Green Tech Chatter: Brownfields And Cleantech

If you’ve ever wondered why empty lots where factories, gas stations or other industrial businesses once stood are left barren, you’re not alone. They seem like ideal places for new businesses and new venues of technology, but it’s not always that simple. Many of these places are known as brownfields, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines as a piece of property whose reuse “may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” Dangerous chemicals can seep into the soil, for example, and often cleanup is more costly for a business venture than simply building a new site elsewhere. Basically, brownfields are dead spaces.

The National Brownfield Association reports that there may be as many as a million brownfields in the US, and their real estate value, if not for the contaminants, could total at up to $2 trillion.

Brownfield

image via Shutterstock

But it’s far from hopeless. In 1995, the EPA initiated the Brownfields Program, which provides funding and training to clean up contaminated land for reuse. Taking it a step further, they launched RE-Powering America’s Land in 2008, which provides initiatives for companies redeveloping brownfields to use renewable and clean energy wherever possible. Brownfield sites are also being sought out by greentech companies, particularly solar companies, for whom the sites are ideal for things like photovoltaic facilities due to the fact that many brownfields, especially ones that were once factories or landfills, are large, flat areas without much blockage by trees or buildings.

Here are some interesting links we found in regards to brownfields and cleantech futures for those lands:

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.