A new standard for Phase I environmental reports is in the works and will require more work for environmental consultants.
The new standard, ASTM E1527-21, which will replace the existing ASTM E1527-13, affects about 250,000 commercial real estate transactions a year. It will, among other things, mandate more in-depth historical reviews at many locations, including a requirement to examine the history of adjoining properties.
One of the drivers for these changes is to determine potential health risks represented by dry cleaning businesses. Contamination from these businesses is the leading source of environmental liability in commercial real estate transactions.
The new standard also adds PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and other emerging contaminants to the list of “non-scope issues” that a user may want to evaluate as a business risk. This is how asbestos and mold is handled according to the current standard.
The standard for Phase I environmental reports is updated every eight years. It was last revised in 2013.