Prepared by Edison Wetlands Association All information in this document is proprietary and requires consent to release. Following is a summary of the issues discussed in EWA’s Brownfields-to-Greenfields Policy Paper.
What are Brownfields?
The USEPA defines brownfields as real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are approximately 450,000 brownfield sites across America and 10,000 brownfield sites in the state of New Jersey.
What are Greenfields?
Greenfields can be defined as the conversion of brownfield sites to open space, for the purposes of conservation, wildlife enhancement, and/or public recreation. Brownfield-to-Greenfield conversion, particularly in older suburban and urban centers, should be an essential component to all Smart Growth, Environmental Justice and Children’s Health initiatives.
The Benefits of Greenfields
With Brownfields disproportionately located in urban areas, many children disproportionately suffer from health problems like asthma and obesity. Greenfields not only reduce public exposure to harmful contaminants, they provide benefits ranging from improving water and air quality to controlling flooding.
In many urban neighborhoods, contaminated sites represent the only open space available. Greenfield conversion speaks to the heart of the Environmental Justice movement by improving environmental quality, revitalizing neighborhoods and rejuvenating community participation to create sustainable, livable urban areas.
A wide range of species, including federally threatened and endangered species, utilize the damaged sites that make up brownfields. Converting these sites to greenfields enhances wildlife habitat and provides a refuge in heavily urbanized areas. Because of our industrial past, many contaminated sites are located along waterways, and greenfields components are particularly important on these ecologically sensitive areas.
Many underserved communities lack open space. Creating greenspace contributes to a safe and vibrant community by providing much-needed community recreation options and allowing children to maintain an active lifestyle. Greenfields located along waterways create new waterfront access for the public.
Greenfields serve as valuable economic assets by making neighborhoods more attractive to potential residents and businesses, thus raising property values and increasing local investment. These improvements, in turn, create jobs and increase tax revenue. The economic benefits grow with time, as do the financial savings from improved community health due to greenfields conversion.