process
E2247 Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property
ICS Number Code 13.020.30 (Environmental impact assessment)
UNSPSC Code 77101500(Environmental impact assessment)
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ASTM E1528-14, Standard Practice for Limited Environmental Due Diligence: Transaction Screen Process, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2014, www.astm.orgBack to Top