We use an environmental due diligence approach that emphasizes environmental stewardship, saves money, limits waste and energy consumption, and allows you to successfully work within an expedited schedule.
In a recent case involving the potential acquisition of a70-acre industrial facility in the Midwest, we had to complete Phase I and IIESAs, which typically take at best 60 to 90 days, within 30 days.
Through our efforts, we gave the client – and their shareholders – the information they needed to make the decision to acquire the property. In the fourth quarter of 2020, we worked with a client who wanted to buy an industrial property in the Midwest. They required a quick turnaround time for our environmental due diligence work because the seller was motivated and had multiple potential buyers interested in the property.
Our client wanted the property. It was the ideal location for this organization. One of their major customers wanted them to have a plant nearby so they could supply their facility quicker… especially since the COVID pandemic had strained the supply chain.
Our task: our environmental due diligence had to define potential risks and liabilities associated with the client purchasing the property and further redeveloping it. And as soon as we came onboard, the urgency was emphasized.
We had to complete Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) on a 70-acre industrial facility within 30 days. Typically, such activities take 60 to 90 days at best, with work including sampling of groundwater and soil. On top of that strict schedule, we also had to deal with COVID travel restrictions and other associated access restrictions, securing necessary materials and products in this time of tight demand, and limited subcontractor availability. A project like this under a normal schedule could exceed $250,000. We completed it for <$120,000.
At Envision Environmental, Inc., we can always find ways to incorporate environmental stewardship into our services, even when faced with expedited schedules, and stay well under budget. To help us achieve such goals, we utilize our in-house due diligence program we developed that helps us effectively zero in on environmental risks and liabilities during property acquisitions or divestitures.
Our Unique Approach
Typically, when these types of project challenges present themselves – expedited schedule requirements, limited resources, multi-faceted project goals, etc. – a consultant’s first move is to throw numerous resources at the project to get it done.
Our program is not only focused on getting the project done in a timely manner but also in a technically sound and economically feasible manner, meeting all regulatory criteria – always keeping environmental stewardship integrated with everything we do.
First, we review the project in great detail upfront with the client, including our client’s entire project team in the dialogue, because everyone has a certain viewpoint on a project. You need that holistic understanding from everyone involved so you can design your project approach to meet everyone’s expectations and needs.
You must also understand what other due diligence, not just environmental, is being done on the site as part of the acquisition. In some cases, we are able to incorporate our work with other work being done on-site by “piggybacking” on what other stages of work are being conducted on the site.
This project was the perfect example. Our client was interested in further developing the property after acquisition. As part of that, our understanding was that they would need to excavate several feet into the ground in order to install foundations for process equipment.
As part of our environmental work, we discovered that the site had a shallow groundwater table with shallow bedrock. By understanding that our client intended to further develop the site and how they planned on conducting that work (remember we kicked off this project with a detailed review with our client’s entire project team), we were able to realize that the site’s shallow groundwater and bedrock geology would present a number of engineering challenges for our client’s planned development.
We started discussing these findings right away with the client, without waiting to put together the official report, because we knew oftheir development plans. This close collaboration also helped keep to the tight schedule.
The Power of Piggybacking
Our initial findings identified an urgent need for borings provided by a geotechnical engineering firm. They would need to do soil borings to determine if groundwater – or bedrock – was going to be an issue for any development plans.
We worked closely with the project engineering team for property development. We found that they were going to install close to 30borings for geotechnical purposes at this site. We asked them to share with us the locations of those borings, so we could see how they compared to existing areas of potential environmental concern that we needed to investigate as part of our environmental due diligence.
The site had a long industrial history. There were areas that, due to historical usage and visual assessment, merited a closer look from the environmental aspect. As a result, we recommended further assessment through soil and groundwater sampling. The issue we faced was that we not only needed to determine if any contamination existed onsite, but we also needed to determine the extent of that contamination, if it was present, through delineation – again, all within a very tight timeframe.
The typical approach would be to sample the areas of concern and determine if there’s a problem. But at that point we wouldn’t know the full extent of any impact – is that sample on the fringe or does the contamination get worse elsewhere on the property? As a result, further sampling would be needed to figure this out.
It turned out that about 90% of the 30 geotechnical borings that were going to be conducted overlapped with our environmental areas of concern. We reached out to the geotechnical firm, with our client’s approval, and requested piggybacking on their work, where we could collect soil samples from the geotechnical borings, convert some of these borings to ground water monitoring wells, and have the geotechnical drilling firm install six additional borings for the purpose of our environmental due diligence in areas that they were not drilling in for geotechnical purposes.
Thanks to the thorough canvassing of the property from the geotechnical firm, we had a full picture of the whole site from an environmental perspective, including the soil and groundwater conditions. This approach would eliminate the need for us to conduct any additional environmental drilling and it would provide us with the data needed to not only determine if any soil or groundwater impact existed on-site, but also to delineate that impact if it was present – all within a very limited timeframe without any significant increases in existing budgets.
By piggybacking on the geotechnical work being conducted on-site, we were able to determine if any soil or groundwater impact existed, fully delineate that impact, and determine with confidence our client’s risks and liabilities associated with environmental exposures at this property from both a regulatory and monetary viewpoint. You are seldom able to do that in atypical Phase II ESA.
Under this scenario, we saved our client a considerable amount of money because…
· We didn’t have to do additional mobilizations and use additional drill rigs at the site to conduct environmental work.
· We minimized the amount of waste generated by limiting the number of activities conducted on-site.
· The energy consumption was minimal by combining our environmental assessment activities with the geotechnical work.
· We limited the personnel and equipment on-site.
· We minimized disruption of the seller’s operations at the site, which was still active during portions of our due diligence work.
The End Result
We provided our client with the information they needed in a timely fashion and well within budget. They needed to know what their potential environmental exposures were at this site from both a monetary and regulatory viewpoint.
We gave the client the information they needed to get the shareholders on board and make the business decision to acquire the property. They went through with the acquisition after having saved time and money – over$125,000 – on the environmental due diligence activities.
Throughout it all, we kept environmental stewardship in mind.
I’m ready to answer your specific questions about how we could use this methodology on your project if you’re looking at property acquisition in the near future.
Contact me, Mark Roman, at 609-208-1885 or via email at email@example.com.