It’s still summer, and flu season is a distant memory (or, if you are the type that worries about the future, a sense of impending doom).   And good riddance – nobody likes a misery-laden extended stay on the couch.  However, the Commercial Real Estate industry is in a busy season for property transaction due-diligence environmental investigations, which cause their own laundry list of maladies.  None should be taken lightly, but unfortunately, your general practitioner likely will not  recognize your property transaction-induced ailments.  Your go-to online medical source – doubtful too.   No, for diagnoses and remedies of this sort you will need a specialist – the Environmental Doctor.  So, as a public service, please contact me immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Phase I Environmental Site Assessment induced high blood pressure.  In practice, I typically see many patients whose blood pressure spike during the two week period between authorizing the consultant to proceed with this initial environmental investigation and receipt of results.  You are not alone.  But, take solace in the fact that the vast majority of Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (Phase I  ESA) come back with a clean bill of property health and do not require additional action.   A sphygmomanometer is handy, but remembering that the Phase I ESA is there to protect your interests is handier still.   
  • Environmental pink eye.  Unlike its cousin, environmental pink eye is not viral or bacterial.   Rather, it is caused by lacrimal gland fluid overproduction, otherwise known as uncontrollable sobbing.  Underlying causes include the identification of a recognized environmental condition (REC) during the Phase I ESA process and the receipt of unfavorable laboratory analytical results during the Phase II Environmental Site Assessment. However, all is not lost.  Any environmental consultant worth your time should be able to do more than offer a Kleenex and an encouraging word.   Practical time- and cost- sensitive solutions to remediate any issues can turn that frown upside down and dry up the well (and take you to regulatory closure or the legal process if needed!).
  • Allergic reactions caused by environmental consultants.  It’s true – sometimes environmental consultants are the bearers of bad news during a property transaction.  Hence, many in the transaction process break out in hives or sweat profusely when the environmental consultant enters the scene.  These are common reactions.  But, we are neither pollen nor dog dander so there’s no need to pop Sudafed or stick yourself with an EpiPen in our presence!   Remember, environmental consultants are there to protect business interests by enabling you to make better buying/lending decisions.  Only a Phase I ESA performed in accordance with ASTM and EPA’s All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) standards can protect you from liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Repsonse, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
  • Selective cataracts.  Often, when reading environmental reports, one’s vision will cloud-up when presented with unexpected or unfavorable conclusions.  These are temporary selective cataracts. Remember when your mother accused you of selective hearing as a child – when your hearing was just fine when the ice cream truck turned the corner, but maybe not so good when chores called.  Same premise.  Here, again, you’ll need the right environmental consultant to clearly explain the situation in non-technical terms and to provide timely and cost-sensitive solutions.  You’ll find those cataracts clear up quickly, without expensive surgery.
  • Environmental hair loss.  This one is easy to diagnose as it differs significantly from typical male pattern baldness.  It’s more patchy.  When presented with a patient with this type of random hair loss – a spot here, a spot there – I realize immediately they were pulling their own hair out while reading a poorly written and thus hard to decipher environmental report.  Unfortunately, this is an all too common occurrence.  My advice is to find a consultant that writes clearly and effectively and takes the time for thorough internal peer review, to allow you to make informed business decisions based on the findings.  Your significant other will thank you for it.

Thank you for reading this important environmental public service announcement.  Prevention is always preferred over a cure.  If you have any comments or questions – please chime in below.  The Environmental Doctor is in.