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FAQ

View commonly asked questions and answers about brownfield redevelopment.

What is a brownfield?

What is the EPA Brownfields Program?

How can brownfields be redeveloped?

What are the benefits of brownfield redevelopment?

What is TAB? 

Who can redevelop brownfields?

Can my site benefit from TAB?

What is the difference between an EPA assessment grant, revolving loan fund, and cleanup grants?

Who can apply for EPA grants?

What is SAM.gov?

What are the components of a grant proposal?

What happens after my site has been approved for funding?

What is the difference between a Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessment and why must they be performed?

What laws and regulations are specific to brownfields?

What are brownfield contaminants?



What is a brownfield?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a brownfield 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.” The challenge is to transform these properties into more attractive, useable sites. Brownfields can be found everywhere and vary in size, some examples include:

  • Vacant warehouses and factories
  • Abandoned railroads
  • Abandoned gas stations
  • Landfills
  • Parking lots
  • Formerly mined lands
  • Historic structures with potential contaminates (i.e., lead paint, asbestos, etc.)

What is the EPA Brownfields Program?

The EPA Brownfields Program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, and tribes to reuse and develop brownfields.  EPA has developed multiple tools to provide guidance to those interested in the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites.  The grants that are provided are the foundation of EPA’s Brownfields Program because of the revitalization support.  

By addressing available liability protections, EPA can assist those interested in brownfield clean up, reuse, or redevelopment. They have provided many resources to learn more about the liability concerns of cleanup and reuse. 

How can brownfields be redeveloped?

Brownfields can be redeveloped in many ways: old industrial buildings can be turned into new real estate; new building can occur on cleared sites; and community infrastructure and aesthetics can be improved by creating more greenspace.

What are the benefits of brownfield redevelopment?

  • Turn community health and safety liabilities into community assets
  • Create new, local jobs
  • Increase property values
  • Eliminate eyesores
  • Enhance economic/tax base development
  • Support sustainable use of land, by preserving Greenfields and preventing sprawl
  • Link economic vitality with environmental benefits
There are many environmental and economic benefits to brownfield redevelopment.  Brownfield sites are typically centrally located within a community and connect to existing infrastructure.  The redevelopment of existing sites reduces sprawl and the amount of impervious surface expansion along with many other environmental benefits.  Job and housing growth can be supported on brownfield sites which is an economic benefit. 

What is TAB? 

The Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) Program provides technical assistance to communities and stakeholders to help address their brownfield sites and to increase their understanding and involvement in brownfields cleanup, revitalization, and reuse.

TAB providers serve as a resource to communities, developers, and stakeholders, offering expertise and guidance on several brownfield related topics, including health impacts, site assessment, remediation, redevelopment, and reuse.

Region 3 TAB resources are available through West Virginia University.

Who can redevelop brownfields?

By collaborating, interested parties, or stakeholders, are instrumental in cleaning up contaminated properties and working on successful brownfield redevelopment. Stakeholders can be:

  • Local residents
  • Community groups and neighborhood associations
  • Private developers and consultants
  • Nonprofit organizations assisting in community development
  • State environmental agencies
  • Local government community and economic development departments

Can my site benefit from TAB?

If you are looking for brownfield education, resource identification, community engagement, local brownfields program support, project development, or design assistance, your project can benefit from TAB.

What is the difference between an EPA assessment grant, revolving loan fund, and cleanup grants?

Assessment grants provide funding to assess and clean up contaminated properties. They provide funding for the recipient to inventory, characterize, assess, conduct planning activities, develop clean up plans, and conduct community involvement.

Cleanup grants provide funding for cleanup activities at a single site or multiple sites owned by the applicant.

A revolving loan fund grant provides funding to provide loans and subgrants to carry out cleanup of brownfield sites. They are used to provide no-interest or low-interest loans for eligible brownfield cleanups, subgrants for cleanups, and other eligible programmatic costs.

Who can apply for EPA grants?

Eligibility varies based on the type of grant requested.

For assessment funding sources and revolving loan fund grants, state, local, and tribal government, general purpose units of local government, regional council or redevelopment agencies, and quasi-governmental agencies.

For cleanup grants, state, local, and tribal governments, general purpose units of local government, regional council or redevelopment agencies, quasi-governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and non-profit educational institutions are eligible. To be eligible, all entities must have sole ownership of the site.

For-profit organizations are not eligible for any brownfield grant funding from EPA.

What is SAM.gov?

The System for Award Management (SAM) is an official website of the U.S. government that is free of cost. This website allows you to register businesses with the U.S. government, update or renew your entity registration, check status of an entity registration, and search for entity registration and exclusion records. This account and number must be renewed every 12 months and it must be active when applying for grants.

What are the components of a grant proposal?  

  • Executive Summary or Abstract
  • Program Narrative
  • Problem or Need Statement
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Project Description
  • Evaluation
  • Budget
TAB can help review your grant and give you additional resources to help write your grant!

What happens after my site has been approved for funding?

Contact WVU TAB for further assistance!

What is the difference between a Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessment and why must they be performed?

Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) are typically conducted by a consultant who is hired by the property owner or someone who is interested in purchasing property. A Phase I investigates the historical use reviews and regulatory records to determine the likelihood of a site being contaminated. A Phase II assesses whether contamination is definitely present.

What laws and regulations are specific to brownfields?

Many brownfield laws and regulations have been put in place to maintain a healthy environment and economy. Examples and details of these acts can be found online.  Additionally, Region 3’s State and Tribal Response Programs Agreements are also available.

What are brownfield contaminants?

There are a plethora of hazardous materials that are commonly reported at brownfields that are undergoing cleanup.  Some examples include asbestos, lead, and arsenic.  Understanding a properties history makes it easier to identify contaminants at a site, which reduces economic and environmental concerns.

Contaminants at brownfield sites can create safety risks, social and economic issues, and overall environmental health issues. Communities should work with environmental regulators and public health agencies when dealing with brownfield sites. It is important to incorporate public health improvements while planning redevelop a brownfield site.