Environmental Audits An environmental audit is an evaluation, often required by a governmental agency, to identify whether a business is in compliance with environmental regulations and if there are gaps in management systems implementation. Areas that need to be remedied, if any, are normally part of the audit report. In this sense, this type of audit is similar to a financial audit. Environmental audits review a business’s operations and its processes to assess compliance with environmental regulations and laws. The audits typically cover a wide range of activities and areas of functions, including –
Business activities and procedures
Building sites and buildings
Commercial and industrial developments
Engineering hazards Audits can range from basic reviews of facility safety that are legally-mandated, to voluntary reviews of a company’s environmental practices.
The most common application of environmental audits occurs in real estate transactions. Buyers are increasingly concerned about environmental issues that may not have been disclosed or are unknown to the seller that could eventually lead to future expense and a possible dispute. Audits can identify environmental problems, such as contamination, for example, but can also alert a client to the likely costs associated with alleviating the problem so that all environmental standards are met. In the case of a real estate transaction, if the audit uncovers a problem, a prospective buyer can withdraw from a deal or ask the seller for compensation with respect to cleanup expenses or regulatory penalties. The quality and scope of environmental audits varies significantly depending on a business’s needs and the regulatory requirements. Some clients are in need of one-time or periodic inspections of the major areas of their facility operations. Others limit their audits to document reviews without asking for a physical facility inspection. Businesses that are concerned with legal penalties for non-compliance typically seek more detailed audits. In addition, greater numbers of companies are becoming concerned with conserving and protecting the environment and seek more thorough audits. The Juslaws & Consult Environmental Law Practice provides comprehensive services ranging from environmental audits to negotiating environmental permits and representing clients before various environmental officials. As well as advice and service purchasing or selling businesses and real estate in cases where there are potential environmental issues.