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Brownfield Basics, What Is A Brownfield? How Definitions Matter

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

Brownfield Solar 101 (BFS101) - Part One


We use our expertise in environmental site remediation and solar development to resolve the challenges most often responsible for delaying the redevelopment of landfills, Superfund sites and BROWNFIELDS, which leads us to....

What is a Brownfield?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a brownfield as “a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. It’s important to remember, however, that many states have their own, unique definition of a brownfield. The USEPA estimates that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S.


Is the definition of a Brownfield important?

Whether a specific site meets the definition of a brownfield can be important. There are a wide range of programs that could be available to brownfields, including grants, tax credits, technical oversight, liability protections and voluntary cleanup designations. Those programs will dictate whether your site needs to meet a specific brownfield definition in order to be eligible. For example, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) runs the Brownfield Cleanup Program, the goal of which is to encourage private-sector cleanups of brownfields and to promote their redevelopment as a means to revitalize economically blighted communities. The DEC’s application process and site eligibility requirements are detailed on its website. The Certificate of Completion issued by DEC when a BCP project is remediated and complete makes the Applicant eligible to apply for BCP tax credits.



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