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Community Initiatives

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Methfields

Clandestine drug labs are an increasing problem in the United States. Once seen as only a rural issue in western states, drug labs—specifically methamphetamine labs (or meth labs)—are multiplying throughout the nation and becoming a major social, economic, and public health concern. Due to this growing national concern, Congress made properties contaminated by controlled substances, such as methamphetamine, eligible for Brownfields funding. Although Brownfields redevelopment is not the primary solution to the emerging drug lab issue, the Brownfields Program can provide funding and technical assistance to assist in addressing the growing problem.

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Housing/Residential Reuse

In addition to restoring former commercial and industrial sites into similar facilities, the EPA Brownfields Program facilities brownfields redevelopment for residential uses. Residential developments range from high-end new housing to affordable housing involving partners such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Home Loan Bank. Typically, the property developer works with the state, often as part of a state Voluntary Cleanup Program, to ensure that contamination at the property being redeveloped does not exceed state residential contamination levels, which are more stringent than commercial or industrial contamination levels. Redeveloping brownfields into new residential space complements the recent nationwide shift from rural to urban relocation – reducing urban sprawl and protecting greenspace.

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Smart Growth

The occurrence of urban sprawl and non-sustainable development has become a growing concern for communities across the nation. The concept of smart growth recognizes the connections between development and quality of life, leveraging new growth that complements the area while revitalizing underutilized and abandoned brownfields in established communities. Smart growth helps to protect open space and prime agricultural lands. The features that define smart growth vary from place to place and community to community. In general, smart growth invests time, attention, and resources in restoring vitality to center cities and older suburbs. Successful communities tend to have one common thread – a vision of the future and an understanding of what is important to their communities.

Smart growth is development that serves the economy, the community, and the environment. It changes the terms of the development debate away from the traditional growth/no growth question to "how and where should new development be accommodated."

Brownfields redevelopment is an integral component to smart growth. By redeveloping a brownfield in an older city or suburban neighborhood, a community can remove blight and environmental contamination, create a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization, lessen development pressure at the urban edge, and use existing infrastructure.

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Groundwork Trusts

The Groundwork Trusts are independent, not-for-profit, environmental businesses that work with communities to improve their environment, economy, and quality of life through local action.The Groundwork USA program is built on partnership and linked together by the Groundwork USA national office, with support from the EPA Brownfields Program and the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.

Groundwork USA helps people reuse brownfields for community benefit. Because the goal of most publicly funded programs is to reuse brownfields for economic development, many brownfields sites are being left behind because they are too small, surrounded by blight, or located in areas with other constraints, such as flood plains or dense residential neighborhoods. Groundwork Trusts are working to fill the gap.

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Environmental Justice

Environmental justice is achieved when everyone, regardless of race, culture, or income, enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment. No group of people, including a racial, ethnic, or a socioeconomic group, should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and policies. Brownfields revitalization presents an opportunity for environmental justice to be achieved through community involvement in cleanup and reuse decisions and activities and through the leveraging of new investment and jobs in distressed communities.

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Sustainability & Public Health

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Please email comments on this website to:Brownfields-Web-Comments@epamail.epa.gov


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