What do you do with land that is contaminated with hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants? There are 450,000 such sites, known as “brownfields”, in the United States. Typically, these properties were polluted by industrial and commercial operations that, once closed, leave behind a mess for local authorities and communities to address. Cleaning up contamination on these sites can be expensive and can create various liability issues. So these sites often sit vacant for years, further damaging the environment and harming the health of the surrounding community, both literally, and figuratively by lowering the property value and increasing crime.
Yet these brownfield sites hold tremendous opportunities for communities. The US Environmental Protection Agency has found that cleaning up brownfields has been transformational at multiple levels. The redevelopment of brownfields can help to beautify communities, create jobs, generate taxes, provide important community services and act as a catalyst to revitalize neighborhoods. Brownfield redevelopment projects thus far have leveraged more than 97,000 jobs nationwide and increased residential property values from 5.1 percent to 12.8 percent.