New EPA Booklet on How to Improve Local Economies with Brownfield Sites
EPA’s latest primer, Brownfields: Properties with New Purpose, will inspire local land recycling with real examples of brownfield redevelopment from every U.S. EPA region.
Long the beneficiary of robust bipartisan support in Congress, the highly effective and recently renewed U.S. EPA Brownfield Grant Program awards merit-based, competitively-awarded funding to communities for assessment, cleanup, and planning activities. These early-stage redevelopment actions are essential to encouraging market growth and sparking real estate investment in local communities. Though relatively small, the catalytic Brownfield Grants provides first-step funding necessary to unlock a brownfield site’s redevelopment potential.
Without this type of seed funding to kick-start momentum, brownfields risk languishing into development limbo where they can languish for years and decades. Hundreds of thousands of brownfields lay in limbo today, and millions of properties in the U.S. will cross the brownfield threshold in their development life cycle.
By design, U.S. EPA’s Brownfields Program empowers states, tribes, communities and other stakeholders to work together to assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields—and to prevent prevent brownfields from falling into dangerous conditions of abandon and disrepair. And to facilitate the leveraging of public resources in these programs, EPA collaborates with other federal partners and state agencies to identify and make available resources that can be used to maximize brownfield redevelopment opportunities when they arise.
EPA’s essential and collaborative land revitalization efforts emphasize the need to consider the anticipated property reuse prior to and during assessment and cleanup. That is, to work backwards from the property’s end-use to determine the best site prep and cleanup plan. Integrating property reuse alternatives into assessment and cleanup decisions ensures that the environmental cleanup for all types of contaminated land, from abandoned industrial facilities to waste disposal sites and former gas stations, promotes solutions that support community revitalization goals.
After a generation of programmatic success, it is becoming better understood how revitalizing brownfield sites creates benefits broadly distributed throughout the community. And the benefits of the Brownfields Program are also well documented.
EPA’s new booklet, Brownfields: Properties with New Purpose, is a compendium of redevelopment facts. Since 1995, EPA’s Brownfields Program has cleaned up 1,816 properties; attracted 144,800 jobs, and made 80,952 acres ready for anticipated reuse. Through fiscal year 2018, on average, $16.86 was leveraged for each EPA dollar invested via the Brownfields Program. And an enviable 8.6 jobs leveraged per $100,000 of EPA brownfields funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
Brownfield sites tend to have greater location efficiency than alternative development scenarios. Results of five pilot studies show a 32% to 57% reduction in vehicle miles traveled when development occurred at a brownfield site rather than a previously undeveloped site. Fewer vehicle miles traveled means a reduction in pollution emissions, including greenhouse gases. These same site comparisons show an estimated 47% to 62% reduction of stormwater runoff for brownfield site development.
A 2017 study concluded that cleaning up brownfield properties led to residential property value increases of 5% to 15.2% within 1.29 miles of the sites. Analyzing data near 48 of those brownfield sites, another study found an estimated $29 to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites. Initial anecdotal surveys indicate a reduction in crime in recently revitalized brownfields areas.
Below are a select group of project examples featured in Brownfields: Properties with New Purpose that highlight the accomplishments of EPA Brownfield Grant recipients across the country. These accomplishments include transforming brownfield sites to positively impact local economies and improve the quality of life for neighboring communities.
Farnum Center - Manchester, New Hampshire
Union Station - Springfield, Massachusetts
Camden Labs - Camden, New Jersey
Berry Lane Park - Jersey City, New Jersey
Roxian Theater - McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania
Three Springs Business Park - Weirton, West Virginia
Creative Village - Orlando, Florida
Encore Project - Tampa, Florida
New Center District - Detroit, Michigan
Wade McCree Estates - Ecorse, Michigan
Hooghan Hòzho - Gallup, New Mexico
Texas Musicians Museum and Neon Armadillo Restaurant - Irving, Texas
Bee Branch Creek Greenway - Dubuque, Iowa
West Haymarket - Lincoln, Nebraska
Oak Park Theatre - Minot, North Dakota
Town of Dubois - Dubois, Wyoming
Pueblo Viejo Fields Project - Phoenix, Arizona
William N. Pennington Life Center - Fallon, Nevada
Public Safety Center - Beaverton, Oregon
Port of Skagit - Burlington, Washington (Site is in Sedro-Woolly, Washington)
Riverfront Park - Spokane, Washington
For project details, brownfield facts and more, read and download Brownfields: Properties with New Purpose here >>