How Much Does an Environmental Site Assessment Cost?

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As an environmental consulting firm in Ontario, AEL fields many questions about the Environmental Site Assessment process and what site owners should do when they need an ESA.

The most common question – “How much will an Environmental Site Assessment Cost for my property?” – is one we hear often. The answer to this is both straightforward and complex.

Simply put, a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is a review of the history of a site (using aerial photos, government records, site walkovers, interviews, report review, and more). This review allows a Qualified Person (a professional engineer or geologist with special accreditation from the government) to determine Areas of Potential Environmental Concern (APECs) which are parts of the site that may have environmental issues.

All this can take several weeks, especially when waiting for reports to come in from various government offices. Generally, the timeline for a Phase I ESA is 15 business days. At your request, a rush report can be available in 10 business days for an additional cost.

The cost of a Phase I ESA comes from several sources:

  • The fees for requesting certain documents from municipal, provincial, and federal government offices
  • Fees for ordering aerial photos
  • Fees for ordering historical property information from a database service
  • Consultant’s time and travel to the site for a walk-over and interviews
  • Researcher’s time to review reports, photos, and compile information
  • Fee for Qualified Person to review reports and determine APECs

In a straightforward sense, all these fees generally total $2,500 or more for a Phase I ESA that will comply with Ontario’s environmental regulations.

However, the cost will depend on the size of the property as well as the size of any structures on the site (the QP must have access to all buildings and all areas of the site during their walkover to comply with O. Reg. 153) which can add time to the site visit. A complex environmental history will add cost as there will be more reports and historical data to review.

While this cost may seem high, keep in mind that a Phase I ESA can alert you to costly environmental liability, saving money in the long run and protecting you from legal issues.

When selecting an environmental consultant to complete your Phase I ESA, make sure that they understand your goals for the site and will provide a report that is compliant with the standards you need to achieve. AEL has a white paper that has nine questions to ask your environmental consultant before hiring them to work with you – this is a helpful resource for ensuring that your project outcomes will be achieved.

All in all, we believe that a Phase I ESA offers a good first step in understanding environmental risk. Whether it is required by your financial institution, needed for a property transaction, or simply requested for your peace of mind, a comprehensive Phase I ESA is often a worthwhile investment.

For information or questions on how much an Environmental Site Assessment will cost, feel free to call us at (800) 267 - 4797 or contact us here.