Last updated: April 2022
This page contains information on important Office of Housing topics as they relate to the environmental review process.
An environmental review is the process of reviewing a project and its potential environmental impacts to determine whether it meets federal, state, and local environmental standards. The environmental review process is required for all HUD-assisted and insured Office of Housing projects to ensure that the proposed project does not negatively impact the surrounding environment, and that the property site itself will not have an adverse environmental or health effect on residents.
Additional information and resources that can be found on the Office of Housing Environmental Review Resources page.
A: The Multifamily Accelerated Processing (MAP) Guide states at 9.1.2.a.1 that HUD must aggregate together related activities when completing an environmental review. Where a multifamily parcel that applies for an FHA-insured mortgage is part of a larger site, the project should be defined as the multifamily parcel plus the parts of the rest of the site that are directly related to the multifamily development (access roads, parking, storm water detention systems, open spaces, utilities connections, etc.). What gets defined as directly related is contextual depending on the project circumstances and may vary from project to project.
Three examples of common aggregation scenarios for FHA applications:
This example considers a Historic Building Tower renovation with two owners. Owner one has floors one through eight and floor thirty-two for a hotel and restaurant. Owner two has floors nine through thirty-one for multifamily housing. Floors nine through thirty-one are the only portions of the development that would be HUD insured.
In this example, the Historic Building Tower must be considered as a single project for the purposes of the environmental review, even though there are two owners and that only some floors would be part of the HUD collateral. This means that the Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, radon testing, Section 106 historic review, contamination review, and other environmental review considerations must be assessed, at minimum, for the entire building and parcel on which it is sited.
If mitigation is required as a result of the environmental review, it must cover the entire building and must be included in the development agreement.
The second example considers a new development project on a vacant 15-acre parcel. The FHA application is for the construction of a new multifamily housing development with an associated parking lot. The plan for the rest of the parcel includes three retail buildings, a for-profit fitness center, and parking for the fitness center and retail buildings.
In this example, the aggregated project area for the multifamily project is defined as the collateral parcel for the multifamily development and parking area, plus a new access road and new utility pipeline that will serve the project. The existing roads and existing utility pipeline would not be part of the aggregated project, because they are in place and serve the general neighborhood. The retail buildings and the for-profit fitness center would not be included as part of the aggregated project, even though they may be used by residents of the multifamily development, because they are not directly related.
The third example considers an FHA application for a multifamily project that will be part of a Planned Unit Development (PUD). The PUD extends to the north and east of an existing neighborhood and will include new single-family units, neighborhood roads, baseball fields, a green space to serve all residents, stormwater retention pond, and the FHA multifamily project with associated roads and utilities.
In this example, the aggregated project area for the FHA multifamily project is defined as the collateral parcel for the multifamily project plus the parking, access roads and utilities that will serve the project, and the stormwater retention pond. The other PUD projects would not be included as part of the aggregated project, even though parts may be used by residents of the multifamily building, because they are not directly related. (Note: If the adjacent green space was included as part of the collateral, or a requirement for the FHA deal, this space would be aggregated with the project as well.)
The examples are intended to be instructional and are not rules to be followed; each project and its environmental conditions are unique and require an individual aggregation determination.
For all projects, the environmental review’s consideration of potential impacts to resources can and often must extend beyond the defined project boundaries in order to comply with the laws and authorities. For example, a project’s impacts to historic resources (the “Area of Potential Effects” or APE) can extend beyond the boundaries of an aggregated project site, especially if a project is located in a historic district.
A project could also impact wetlands or endangered species beyond the aggregated site. Similarly, floodplains, contamination sources, and other hazards outside the aggregated project site should be considered in the environmental review when they could increase risk at the project site.
A: In all cases, the environmental review must be complete and approved in HEROS before Multifamily issues a Firm Commitment. The HEROS review and the Firm Commitment can be conditioned on future environmental mitigation actions, but only when plans for such mitigation have been fully developed and approved by HUD. All consultation must be complete and any issues identified during consultation resolved before HUD can complete and approve an environmental review. The table below includes scenarios that HUD can approve and scenarios that HUD must deny.
|Condition Approved||Condition Denied|
|Historic Preservation: Signed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)/Tribe requires an archaeologist be present during excavation.
The archaeologist should be selected and already have a contract in place.
|Historic Preservation: MOA will be developed or signed in the future.
All consultation must be complete, correspondence with tribes resolved, etc. before HUD can complete an environmental review and issue a FIRM.
|Toxic Hazards: Site remediation will take place during construction; remediation plan has been approved by the state.
HUD should review the cost estimate and ensure the removal contractor is appropriately bonded and qualified. See MAP Chapters 9.4 and 9.5 for more details.
|Toxic Hazards: Remediation plans will be reviewed or approved as a condition of the Firm.
Projects must meet requirements in Chapter 9.4 before HUD can complete an environmental review and issue a Firm.
|Wetland: Best Management Practices for soil erosion as identified in the 8-step process will be implemented during construction.
Condition must be in FIRM agreement and construction documents.
|Wetland: 8-step will be conducted as condition of the FIRM.
The 8-step is a decision-making process and must be complete prior to HUD issuing a FIRM.
A: HUD must document future environmental mitigation in the HEROS Mitigation Measures and Conditions Screen and include the mitigation measure in the Firm Commitment, Closing Agreement, and other relevant documents. The mitigation measure must describe the action, identify who is responsible for implementing the measure, and include an associated timeline (e.g., by initial endorsement, final endorsement, and/or ongoing by Asset Management.)
This table includes specific examples of acceptable and unacceptable mitigation measures.
|Acceptable Mitigation Measure||Unacceptable|
|Endangered Species: No trees may be removed between April 15-September 15 to avoid impacts to bats’ summer habitats. Developer must complete any and all tree removal prior to April 15, while bats are still in hibernation. HUD construction analysts will review site construction plan prior to initial endorsement to ensure this condition. HUD Architectural and Construction Analysis will confirm condition was met prior to final endorsement.||Construction will avoid impacts to bat habitat.|
|Floodplain Management: All new construction will be elevated two feet above base flood elevation to protect residents. Sidewalks will be composed of pervious surfaces to facilitate drainage. HUD construction analysts will confirm construction plans prior to initial endorsement.||Project will be elevated to control flooding and will use green infrastructure.|
|Fence Protecting Residents from Railroad Tracks: Borrower will construct a 6-ft fence along the entire length of the property. Prior to initial endorsement, the HUD construction analyst will review and approve final construction plans. Construction Analyst will verify completion of construction prior to Final Endorsement. During the term of the insurance, HUD Asset Management will verify the fence is being maintained in good condition.||Project needs a fence along the rail line.|
A: MAP Guide Chapter 9 and the Office of Residential Care Facilities (ORCF) 4128 workbook require that Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) containing, or previously containing, hazardous waste or petroleum products not regulated by the local, state, tribal, or federal (LSTF), complete an integrity test and an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) plan.
A: The UST and its service lines must pass an integrity test before HUD completes the environmental review.
A: The O&M plan must include periodic testing of the tank and its service lines, as well as repair, maintenance, and emergency response procedures.
A: The integrity test must be performed by a professional following the state or EPA requirements appropriate for the tank size and structure.
A: These requirements do not apply to propane USTs.
A: HUD maintains a database of Programmatic Agreements.
This database includes Programmatic Agreements that cover Part 50 reviews as well as Programmatic Agreements that cover Part 58 reviews. The database also includes Programmatic Agreements that have expired. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and other Housing Programs that are under Part 50 can only use Programmatic Agreements that cover Part 50 reviews and are currently in effect. The environmental review in HUD Environmental Review Online System (HEROS) must cite the specific provision of the Programmatic Agreement that applies to the project.
There are current Part 50 Programmatic Agreements in the following states:
There is a pending Part 50 Programmatic Agreement in Texas. HUD is working on Part 50 Programmatic Agreements in many other states and will post updates to this FAQ as available.
A: When evaluating EA-level new construction or conversion projects with unacceptable noise levels, HUD has three options:
Lenders considering requesting an EIS waiver for noise must work closely with their Multifamily contact, who will work with the Regional or Field Environmental Officer (REO/FEO), the Housing Program Environmental Clearance Officer (PECO), and HUD’s noise expert.
Lender Role: Lenders must note in the application/pre-application package and in HEROS when a project has noise over 75 dB (DNL) and should state whether the project is new construction or conversion and will require an EIS waiver (or EIS) to proceed. The application/pre-application must explain why HUD should consider an EIS waiver for this project, including marketability and/or mission driven factors, planned mitigation, difficulty of locating other sites, reason why this site is good for housing, etc. and commitment to providing complete information in support of the waiver process. HUD will request a letter covering this information if it determines a noise waiver is required after the application submission.
Any information that can be shared at the concept meeting stage will help expedite the waiver process.
Early Consultation with Waiver Team: Multifamily production staff must notify the REO/FEO and the Housing PECO immediately after determining that a project will need an EIS waiver for noise. This step ensures early coordination in order to streamline the waiver process.
Waiver Request Memo: The Multifamily production office processing the application will draft a memo (with input from the Housing PECO and REO/FEO) that describes the basis for the waiver request, a project overview, status of application processing, any major environmental concerns and mitigation (including noise), and the specific plans to attenuate noise to HUD’s standards. The memo must also reference the supporting documentation and make a recommendation to accept or reject the EIS waiver.
HQ Waiver Review:
A: Potential information sources for planned Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs) may include:
A: The environmental review determines project impacts and compliance based on the information available at the time of the environmental review. For sites outside of the control of the HUD applicant or partner, such as nearby planned hazardous facilities, the environmental review must assess the impact of the planned facility based on the information available at the time the review is completed.
A: The restrictions on fall hazards and pipelines apply to buildings, ancillary facilities, structures, or common areas. HUD defines ancillary facilities as facilities ancillary to housing. This would include onsite areas that are not residential buildings, but are there to support or complement residential buildings and are used by people, including private balconies, front or back yards, divided green space or patios, carports, garages, sheds and pergolas or buildings like gyms, pool houses, etc. Ancillary facilities would also include “common areas,” which are the non-private ancillary spaces on the housing site that residents are allowed or expected to access. Common areas are areas where people would likely congregate, and include playgrounds, and outdoor recreation areas. Parking lots included within the site boundaries of, and designed to serve the residents of, a HUD-insured residential or mixed-use development are covered under this definition.
Walking trails, pathways and sidewalks that include items such as sitting benches, tables, pergolas, or gazebos are always considered common areas of congregation. Walking trails, pathways and sidewalks without these amenities may be excluded on a case-by-case basis (for example a trail in a natural area that is not actively managed or monitored by the property, or a trail segment and connects to a larger biking or walking trail network.)
A: All projects at the Categorically Excluded, Subject To (CEST) or Environmental Assessment (EA) level review must identify all pipelines within the site boundaries or immediately adjacent to the property that transport flammable or combustible liquids or gases at a pressure exceeding 200 pound per square inch in gauge (psig) in order to confirm that no structures, ancillary facilities, common areas, parking areas or like related improvements are within 10 feet of the easement of a pressurized pipeline. This does not apply to distribution lines supplying only the facility itself.
If not already identified on the site survey or site plan, these pipelines can be identified using the National Pipeline Mapping System and other sources such as state databases. If these resources do not provide adequate detail on all areas within 10 feet of site improvements, all available resources, including 811, should be used to ensure compliance.
A: For new construction projects and rehabilitation projects where residential density is increased, the environmental review must consider 9.6.19.A (specific pipeline resources discussed in question 4) and Section 9.6.19.B, which requires assessment of above-ground and below-ground pipelines within a mile of the property that transport flammable or combustible liquids or gases at a pressure exceeding 200 psig. This includes onsite or immediately adjacent pipelines outside of the 10-foot setback from the easement.
For the one-mile baseline impact radius assessment, HUD’s primary reference is the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) Pipeline Information Management and Mapping Application (PIMMA) and the site survey, as corroborated by site observation.
For projects near fracking sites, the requirement at 9.6.19.D.6.b to analyze hazards from above ground fracking operations within 1000 feet of the property includes above ground pipelines associated with the fracking operation that are above 200 psi. These may be identified through the agency that regulates the oil and gas industry in the jurisdiction (in Texas, for example, The Railroad Commission of Texas).
A: The MAP guide has always considered hazards and risks as part of the underwriting process and has included a safe distance from pipeline easements for decades. In 2016, the MAP guide added a risk analysis for pipelines, and the 2020 updates clarify what is involved in that risk analysis.
The risk analysis clarifications are based on a study HUD commissioned in 2016. HUD determined that there was a need to establish specific criteria for pipeline impact radius risk analysis based on the incidence of fires or explosions caused by leaking or damaged lines and the need for criteria that take into account the difference in risk associated with pipelines of larger diameter or greater pressure. HUD also took into account EPA guidelines for siting school facilities and state regulations and local ordinances on pipelines.
A: Step one: Request information on the pipeline attributes (pipeline diameter and operating pressure) from the pipeline owner. Identify yourself as requesting this information for a federal project environmental review. Usually, the pipeline operator for the company owning the pipeline will provide the attribute information for the assessed pipeline.
Step two: If the pipeline operator does not provide the pipeline diameter or operational pressure, the person looking for the information should contact the HUD field or Regional environmental officer for the location where the pipeline is being assessed.
A: Assessments should use the “Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure” (MAOP) for the relevant pipeline segment. MAOP is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as the maximum internal pressure permitted during the operation of a pipeline.
A: Liquids: Screening distances1 for pipelines carrying flammable or combustible liquids were derived using a pool fire analysis that models the volume of liquid contained in a ten-mile section of pipeline, based on diameter, in a pool with an area estimated using a correlation for a standard spill developed by other federal regulatory agencies, and pool depth corresponding to spilled volume and area. The dimensions of this theoretical pool were then processed using the HUD ASD Calculator to determine an Acceptable Separation Distance used as a screening value. HUD has determined that it is not practicable to reproduce this calculation to screen individual liquid-carrying pipelines. For pipelines with a diameter between given values in the screening table, interpolation may be used to determine the intermediate distance. Alternatively, you may use distance for the next higher diameter or pressure provided. However, this may substantially overstate the pipeline impact radius.
The material specific constant is multiplied by the pipeline pressure times the pipeline diameter squared, all that divided by the thermal feat flux threshold. The square root of the result will be the PIR.
Modified according to contents, the formulas are:
1 Distances are measured from the center of the pipeline to the site boundary.
A: The person producing the report must have the following qualifications:
For the purposes of evaluating the pipeline hazards, HUD does not require the engineer to be licensed in the state where the project is located, but they must affix their seal to the report. The engineer would need to be licensed in the state where the project is located for any proposed barriers or building features designed as mitigation under 9.6.19.B.4.
Beyond HUD requirements, a professional engineer or registered architect or other professional subject to state licensure or regulation of professional practice is always expected to meet the requirements for the state in which the property of concern is located. States may vary in both the degree of and the process for extending reciprocal recognition to professionals licensed in other states.
A: For high pressure pipelines carrying flammable or combustible liquids or gases, when site improvements proposed as part of the HUD-insured transaction are to be located within the screening distances listed in the tables in A.9.1.1, the engineering report may assess the likelihood of a pipeline release and projected resulting thermal radiation and blast overpressure risk to the project that are likely to occur based on factors including, but not limited to:
If this assessment is undertaken and determines, as evidenced by the engineering report affixed with the signature and seal of a qualified engineer, that the pipeline does not pose a risk to the HUD-insured project, no further mitigation is required.
If further assessment of the pipeline is not undertaken or cannot determine that the pipeline does not pose a risk to the project, the engineering report must identify measures that will mitigate the risk from thermal radiation, which, unless contraindicated by the engineering report, is assumed to exceed the goal of 450 Btu/ft2/hr within the distances listed in the tables in A.9.1.1.
2 In some cases, pipeline depth may be an adequate basis on which to determine that the facility does not pose a risk to the HUD-assisted site, depending on the amount and makeup of pipeline overburden. For initial screening based on pipeline depth prior to completion of a full engineering report, reviewers may contact Nelson Rivera directly at Nelson.A.Rivera@hud.gov, with a cc to Sara Jensen at Sara.Jensen@hud.gov.
3 For assistance with calculation of screening distances for high-pressure pipelines carrying substances not listed here, please contact Nelson Rivera directly at Nelson.A.Rivera@hud.gov, with a cc to Sara Jensen at Sara.Jensen@hud.gov.
A: The requirements at 9.6.19.B apply to any pressurized pipeline transferring flammable or combustible liquids and gases that exceed 200 psi operating pressure. The substances listed in the BPIR tables in Appendix A.9.1 of the MAP guide are those that are encountered most frequently, but other substances may also require analysis.
Common substances3 that could require analysis if they exceed 200 psi operating pressure include: natural gas; liquid petroleum (including crude oil and refined products made from crude oil such as gasoline, home heating oil, diesel fuel, aviation gasoline, jet fuels, and kerosene); liquefied ethylene; propane; butane; hydrogen; and some petrochemical feedstocks (ethylene, propylene butadiene, benzene, toluene, xylene, hexane, heptane).
A: This guidance provides additional example activities that are not subject to further environmental review because they fall under 24 CFR 50.19(b) as maintenance, engineering and design, inspection and testing, pre-development costs, purchase of equipment etc. This additional guidance should be used in conjunction with Notice CPD-16-02: Guidance for Categorizing an Activity as Maintenance for Compliance with HUD Environmental Regulations, 24 CFR Parts 50 and 58.
|Feature or System||Activities|
|Planning and Design||
|Windows and Doors||
|Interior Walls and Ceilings||