Need a Phase I ESA checklist form in PDF format for your site visit?

Scroll to the bottom of this article and click on the download link button.  Read on to see what’s in it, and see if a digital version might be worth checking out (or why maybe not).

What’s in the PDF version?

There’s a few sections in it that should help jog your memory on what to look for, what to ask when you are conducting your site visit.  This includes:

  • Project Info
  • Utility Providers
  • Site Operations and Limitations
  • Adjacent Streets and Properties
  • Property Building Information
  • Property Additions
  • Property Land Information

It also includes a notes and photos section, and a signature block.

Anything out of the ordinary in it?

The Property/Land Information section is good.  It includes a table that includes status questions for the following:

  • Site improvements
  • Evidence of fill
  • Pits, ponds, lagoons
  • Potential wetlands and floodplains
  • Discolored or polluted water, unusual or noxious odors
  • Discolored or disturbed soil; areas of sparse, sick or dead vegetation
  • Evidence of buried solid waste
  • Dumpsters, trash, debris
  • Grease collection bins
  • Wastewater/septic systems (has the site ever used septic historically)
  • Water supply and/or monitoring wells
  • Chemical/petroleum use & storage [automotive or industrial batteries – pesticides / herbicides – paints – solvents / thinners – other chemicals in individual containers > 5 gal or > 50 gal in aggregate stored on or used at the property ]
  • ASTs / USTs / drums / storage tanks
  • Vent pipes or fill ports
  • Oil water separator or grease trap
  • Possible PCB-containing equipment (eg, transformers)
  • Stained/stressed soil or vegetation, stained pavement
  • Emergency generators, hydraulic lifts,
  • elevators (note fuel type and storage)
  • Other concerns or evidence of environmental impacts

What about a digital version of this form?

This Environmental Phase I ESA checklist form for site visits can be used in XForms.  Some benefits of using it on a phone or iPad:

  • It has listboxes that can be used to make text entry easier
  • You can transcribe spoken words into written notes
  • You can take pictures and draw on top of them to point things out
  • You can sign the form with your finger
  • When you submit your form in the field, that info is nearly immediately available to others in various formats, including a PDF version

Unfortunately, using software to populate an environmental site visit checklist also has some drawbacks. These include:

  • It can be a distraction from your core work being conducted at the site, especially if the form is really long and tedious (short forms are best)
  • Squinting into a phone to fill out something during crappy weather is not fun
  • Sometimes process like this might be overkill for your task at hand

What’s the digital version look like in XForms?

Here’s an animated gif of an Environmental Phase I ESA checklist form in XForms, running on an iPhone:

Seems like overkill to enter this stuff into a tiny screen…

Yea.  Agreed.  Phones and tablets are best suited for short data entry tasks.  And although entering Phase I ESA checklist info into a digital form on a phone technically works, In the case of a Phase I ESA checklist, its probably not very efficient to do that.  When you are conducting a site visit, there’s a lot going on…you have to look for possible recognized environmental concerns (RECs) in an already unfamiliar place, possibly while either being escorted by someone or interviewing someone.  It’s not exactly easy to do all of that while also trying to enter things into a screen, especially if the weather sucks, or someone is looking over your shoulder.

Verdict: For a Phase I site visit, paper seems easier than digital

Hard to believe that a software business that promotes all things digital would say this, but in this particular case, it’s easier to use a paper form (or just a blank piece of paper) when conducting a site visit walk through for a due diligence project.  Sure, the checklist can help you remember things to keep an eye out for, but if you are a seasoned pro, you know what to do and look for.  You don’t need a crutch.  And you especially don’t need to fill out a really long form while conducting your site visit.  you can do that later, away from the site.

You can enter your chicken-scratch Phase I ESA field notes into the web browser version of the mobile app when you get back to the office.

That’s what I do….I’ll conduct a site visit with some blank paper in hand (just in case), and an iPhone in my pocket.  I’ll take a lot of pictures…from the site boundary corners, interior pictures, and anything that looks suspect.  A few notes here and there on blank paper.  Then I drive back to my office (or my house), and maybe the following day I’ll enter the info into XForms via the web browser version of the mobile app.  Then I’ll dump all the pictures into Quire.

So if you want your notes to look professional, you can do what I mentioned above…XForms will auto-generate a nice-looking PDF, and if you have integrations set up, those integrations will fire and automate a lot of the downstream processes like uploading a completed PDF to OneDrive, or emailing it to your Project Manager.


The best of both worlds:

  • Use paper and a pen during your site visit, and

  • Enter your notes into XForms via the web browser version of the mobile app

Result: simple field process, but with backend automations including professional-looking PDF output forms, automatically emailed to your project manager and posted into your cloud storage project folder.


Want to download a blank Phase I ESA Site Visit template?


Want to give XForms a look?