Environmental Compliance in Commercial Real Estate: Navigating Regulatory Requirements


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Understanding Environmental Compliance in Commercial Real Estate

Explore the complexities of environmental compliance in commercial real estate with Perigon Legal Services. Our guide covers legal requirements, best practices, and risk management strategies.

Author: Stan Faulkner, Founder, Perigon Legal Services, LLC

Mr. Faulkner is an experienced counselor and litigator with 15 years of experience, having held bar licenses in four states (Mo, Il, Ct and Ga). Stan Faulkner uses this experience and focuses his skills in the pursuit of assisting individuals in probate (trust and estate) matters, guardianships and conservatorships, estate planning, business disputes and contract disputes. Published on April 16, 2024.

Environmental Compliance involves an array of regulations and standard practices like those developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), particularly the Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments. Engaging with a real estate attorney and conducting environmental due diligence are prudent steps to take to identify potential environmental liabilities.

Real estate transactions are subject to a swath of environmental impacts—from lead-based paint to endangered species habitats. It is imperative for our clients to grasp the necessity of adhering to legal requirements that surround this critical aspect.

At Perigon Legal Services, we possess extensive experience in handling the complexities of environmental compliance within commercial real estate. We apply our detailed focus and in-depth experience to ensure every aspect of environmental compliance is addressed. This attention guards our clients against unforeseen liabilities, solidifying their investment and our reputation as a trusted legal ally.

The Regulatory Landscape

As professionals in real estate law, we are well-versed in the intricate regulatory landscape that governs environmental compliance within commercial real estate. Understanding these regulations is crucial for you as you navigate property development and transactions.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA is a primary authority enforcing environmental laws that impact commercial real estate. Regulations under this umbrella affect various aspects of property management and development, with strict adherence required to uphold environmental integrity.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)

CERCLA, often referred to as Superfund, details procedures for cleaning up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites. Before any property transaction, assessing potential CERCLA liabilities is imperative.

Conducting Environmental Assessments

Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) form the backbone of our rigorous due diligence. The two-tiered approach often starts with a Phase I ESA, which includes:

  • Phase I Environmental Site Assessment: An essential first step in our due diligence. Conducted by an environmental professional, it identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. This assessment is critical in detecting Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs), including soil, groundwater contamination, and hazardous substances.
  • Phase II Environment Site Assessment: If necessary, a Phase II ESA is conducted, involving direct sampling to confirm the presence or absence of hazardous materials.

As we focus on your needs, we ensure a comprehensive environmental assessment is part of our attentive and skillful approach to real estate transactions. Our commitment to excellence drives us to meticulously handle every aspect of your interests, ensuring you are informed and protected every step of the way.

Managing Environmental Risks in Commercial Properties

Identifying Potential Environmental Risks

In commercial real estate, we emphasize that potential environmental risks are critical considerations, and recognizing environmental conditions is paramount. Some conditions we check for include: 

  • Soil contaminations: Assessing the potential for pollutants in the soil that may affect property usability.
  • Groundwater issues: Checking for underground water contamination that could pose significant long-term liabilities.

Mitigating and Managing Risks

To protect you from potential liability, we advocate for proactive environmental risk management strategies. We develop strategies to deal with any identified environmental risks. Additionally, we ensure ongoing compliance with environmental regulations.

As diligent legal advisors, we integrate skilled legal acumen with a commitment to address each environmental challenge with the utmost care and precision. Our involvement in all environmental issues and compliance demonstrates our profound dedication to client service, emphasizing the need to protect both your commercial interests and the environment.

Navigating Legal Requirements

When managing commercial real estate transactions, we understand that compliance with environmental laws is paramount. Environmental compliance requires attention to detail and a rigorous approach.

Here’s how we approach environmental compliance:

  1. Lead-based paint: In line with federal law like the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, properties constructed before 1978 necessitate disclosure and may require inspection or abatement. This holds particularly true when the property is destined for residential use or when renovations are planned.
  2. Groundwater contamination: Our due diligence includes an evaluation for any groundwater contamination that may necessitate remediation. We guide our clients through the complexities of dealing with such issues, ensuring they meet all regulatory standards.
  3. Vapor intrusion: Should there be concerns with vapor intrusion—where chemicals from contaminated groundwater or soil migrate into the indoor air of a building—we assist property owners in conducting the necessary assessments and implementing mitigation strategies if needed. 
  4. Endangered species concerns: Endangered species, a key environmental consideration, are protected under various laws and regulations, making it imperative to perform evaluations and plan accordingly to prevent any infringement on these protected entities. 
  5. Periodic testing: We recommend and facilitate periodic testing to not only comply with environmental regulations but also to proactively manage any potential environmental liability.

We provide experienced representation, understanding the vitality of mitigating risks in a commercial real estate transaction. For any possible disputes, our real estate dispute attorney stands ready to defend your best interests with stalwart commitment.

Developing a Compliance Strategy

As stewards of our clients’ trust at Perigon Legal Services, we meticulously craft compliance roadmaps that account for the multifaceted nature of real estate transactions. Our strategy commences with obtaining all necessary permits and ensuring alignment with local, state, and federal standards.

We recognize that environmental liabilities pose significant risks; thus, our approach involves exhaustive assessments to identify any contingencies that may affect your investment. Our strategy is not devised in isolation; it is a collaborative effort intertwining our legal skills with your nuanced needs.

Every step is taken with precise care, for achieving compliance is not merely a regulatory requirement—it is a commitment to the sustainability of your investments and the broader community.

The Role of Perigon Legal Services in Environmental Compliance

In commercial real estate transactions, environmental compliance is not just a legal obligation; it is also a cornerstone of sustainable and responsible investment. At Perigon Legal Services, we are your partner in navigating environmental compliance, bringing our unique blend of detailed attention and personal care to each project.

Our team, encompassing both legal professionals and real estate brokers, can assist you in conducting thorough environmental due diligence. We emphasize not only the legal aspects but also the importance of protecting your interests amidst environmental concerns. The intersection of real estate law and environmental law often requires specialized knowledge and experience, which our real estate attorneys as real estate brokers are proudly equipped to offer.

Get Help From a Real Estate Attorney Today

For those who seek skillful, thorough, and trustworthy guidance in meeting environmental regulatory compliance within the realm of commercial real estate, Perigon Legal Services stands as a dedicated ally. Our commitment to your success is reflected in the detailed, focused, and compassionate service you receive. We ensure that every environmental compliance step is addressed, safeguarding your real estate investments from unforeseen liabilities.

We invite you to reach out to us today and experience the peace of mind that comes with having an adept legal partner.

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