32.4 Environmental Review Prior to Acquisition of Real Estate
(Amended 3/01; 3/09)
- General. It is the policy of The University of Iowa to make all appropriate inquiries regarding the environmental condition of real estate assets prior to acquisition to minimize the potential exposure to liability and claims for damages under applicable laws governing the environment and hazardous substances or hazardous conditions. No real property shall be acquired and added to the real property assets of the University until an environmental site assessment has been completed. No commitment to accept a donation or bequest of real property shall be made until an environmental site assessment has been completed.
- Scope. Acquisition of real property includes any manner by which the University obtains a property interest in real estate, including purchase, lease, or gift. Federal and state statutes impose certain liabilities on owners and operators of real property when hazardous substances have been deposited, stored, or released on the property. "Hazardous substance" is broadly defined to include a wide array of chemicals and compounds. To reduce the risk of liability, the University will complete an environmental site assessment (ESA) prior to the acquisition of any parcel of real property. If potential hazards are identified, the University may then weigh the risks to determine whether the acquisition is beneficial and appropriate. If the University makes all appropriate inquiry prior to acquisition and no risks are identified by the ESA, the University may, under certain circumstances, be entitled to assert a defense to liability if hazardous substances are later discovered that were unknown at the time of acquisition.
- Environmental Review Process.
- All environmental site assessments shall be conducted in accordance with and shall meet the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries" (40 CFR 312). All environmental site assessments shall be performed according to standards established by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
- At a minimum, an initial ESA using the most recent version of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard E-1528 "Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Transaction Screen Process" must be conducted on every potential real estate asset prior to acquisition. The scope of any further assessment will be determined by the findings of the transaction screen and by the property's location and history.
- The review process for acquisition of real estate will be the responsibility of the University Environmental Compliance Department, the University Business Office, and the General Counsel's Office.
- All contracts for ESAs and for real property acquisition shall be in a form acceptable to the General Counsel's Office.
- The General Counsel's Office, the University Business Office, and the Environmental Compliance Department shall review the ESA report.
- Investigation of other environmental issues or conditions beyond the scope of the ASTM guidelines may be required and will be determined and performed on a property-by-property basis. These may include the following: asbestos-containing materials, radon, lead-based paint, lead in drinking water, and wetlands.
- If the initial transaction screen indicates areas of concern, the property may be rejected, accepted with the identified risks, or subject to further investigation as a Phase I or II ESA.
- If a Phase I ESA is requested, it shall be conducted by an "environmental professional," as defined in 40 CFR 312, "Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries," unless the University has a qualified employee to do the review. A Phase I review should be conducted following the most current version of ASTM Standard E-1527, "Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process."
- If a Phase II ESA is requested, it must be conducted by an outside consultant, and shall include an examination and sampling of the property and testing and analysis of all samples collected, and shall be conducted in accordance with the most current version of ASTM Standard E 1903, "Standard Guide for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase II Envrionmental Site Assessment Process."
- Recommended Minimum Environmental Review by Property Type.
- Residential property of four or fewer dwelling units: At a minimum, conduct a site visit employing the ASTM E-1528 transaction screen site visit segment.
- Vacant or unoccupied land: Complete evaluation under the ASTM E-1528 "Transaction Screen Process."
- Industrial and Commercial Sites: Engage an environmental professional to conduct a Phase I ESA according to the most current version of ASTM Phase I Standard E-1527 "Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process," including a review of copies of all permits, licensed, notices of violation, orders, or consent agreements issued to owners or operators (tenants) of the site.