This year’s bi-annual summer Environmental Bankers Association (EBA) meeting was held in San Francisco earlier this week. As expected, we covered many interesting topics of particular concern to the environmental professional and lending communities.
The kick off panel for the EBA San Francisco conference consisted of four lawyers covering trends in banking, business and real estate transactions. Though you might think “I’m going to need more coffee to get through this one,” I’m happy to report that that wasn’t the case at all – the speakers were engaging and the content insightful .
Down and Dirty – Industrial Sites and Phase II Investigation Data
The next two EBA panels tackled more technical issues related to due diligence transactions, specifically ESAs for Industrial Manufacturing Operations and Phase II Comparative Data Analysis of Environmental Concerns. I was particularly engaged by the extensive data gathered by the EBA panelists and analyzed by our very own Kathryn Peacock in Partner’s Phoenix office. While we all agree that this was just the first step in obtaining statistically significant data, the EBA presentation provided exciting insight into several correlations covering the following environmental features/property types:
• hydraulic lifts
• oil water separators
• heating oil USTs
• historical manufacturing
• funeral homes
• general auto service and repair
• historical lumber yards
• off site issues
Like Kathryn, I was especially impressed by the general finding that of the analyzed 452 Phase II ESAs spanning 33 states obtained from 4 environmental firms, contamination was detected in 70% of all test cases. I would have expected contamination detected in 50% or less of the sites analyzed. I’m definitely looking forward to the follow-up data at the next EBA meeting in January! Perhaps this will also cover data from dry cleaner sites, which I think many would be interested in.
Technology in Due Diligence
The following EBA panels covered platforms and portals for performing property due diligence work as well SBA updates. The Technology Change session was well moderated and touched on some good points such as safety and ownership of information saved to the Cloud. The SBA session was a strong panel with Eric Adams, Steve O’Lear, and Steve Reynolds. As always, they are great presenters and shared some good pointers with the rest of the EBA group relating to reliance letters, insurance requirements, and foreclosure sites.
Innovation in Remediation and Risk Management
Tuesday’s line up was full of more engaging EBA presentations to choose from, covering Innovative Remediation Technologies and environmental insurance coverage. For me, the true highlight of Tuesday’s EBA agenda was the open forum covering compliance reviews and seismic loss exposure guidelines as well as a left field concept of creating a new type of environmental product for those clients not needing quite the same detailed level of assessment as an E1527 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment or an E1528 Transaction Screen. Some called this product a flow chart, others called it a guidance document, while some referred to it as a standard. Whatever the designation, it is definitely an interesting idea; however, I feel it’s better geared for the less sophisticated environmental assessor/banker.
Environmental Consultants Unite
The EBA Affiliate Environmental Consultants Roundtable ended the conference dissecting the previous sessions and coming up with some great topic ideas for the next EBA meeting. I will refrain from sharing specifics so I don’t spoil the surprise. I will say this- I was particularly impressed by the strong argument for why we as consultants need to start uniting in our stand for quality and pricing.
All in all, it was another valuable EBA meeting for both environmental consultants and bankers alike!