• Can AI Write an ESA Report?

  • There’s been a lot of talk recently about AI and Chatbots and whether they will replace living breathing professionals for writing ESA reports. I’ve even heard that ‘Dinosaurs’ (like myself, although I prefer to be labelled as a crocodile) will become obsolete. To test this out, I input several inquiries into an online AI Chatbot (in this case Microsoft Bing, since its free) to check it out. I noted that several different versions of my question (e.g. requests for a blog about ESAs, an ESA report, and a Phase 1 ESA Executive Summary) all yielded almost identical replies.

    Here’s what the Chatbot had to say….

    Question: write a blog about Phase One Environmental Site Assessments

    Chatbot Answer:

    A Phase One Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is a report that evaluates the environmental risks and liabilities of a property ¹. It is often conducted as part of the real estate due diligence process ³. The report typically includes the following sections:
    1. Introduction: This section provides an overview of the purpose and scope of the report.
    2. Site Description: This section describes the location, size, and history of the site.
    3. Site Inspection: This section documents the visual observations made during the site inspection, including any potential environmental concerns.
    4. Regulatory Review: This section reviews the regulatory history of the site and identifies any potential environmental liabilities.
    5. Historical Research: This section reviews historical records to identify any past uses or activities that may have impacted the site.
    6. Conclusions and Recommendations: This section summarizes the findings of the report and provides recommendations for further action if necessary.

    The executive summary of a Phase One ESA should provide a brief overview of each section of the report, highlighting any significant findings or concerns ⁵. It should also include a clear statement of whether or not any environmental liabilities were identified during the assessment ².

    Environmental due diligence in real estate transactions involves the assessment of known, potential, and contingent environmental liabilities and obligations associated with a parcel of property to be acquired ¹. The nature and extent of environmental due diligence is colored by the current use (e.g., commercial, industrial, residential) and historic use of the property, as well as by its location and the nature of the laws and regulations to which the property is subject ¹.

    Some common environmental concerns that may arise during a property transaction include:
    1. Soil or groundwater contamination: This can result from current or historic uses of the property or from offsite locations ¹.
    2. Hazardous building materials: These include asbestos and lead-based paints, which may be present in onsite structures ¹.
    3. Compliance with environmental requirements: This includes evaluating whether the property is in compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations ¹.
    4. Wetlands: If a real estate transaction involves a development project, there may be a need to evaluate the real property for site-specific features such as wetlands and threatened or endangered species ¹.

    It's important to identify and address such issues during due diligence to avoid unknowingly assuming substantial liabilities ⁶. Parties looking to put a property up for sale may also conduct due diligence in advance of taking the deal to the marketplace in order to better evaluate the relative value of potential bids, make informed decisions regarding indemnities, or evaluate possible risk transfer products such as insurance ¹.

    (Note - the Chatbot response also included a number of weblink references, which have been omitted to save space)

    In a future blog I will discuss some of the findings of my initial foray into the world of AI and Chatbots – but for now I’m not too worried about becoming obsolete just yet – at least not before my pending retirement.

    Bill Leedham, P. Geo., CESA
    Bill is the Head Instructor and Course Developer for the Associated Environmental Site Assessors of Canada (
    www.aesac.ca); and the founder and President of Down 2 Earth Environmental Services Inc. You can contact Bill at info@down2earthenvironmental.ca