What is a Greenfield?
A Greenfield is undeveloped real estate or land with no previous use. Many also consider a property only used for light agricultural purposes to be a greenfield. An undeveloped property may yet have environmental contamination—if, for example, it is adjacent to a property that is leaking hazardous substances across the property boundary—but such a property would not be considered a Greenfield and would be better classified as a Brownfield (or possibly a Redfield).
Properties can look like Greenfields, but hide an old, dirty and potentially dangerous industrial history. In many areas of the United States, the land has been in production for multiple centuries. Large scale commercial and industrial uses played big parts in the economy in the American colonies from early on. What looks like a Greenfield today may hide an intense legacy as a munitions factory in the Revolution, for example, under a hundred years of foliage.
For this reason, most real estate attorneys recommend a proper property investigation be performed prior to any purchase—the “brownfield ABC rule.” Performing a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is the common standard report relied on for environmental due diligence in the U.S. This minimum standard report may reveal no development history, or it may recommend further investigation. Phase I ESA’s are routine elements of nearly all commercial real estate transactions, often required for financing, insurance or other reasons.
See how to tag your property or project as a Greenfield by learning How to List or how to Get Started.
Find more definitions in the Brownfield Listings Terminology and discover all the tags you can use to best describe the conditions on your property—or tag as experience on your Profile—in the BL Taxonomy.