University of Minnesota  Procedure

Environmental Assessments and Remediation


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Governing Policy


Please use the contact section in the governing policy.


The intent of the Environmental Assessments and Remediation procedure is to identify recognized environmental conditions (REC) associated with building materials, indoor air quality, soil, and groundwater, and to mitigate their potential effects on human health and the environment. Data collected, as part of the assessment, will be used to develop project plans that minimize risk and comply with the law.

The University must assess soil and groundwater quality on University properties prior to purchase and development. Prior to demolition or renovation of existing facilities, interior spaces must be tested for the presence of hazardous substances when indicated by historical and current uses.  All environmental assessments will be performed in accordance with nationally recognized standards. The following principles will be employed in the assessment and remediation process:

  • Assessment of buildings, soil, and groundwater will consider the year of construction, building practices, water damage, and previous maintenance and use.
  • Building materials, soil, and groundwater that are potentially contaminated will be tested to determine whether contaminated materials must be removed, abated, or remediated.
  • Remediation plans will appropriately balance public health, environmental impact, and cost.
  • Where removal of contaminants is not feasible and not required by a regulatory agency, a management plan will be developed and compliance will be monitored.


This program applies to properties that the University plans to purchase and University properties system-wide.  Environmental assessments will include investigation of the following media and building materials:

  • Soil, surface water, and groundwater
  • Vapor intrusion into buildings from subsurface volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Groundwater at elevations that may rise above the building footings
  • Asbestos containing materials
  • Regulated refrigerants
  • Electrical and hydraulic equipment containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)
  • Heavy metal contaminants in air or on surfaces. For example mercury from lab activities, building plumbing or other devices; or lead from building finishes or materials
  • Caulk that contains PCB
  • Mold infestation from building moisture intrusion
  • Hazardous chemical contamination in laboratories, laboratory ventilation systems, or sanitary sewers
  • Pesticides
  • Tanks used for storage of hazardous materials or petroleum
  • Radioactive substances


Property Acquisitions

An Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) and, when indicated, a Phase II ESA will be completed prior to transfer of real property to the University. These documents will be prepared by a Qualified Environmental Consultant (QEC), and reviewed by DEHS staff.

Buildings may also be evaluated for hazardous materials, including lead paint, PCBs, mercury, mold, and asbestos containing materials by the Facilities Management Hazardous Materials Program (FMHMP).

University-Owned Properties: Soil and Groundwater Assessment

An ESA will be completed for construction projects that will require excavation and removal from the site.  The Assessment will focus on the additional data needed for the proposed land use.

Soil quality samples may be screened or collected and analyzed .  Soil will not leave the site until the soil is inspected for contamination or, if indicated, laboratory analysis is completed. Based on this information, DEHS staff will determine if soil meets the MPCA standard for reuse as unregulated fill or if it needs to be disposed of at a permitted landfill.

Groundwater quality samples will be collected if evidence suggests that the groundwater in the area may have elevated concentrations of organic or inorganic contaminants.  If the analytical data indicate that the groundwater has elevated concentrations of volatile organic compounds, then a remediation plan will be developed and implemented.

Pre-Demolition Assessment of Building Materials

When buildings or interior spaces are scheduled for demolition or remodeling, the building construction plans and history will be reviewed, and the building will be inspected.  Information from this process will be used to develop a plan for testing building materials.

Demolition may not proceed until all hazardous materials have been identified and removed, or a plan for removal during demolition has been prepared.

Response Action Plans

When feasible, assessment and remediation work may be performed by qualified University staff.  A Qualified Environmental Consultant (QEC) may be hired to work on projects. Use of a QECs will be noted in the assessment and remediation work plans.

A work plan will be prepared with a scope of work and a cost estimate for response actions for abatement or management of hazardous substances in buildings, soil or groundwater. Capital Project Management (CPM) staff will work with environmental assessment staff to develop cost estimates and budgets for response actions.

All assessment work will be completed in compliance with federal and state regulations or in a manner consistent with the care and skill ordinarily exercised by members of the environmental profession.  University staff will work with the MPCA staff to protect the University's interests as required.

Roles and Responsibilities

Department of Environmental Health and Safety

  • Provides the Real Estate Office with technical assistance associated with preparation of ESAs and environmental liabilities and responsibility sections of access agreements.
  • Supports the Office of the General Counsel with preparation of contracts and agreements regarding environmental issues and provides environmental technical support for litigation when needed.
  • Assists with the preparation of ESAs for University properties that are selected for redevelopment.  If the property has received liability protection through the MPCA's VIC program or the Petroleum Brownfields program, ESA updates will be submitted to the MPCA.
  • Prepares a contingency plan for projects where no contamination has been identified, but the property has the potential for contamination.
  • Participates in the selection of a QEC.
  • Consults with the QEC or FMHMP to determine a scope of work when the initial environmental site assessment indicates hazardous substances or other environmental risks may be present.
  • Verifies that work is completed before payment of invoices.
  • Supports Facilities Management Hazardous Materials Program (FMHMP) with evaluating interior spaces. UHS Radiation Safety Department will screen for radioisotopes when a room history indicates the need, and assist with managing regulated waste.
  • Periodically audit asbestos and lead remediation projects.

Facilities Management Hazardous Materials Program (FMHMP)

  • Updates, conducts, or oversees preparation of Pre-Demolition Checklist consistent with standard procedures for evaluating building materials on University properties, and provides the reports to CPPM for their evaluation and review.
  • Conducts surveys of asbestos, mercury, perchlorate and lead in University buildings and provides survey information to project teams for capital projects.
  • Develops feasibility-level cost estimates for abatement of asbestos, mercury and lead containing materials and paint.
  • Updates the Facilities Condition Assessment Database with results from surveys and cost estimates for abatement.
  • Develops plans for mitigation and abatement of asbestos, mercury and lead. Reviews work performed by asbestos, mercury and lead consultants and contractors for compliance with University standards.
  • Provides project team with closeout documents for asbestos, lead, and mercury.

Planning, Space, and Real Estate

  • Manages budget for real estate transactions.
  • Manages purchase transactions and processes necessary to complete environmental due diligence.
  • Contracts with a QEC to complete a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Report and building materials survey for all real properties prior to transfer of the property to the University.
  • Contracts with a QEC to conduct a Phase II Environmental Site Investigation when a REC is identified in Phase I.
  • Provides information and documents for properties where Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments have been completed following acquisition of the property.

Capital Project Management

  • Oversees scope, schedule and budget for environmental assessments and remediation.
  • Manages the RFP and QEC selection.
  • Manages QEC and receives reports and preliminary cost estimates from QEC.
  • Firms up remedial options, scope of work, and cost estimates for remediation, and implements the decisions of the project team.
  • Records design intent and decisions.

Applicable University Policies, Standards and Regulations

The following University policies, industry standards and government regulations will apply to implementation of the environmental assessments and remedial actions described in this document.

  • ASTM E 1527 Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process
  • ASTM E 1528 Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Transaction Screen Process
  • ASTM E 1903 Guide for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase II Environmental Site Assessment Process
  • US Environmental Protection Agency (40 CFR Part 312) “All Appropriate Inquiry”
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Voluntary Investigation and Cleanup Program Guidance Documents
  • Minnesota Department of Health Rules, Clean Indoor Air Chapter 4620, Parts 3000 to 3724,
  • Minnesota Department of Health Rules Residential Lead Abatement Chapter 4761
  • TSCA (15 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.) Title 1 - Control of Toxic Substances
  • TSCA (15 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.) Title 2 - Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response