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Superfund Redevelopment Initiative

Sustainable Redevelopment at Superfund Sites

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EPA’s mission is to protect healthy communities and advance environmental protection. Through partnerships, programs and initiatives, the Agency is working to help places around the country develop in more environmentally and economically sustainable ways.

Communities nationwide are looking for new opportunities to sustain jobs and economic development, protect their natural resources and public health, and strengthen quality of life for all citizens.

The sections below highlight resources available to help incorporate sustainability tools and approaches into the Superfund redevelopment process. They provide information on a range of resources that can inform and support sustainable revitalization of Superfund sites. The below fact sheet also highlights innovative projects at Superfund sites that are supporting healthy, sustainable and equitable communities.

Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy Reuse at Superfund Sites  
Explore opportunities for Superfund sites to support renewable and alternative energy production, supporting jobs and diversifying local economies.

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Ecological Revitalization: Restoring Lands

Superfund cleanups protect and restore the environment as well as public health. Before natural systems at Superfund sites can support parks, wildlife habitat, farmland and forests, they often need to be restored to functioning and sustainable use. This process – increasing or improving habitat for plants and animals – is called ecological revitalization.

Restored ecosystems help people live healthier lives and have fun. Ecological revitalization improves soil health and supports diverse vegetation, sequesters carbon, protects air and water quality, and sets the stage for wildlife habitat and passive recreation opportunities, including hunting, hiking, biking, horseback riding and bird watching, as well as environmental education.

Additional Resources

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Smart Growth: Revitalizing Communities

Many Superfund sites are large enough to support several land uses, enabling communities to address multiple priorities. Smart growth and sustainable development approaches to mixed-use redevelopment provide benefits that extend beyond jobs, services and amenities. These collaborative efforts create walkable neighborhoods, convert renewable energy into power, provide access to public transportation, and strengthen quality of life for everyone.

Additional Resources

  • Smart Growth Program
    This EPA program provides research, tools, partnerships, case studies, grants and technical assistance to help communities grow in ways that expand economic opportunity and protect public health and the environment. "Smart Growth" seeks to preserve greenfields and encourages infill development where pre-existing infrastructure supports reuse.
  • Smart Growth Network 
    The Smart Growth Network is a partnership of government, business, and civic organizations that support smart growth. EPA is one of the founding partners of the network. Since its creation in late 1996, the network has become a clearinghouse for information about smart growth strategies.
  • Land Revitalization Program 
    Working with government agencies at the local, state and federal levels, EPA shares best practices and supports site assessments and reuse planning efforts at contaminated lands through this program to help facilitate successful results.
  • Sustainability Programs 
    This link provides access to all EPA efforts in the area of sustainability practices and approaches, including labeling green products and promoting green chemistry and engineering, managing materials rather than creating waste, using green infrastructure to manage storm water runoff, and supporting the sustainable design of communities.

Smart Growth Reuse Examples

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Recreation: Community Health and Wellness

There are many factors that influence the health of a community such as access to medical care, healthy food options, and community spaces that encourage healthy activities. EPA can help communities think about the future use of space for any number of purposes by performing a health and wellness assessment.

Parks and open space improve our physical and psychological health, strengthen our communities, and make our cities and neighborhoods more attractive places to live and work. Recreation opportunities located on Superfund sites include parks, playgrounds, trails, picnic areas, bird watching, sports fields, fishing ponds, model airplane flying fields, snow tubing, ice rinks and golf courses, to name a few.

Additional Resources

Recreation Reuse Examples

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Green Infrastructure: Thinking Regionally

As Superfund communities plan for redevelopment, many are incorporating innovative green infrastructure projects to naturally manage stormwater, provide trails and open space, and create wildlife habitat. In fact, the majority of SRI community support projects include elements of green infrastructure as part of Superfund site reuse plans. Green infrastructure performs many of the same functions as traditionally built infrastructure, often at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, these resources enhance community quality of life, providing clean water, agricultural soils and public parks and trails. Successful projects have demonstrated that an interconnected landscape system also provides a unique sense of place that attracts people, jobs and investment.

Green infrastructure planning at Superfund sites can look beyond site boundaries to improve or restore connections to natural resources, public parks and trails, while also incorporating on-site elements such as working with nature to manage stormwater through pervious paving and planting trees and shrubs along a creek edge.

Additional Resources

Green Infrastructure Reuse Examples

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Green Buildings and Sustainable Landscapes: Building Economies, Conserving Resources

Collaboration between EPA and communities has led to innovative green building projects and sustainable landscapes on Superfund sites nationwide. Green buildings showcase design and construction practices which minimize energy and water use and use environmentally friendly materials. Sustainable landscapes restore and recreate natural processes, enabling water conservation, water filtration and irrigation.

Green buildings and sustainable landscapes promote healthier living by increasing access to healthy food and safe walking/biking routes, enhancing recreational access and facilities, and engaging and educating communities through programming and activities like community gardening. Model redevelopment projects showcase a variety of methods for improving air, soil and water quality. By providing new habitats and reducing use of materials that impact native plant and animal populations, green buildings and sustainable landscapes support biological diversity and site stewardship. Greening formerly contaminated sites also supports economic revitalization through new jobs, amenities and services, recreational assets and housing.

Additional Resources

  • Green Building Programs
    EPA has a number of programs that provide resources to help people learn more about the components of green building and how to incorporate these green building concepts into different types of buildings.
  • U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)EXIT  
    Nonprofit organization with more than 8,000 member organizations working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. USGBC's membership includes private corporations, federal agencies, state and local governments, industry and professional associations, and nonprofit organizations, and encompasses 70 local chapters and affiliates nationwide.
  • Sustainable Sites InitiativeEXIT  
    An interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices.

Green Building Reuse Examples

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Environmental Education: Building Long-Term Capacities

Cleanup and restoration provides a window into environmental science, ecology and how natural systems work.

Many innovative Superfund reuses recognize and incorporate these stories as educational opportunities. Education areas, signage, boardwalks and trails, and interactive teaching materials turn sites into classrooms for local children and other community members. Renovating old buildings and preserving reminders of the past – equipment, tools, materials – brings the history of sites alive. Planting gardens provides education opportunities and increases community access to healthy, nutritious food.

These areas can also attract broader regional and national interest, supporting tourism and economic development, and link with surrounding recreation areas and neighborhoods, sustaining healthy communities.

Additional Resources

  • EPA Office of Environmental Education 
    EPA provides environmental education grants as well as resources for educators and students.
  • Superfund Classroom Materials 
    Resources to help teachers and students (grades 2-12) learn about the Superfund program. The website includes several activities, environmental cleanup videos, and a participatory program in which classrooms collect weather data for EPA.
  • Superfund Community Involvement Program 
    EPA provides assistance to communities through a variety of technical assistance and training resources. These resources help communities participate in Superfund decisions at sites in their community.
  • Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies: Project WILDEXIT  
    This nonprofit organization is a nationally recognized leader in environmental education, providing programs and services that promote responsible stewardship of natural resources.

Environmental Education Reuse Examples

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