According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a brownfield is defined as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse or which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”
But in simpler terms, a brownfield is just land (previously developed for commercial or industrial purposes) that has possibly been compromised by something harmful. The contamination in a brownfield occurs in low concentrations, sort of a step below a Superfund.
Brownfields are extremely common. They are located all throughout the country, and while it’s certainly possible to find one in a residential or suburban area, you’re much more likely to come across a brownfield in an urban area. The United States General Accounting Office estimates that there are as many as 425,000 brownfields in the United States – though coming up with an accurate number is a difficult task, as many brownfield property owners aren’t aware of their property’s true status.
The good news – especially if you’ve just learned that your property qualifies – is that brownfields can be redeveloped. There are several environmental clean-up methods available that can sufficiently restore the property for future commercial usage, though it requires the participation of many different organizations, both private and public. Potential participants include: state environmental agencies, state economic development and planning agencies, local government agencies, developers, commercial lenders, technical consultants, real estate professionals, local community development corporations, legal counsel, and federal government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
It’s hard for a brownfield property owner to get a handle on what their redevelopment project will look like without first hiring an outside party to conduct an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), a step that will reveal the type and severity of contamination. Once you have been armed with this vital information, you can consider your options for remediation and redevelopment.
Brownfield remediation and redevelopment is work, but it brings with it some serious benefits. It can lead to job creation, revitalizing the economy of local communities, and expanding the tax base. Federal and state programs have emerged to help developers with programs that offer technical assistance, liability protection, funding for ESAs, regulatory guidance, tax incentives, and cleanup.
Providing you with information is just one of the ways that Environmental Remediation Experts can assist you. If you have a brownfield that needs remediation, or have other environmental remediation challenges, give us a call today at (888) 995-2143.
This article originally appeared on the Hazardous Waste Experts blog.