COVID-19 and the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment

Aug 03, 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic has left environmental consultants struggling to conduct Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) in the current restrictive environment. We at BLDI Environmental Engineering have worked from day one to navigate these newfound challenges; maintaining the safety of our staff and clients while providing a complete, ASTM-compliant Phase I ESA.

As you may know, Michigan, along with a number of states instituted stay-at-home orders prohibiting all but “essential activities” for several weeks beginning in March 2020. During this time, BLDI ceased all in-person work, including site visits and field events. We were still able to assist our clients by providing our Environmental RiskScan® RSRA report which provides clients with an environmental “snapshot” of the property, resulting in the identification of a risk rating based on a desktop review of various information without the need of a physical site visit. If the decision is made to later proceed with a full Phase I ESA after receiving the results of your Environmental RiskScan® RSRA, BLDI will apply the cost toward the Phase I ESA.

On May 7, 2020, Governor Witmer signed an executive order to allow construction and real estate activities to resume, subject to stringent precautionary measures. Falling under this umbrella, BLDI resumed our site visits and other field activities following strict protocols to ensure the safety of BLDI staff and clients. Below are some of the modifications we have enacted:

Site visit modifications:

  • BLDI staff will conduct a daily health screening per CDC guidance prior to completing a site visit or field event
  • BLDI staff will always utilize a face mask and maintain social distancing per CDC guidelines
  • Completion of questionnaires (e.g. Phase I ESA Owner Questionnaire) are requested to be completed by the client and sent to BLDI staffer prior to the visit
  • Site visits may not include the interior of the building depending on the type/use of property (e.g. multi-tenant; housing for high-risk populations; medical centers)

Report content modifications:

  • Due to extended FOIA fulfillment timeframes at the state and local level, governmental records (including ELGE files, health department, assessing department, building department, and utility (natural gas)) may not be available within the timeframe for completing the Phase I ESA.
  • All of these modifications will be identified within the Phase I ESA report as necessary, and discussion regarding their significance on the identification or non-identification of a Recognized Environmental Condition (REC) will be included.

Please contact Nichole Mason, EP ( or Marty Janowiak ( with any questions, or call our office at (616) 459-3737.