Can you dig it? Minnesota looks at potential for greater reuse of regulated fill soils.

States around the U.S. have different regulations governing how regulated (contaminated) fill soils at redevelopment sites are managed, and whether they can be reused. The most common practice is what’s called “dig and dump”, or excavating soils with contaminant concentrations in exceedance of permitted levels, then hauling those soils to an area landfill to use as daily cover. Problem solved, right? Turns out, not exactly.

Hauling regulated soil to landfills is expensive. For many Minnesota metro-area redevelopment projects receiving brownfield grant funds, up to 100% of grant funding is sometimes used just for dig and dump. Given that most brownfield grant programs are oversubscribed, this is concerning. Furthermore, trucks transporting the fill soils to often remote landfills result in additional vehicle miles traveled. Elsewhere around the world, countries like Great Britain are at or nearing landfill capacity and have had to find other solutions to this problem. Meanwhile, in Minnesota there are redevelopment projects occurring in close proximity where Site A has excess soils, and Site B requires additional soils. Depending on the characteristics of the fill soils, there is the hypothetical possibility to transfer regulated soils between the sites. There could be tremendous cost savings and reduced truck traffic realized in such a scenario.

Minnesota Brownfields has studied current redevelopment practices to measure the economic and environmental cost of dig and dump. Since 2015, Minnesota Brownfields has been meeting regularly with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to consider policy revisions to allow regulated fill reuse at redevelopment sites, if certain conditions are met to ensure protection of human health and the environment. Those who work in redevelopment know that MPCA already has a policy in place to enable regulated fill reuse. Without liability protection, the policy — though well-intended — just hasn’t been used. So the current discussion is focused on providing liability protection for both the exporting and importing site. While we aren’t there yet, a change to MN Statutes is being considered to address this issue.

Want to learn more? Read more about our soil reuse study here. Or join us on Tuesday, July 18 at the State of Brownfields Update in Minneapolis, where Amy Hadiaris of MPCA and attorney Sara Peterson will present potential policy and changes. To learn more about how soil reuse works elsewhere in the world, attend the EPA Brownfields Conference December 5-7 in Pittsburgh, where Sara Peterson will moderate a panel discussion with representatives from the United Kingdom and Province of Ontario.

Vapor Intrusion Forum Series

Join Minnesota Brownfields for analysis of the latest changes and challenges related to vapor intrusion at brownfield sites. Session Two features more current case studies and a panel featuring diverse practitioner perspectives on the most challenging aspects of this still-evolving field.

Watch the forum here!

Session Two: Learning from Implementation
Wednesday, March 1, 2017 – College of St. Catherine, St. Paul (Note: Venue Change)

Session Two presentations:
BMPs for Vapor Intrusion- Part 2– MPCA
Closed Petroleum Sites: Bringing Some Perspective– Bay West
Vapor Intrusion Mitigation– Braun Intertec
Vapor Mitigation Case Studies– Wenck

March 1
8:30am-12pm (Check in begins at 7:30 a.m.)
Rauenhorst Ballroom (in Coeur de Catherine)
College of St. Catherine
2004 Randolph Avenue
St Paul (Campus Map)

Parking is in overflow guest parking lot.  Enter at gate #4 on Fairview Avenue (shared driveway with Carondelet Village).  Park in the parking lot on the left.  Follow the sidewalk on the West end of the parking lot – near the tennis courts – to the Coeur de Catherine Building.  The Ballroom is on the 3rd floor.


3/1 Registration List – current as of February 24

March 1 (Session Two) Speakers & Moderators:
Aaron Benker Wenck
Del Ehrich Faegre Baker Daniels
Donovan Hannu Bay West
Steve Jansen Braun Intertec
David Liverseed Mortenson Construction
Chris McLain Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Hans Neve Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Jason Skramstad Landmark Environmental
Chris Thompson Braun Intertec

1.75 Standard CLE Credits Approved

Members –  $60
Non-members –  $105

Program questions? Please contact Martha Faust at 651-307-4371.

Registration questions? Please contact Molly Boynton at 612-710-8694.

Not sure if you or your organization are a member? Contact Angela Tangen at 612-710-0160.


Session One: Going Beyond the Basics
February 2, 2017 – Wilder Center, St. Paul

Regulations and BMPs – MPCA
Air Quality & Health Screening Methods– Department of Health
Vapor Intrusion and Building Design– Braun Intertec
VI Sampling/Testing Methodology– Pace Analytical, Braun Intertec
Case Study, Commercial Site With Active Mitigation– Barr Engineering


Thank you to our sponsors






Member Happy Hour

Flat Earth Brewing
Thursday, February 23
4:30- 6:30pm
688 Minnehaha Ave E
St Paul, MN (map)

This event is free, drinks can be purchased individually. RSVP here.

BONUS! Flat Earth Brewing hosts open mic night starting at 7:00pm. Stick around and test your brownfield stand-up comedy skills.

This is a new benefit for our Community Council members only. Not sure if you’re a member? Visit our website or contact Angela Tangen at 612-710-0160.

GreenStep Cities + Brownfields 101

Join Minnesota Brownfields and GreenStep Cities for a discussion on brownfield redevelopment in Minnesota

Wednesday February 1
9:00- 11:00am
League of Minnesota Cities (map)
Register here or click here to register for the webinar.

This workshop will take a closer look at Best Practice 25: Green Business Development, with a special focus on action 5, which addresses previously developed or contaminated lands called brownfields.


  • Natalie Brown from Minnesota Brownfields,
  • Shanna Schmitt from the MPCA,
  • Janice Gundlach from the City of New Brighton, and
  • Kristin Lukes from DEED.

Our speakers will describe what brownfields are, the difficulties and opportunities that they provide, and how cities can use their brownfields in useful, sustainable projects.

This workshop is part of the 2016-2017 GreenStep Cities Workshop Series. Keep an eye out for more information about upcoming sessions and topics! The workshops are held on the first Wednesday of every month, from 9-11am at the League of Minnesota Cities. Coffee from Peace Coffee and light refreshments will be served at each workshop. Click here to view resources from last year’s workshop series, and click here to view resources from workshops that were held earlier in this series.

Brownfield Gap Financing Program Informational Session

Join Minnesota Brownfields and Hennepin County as we discuss the Brownfield Gap Financing Program for 2017. A short speaker series including MN Brownfields, Hennepin County, and Project for Pride in Living will be followed by a question and answer session.

The Brownfield Gap Financing program (BGFP) provides grants to nonprofit developers for environmental assessment of property in Hennepin County through funding from the County’s Environmental Response Fund (ERF). This fund is intended to be used for unexpected environmental issues, to prepare for a larger funding request in the County funding cycle, or to identify/clarify and, in some cases, remediate suspected environmental concerns. Typical BGFP grants are <$15,000, grants are made on a rolling basis.

More information on the program can be found here.


Thu, January 12, 2017

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM CST


Sumner Library
611 Van White Memorial Boulevard
Minneapolis, MN 55411

This event is FREE
Register here

2016 ReScape Awards

Aria, Minneapolis
Thursday, November 17, 2016
5:00 – 7:30 pm

Purchase tickets here.

Vote for your favorite project from past finalists here!

View recent finalists.

See this year’s sponsors.

ReScape Trophy

Join Minnesota Brownfields and members of Minnesota’s redevelopment community in celebrating finalist projects demonstrating innovation, collaboration, and exemplary results in revitalizing formerly contaminated land. The program features four project awards and one individual award:

  • Community Impact Award
  • Economic Impact Award
  • Environmental Impact Award
  • Small City Impact Award
  • Mac Hyde Brownfield Leadership Award

The 2016 ReScape Awards media partner is


We are excited to announce our keynote speaker for ReScape 2016! 

dlloydphoto-1David Lloyd is the Director of the Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization in the EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. Mr. Lloyd assumed this position in January of 2006. Prior to this, he held a variety of positions in the areas of private and Government legal practice, real estate operations, and development. Mr. Lloyd received his undergraduate degree from George Washington University and a law degree from Washington and Lee University in 1988.

Community Conversations: West Side Flats Greenway

On Tuesday, the first community meeting for the West Side Flats Greenway took place at the Neighborhood House/Wellstone Center in St. Paul. Attendees were greeted by project members and asked to participate in a number of activities relevant to the planning process. People were asked to write about what they saw for the space in ten years and to vote on their ideal space designs. With this process there were pictures of various gathering space concepts, water features, park types, bench styles, and activities displayed where each person voted for their two favorites in each category.

The theme of community input was apparent throughout the meeting and was especially salient because the green space is all about designing for function and amenity.

The West Side Flats Study Area is approximately 120 acres and is located directly across the Mississippi River from downtown Saint Paul; situated between the river, Plato Boulevard, Wabasha Street, and Lafayette Road. The proposed Greenway is located along a working rail line that divides the Study Area.

The Study Area was funded through multiple grants including U.S. EPA Brownfields Areawide Planning. Through this grant, Minnesota Brownfields was brought on as a partner to help inform the community about the role of brownfields in redevelopment planning for the West Side Flats. The Areawide grant  enables planners to assess not just the proposed study area but the area around it for an expanded, holistic, next-gen approach to planning. The site of the Greenway has soil contamination in the form of unregulated fill (cinders, brick, black top, and sand) which is not toxic along with a small area of arsenic cleanup.

Throughout the presentations there was a theme of returning back to the Flats as the immigrant population that once lived there was removed due to flooding. The vision for the West Side Flats is a mixed use urban village for all with the Greenway as the most prominent green space in the neighborhood. The Greenway will be part of a larger amenity complex with connections to a river walk and bike trails to make the park a multiuse amenity for residents.westsideflatsvote

However, there are a number of challenges that come with this project as well, the most important being the creative use of limited space. The area for the Greenway will not just be a park but a stormwater management site. There will be a stormwater pond to protect the area which is designed to withstand five year floods while also being a stormwater treatment area. Making this limited space a successful water management system and an appealing park able to support a large population is further compounded by the presence of the railroad and the existence of utilities that cannot be built on or have trees on as access is still needed. These challenges are daunting but involving community in the design process will help the community understand the process.

The West Side Flats Greenway is using a stacked-function green infrastructure concept where private property owners are partnering with the City of Saint Paul to use green design to manage stormwater runoff, reduce sewer overflows, and improve water quality. Barr Engineering is coordinating master planning for the stormwater functions of the Greenway. The City itself is implementing the process in a different way as the maintenance, operation, and assessment of the site is being done through multiple department partnerships instead of one department and is a learning process for all.

This meeting was all about helping the community understand the potential for the space along with the challenges that come along with it. Minnesota Brownfields was on hand to give insights into how projects like this have been handled in the past and what kinds of remediation need to be done at this area in particular. The next community meeting will be in 6 to 8 weeks where Barr Engineering will bring in proposals for the community to learn about and discuss.

2016 State of Brownfields Update

Our 9th annual State of Brownfields Update was June 28, 2016. The program included A Look Back: 10 years of Minnesota Brownfields, updates from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and more.

Sandeep Burman– Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Deborah DeLuca – Duluth Seaway Port Authority
Ken Haberman – Landmark Environmental
Wayne Nelson – retired (formerly Metropolitan Council)
Kristina Smitten – Hillcrest Development
Cathy Villas-Horns – Minnesota Department of Agriculture

See the agenda here.

Minnesota Real Estate Journal – Redevelopment Summit

Minnesota Brownfields hosted the Minnesota Real Estate Journal‘s 2016 Redevelopment Summit on May 19. Click the links below to access speaker presentations:

How Redevelopment Supports a Strong Regional Economy – Cecile Bedor, GREATER MSP

Surburban Redevelopment: Northern Stacks 1 – From Blight to Office Development in Fridley
Scott Hickok, City of Fridley
Paul Hyde, Hyde Development
Chris Thompson, Braun Intertec

Hot Neighborhoods: University Avenue Innovation District – A Tale of Two Cities
Brandon Champeau, United Properties
John Evans, Hennepin County
Dick Gilyard, Prospect Park
Julie Kimble, Kimble Consulting

Greater Minnesota Redevelopment: Spotlight on Mankato
Kristin Prososki, City of Mankato

How To: Rules and Tools that Enable Redevelopment on Brownfields
Shanna Schmitt, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Kristin Lukes, Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development
Martha Faust, Minnesota Brownfields

Stormwater Management on Brownfields

Stormwater Management on Brownfields

Minnesota Brownfields looked into stormwater management on brownfield sites, during and after remediation. This event covered topics including:

  • Regulations and enforcement
  • Emerging issues, new technology, and green infrastructure
  • Subsurface Contamination- groundwater and soil
  • Liability and Concerns for Plume and Vapor Intrusion
  • Long term management vs management during construction
  • Successes, headaches and challenges on diverse case study sites: Atlas Cement (Duluth), Beacon Bluff (St. Paul), and Prospect Park (Minneapolis)

Ross Bintner, City of Edina
Nathan Campeau, Barr Engineering
Eric Dott, Barr Engineering

Dan Fetter, Barr Engineering
Mary Finch, Hennepin County
Mike Hayman, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District
Rebecca Higgins, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Monte Hilleman, St. Paul Port Authority
Dan Kalmon, Mississippi Watershed Management Authority
Joe Otte, Wenck Associates

Jeff Shopek, Loucks Associates 
Shawn Tracy, HR Green
Mike Trojan, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Michael Welch, Smith Partners

See the agenda here.

Presentations from 2012 are available here:
Stormwater basics for the non-stormwater expert
Brownfields basics

Wednesday, April 13, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Barr Engineering, Edina (directions)
Lunch options near Barr Engineering

Members: $35
Non-members: $65
Greater Minnesota: free
Students: $15

See the attendee list here. For questions regarding registration, please contact Molly Boynton via email.


New Paper & Fact Sheets Highlight Economic, Environmental, and Social Benefits of Brownfield Redevelopment in Minnesota


Contact: Natalie Brown
Program Coordinator
Minnesota Brownfields

SAINT PAUL, MINN.—(April 22, 2015)—A newly-published report by Minnesota Brownfields, Benefits of Brownfield Redevelopment shares how redevelopment of idled, contaminated commercial industrial properties can lead Minnesota’s communities to economic growth and community revitalization while improving the environment. Three fact sheets summarize the work.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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”. A total of 77,502 acres (or 121 square miles) have been enrolled in Minnesota Pollution Control Agency programs since 1995, an area greater than the combined area of the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul (114 square miles). Despite this progress, Minnesota Brownfields conservatively estimates that at least 10,000 brownfield sites remain in Minnesota, concentrated in urban areas but found in nearly every community throughout the state. The report shows that redeveloping brownfields creates and retains jobs, increases local tax base, and enables efficient reuse of existing infrastructure.

Substantial environmental benefits result from reusing brownfield properties. Brownfield redevelopment reduces transportation-related vehicle miles travelled, greenhouse gas emissions per capita by 20-57% relative to conventional greenfield development. Redevelopment projects also produce substantially less stormwater runoff, and reduce air emissions by 32-57% relative to greenfield developments.

Finally, brownfield sites allow Minnesota’s communities to respond to increasing market preference by millennials, baby boomers, and seniors for vibrant, walkable communities with transportation choices, jobs, and urban amenities. “Minnesota has long been a leader in recycling brownfields for new uses while protecting the environment. We have a fantastic opportunity now to re-purpose contaminated sites into new housing, jobs, and greenspace to meet the needs of tomorrow’s residents and workers”, said Martha Faust, Executive Director of Minnesota Brownfields.



About Minnesota Brownfields:

Minnesota Brownfields is a 501-c3 nonprofit organization. Founded in 2006, its mission is to promote, through education, research, and partnerships, the efficient cleanup of brownfield redevelopment as a means of generating economic growth, strengthening communities and enabling sustainable land use and development.

2015 EPA Brownfields Conference Announcing Sessions Soon

About 60 redevelopment professionals gathered in Washington, DC last week to review abstracts for the 2015 EPA Brownfields Conference.  I joined a small group in the Creating More Sustainable Communities track. Our group was impressed by excellent proposals from around the country spanning topics ranging from climate change, to green infrastructure, renewable energy, public benefit reuse, urban agriculture, and smart growth. It made our work more challenging, but in the end I think we came up with a strong list of offerings. And it was a great networking opportunity for Minnesota Brownfields.

The EPA will soon announce selected sessions within the next month. If your organization is considering purchasing an exhibit booth, please do so soon. Given the smaller conference venue, exhibit space and hotel rooms are expected to fill up quickly. Natalie Brown and I are now registered to attend the conference.  Are you?

Request for Qualifications- Hennepin County ERF Brownfields Gap Financing Program

View the Request for Qualifications here.

Minnesota Brownfields requests qualifications and fee schedules from environmental consulting firms for the assessment and cleanup of properties known or suspected of being impacted by pollutants, contaminants, or hazardous waste. Requests will be considered from companies that have an executed Master Agreement for Professional Consulting Services with Hennepin County for the work types Asbestos, Lead Paint, and Regulated Building Materials Assessment and Removal Oversight, and/or Environmental Property Assessment and Cleanup; and are a member of Minnesota Brownfields.

The Brownfield Gap Financing Program (BGFP) provides small grants to nonprofits for environmental assessment and clean-up of property in Hennepin County through funding from the Environmental Response Fund (ERF). This fund is intended to assist projects that will benefit the community through the development or clean-up of greenspace, recreation centers, affordable housing, education centers, community centers, and neighborhood level economic development opportunities.

More information about the BGFP and past project examples can be found here.

Requests must be submitted by 12:00 noon on Thursday, March 5th. See the RFQ for more submittal details.

EPA Brownfields 2015 Conference

Brownfields 2015 will be held in Chicago September 2-4, 2015.   I attended a local planning committee meeting in Chicago on November 12 along with 70 other representatives from throughout EPA Region V.  What I learned:

  • Downtown Chicago will be center-stage with conference sessions split between the Hilton Chicago and the nearby Palmer House Hilton.  The Hilton Chicago has 5200 rooms (hint: don’t wait to book your room).  Hotel info will be available in December.
  • Regardless of conference location, Region V sends more attendees than any other EPA Region (yay, Region V!).
  • The highest EPA Brownfields conference attendance was in Detroit in 2009 (7000+ attendees).
  • 500-600 conference session ideas are expected by the December 8 deadline.  Learn more here.
  • The 2015 conference will feature more educational sessions than ever.  Mobile workshops will all occur on September 1.

With the spectacular City of Chicago as a backdrop, it should be a great conference.  To learn more, visit the EPA Brownfields 2015 conference website.

ReScape Award Finalists Announced for 2014

Twelve finalists were selected by panels of independent judges for the 2014 Minnesota Brownfield ReScape Awards. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Thursday, October 23rd.






Mission Investors Exchange National Conference: Brownfields Bus Tour of East St. Paul

On May 14th, Martha Faust, the Executive Director of Minnesota Brownfields, along with Scott Marquardt organized a tour of remediated brownfield sites on the East Side of St. Paul for a group of participants in the Mission Investors Exchange National Conference.  The bus tour visited a number of sites in the East Side, including Beacon Bluff, Baldinger Bakery, Urban Organics at the Hamm’s Brewery, and the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.

The first stop was Beacon Bluff, the former 3M world headquarters that was acquired by the St. Paul Port Authority in 2009.  Since then, the site has been cleaned up and is now being sold in parcels for redevelopment by private companies.  Next, the tour visited Baldinger Bakery, a state-of-the-art industrial bakery that produces buns and rolls for McDonald’s and Arby’s.  The LEED Silver certified building is remarkably efficient, recovering heat from the oven stack to power itself and reduce the need for conventional electricity.

The third stop was Urban Organics, a year-round organic farm based in the former Hamm’s Brewery.  In partnership with Pentair, Urban Organics uses an aquaponic system to grow greens and tilapia.  In this way, the fish waste provides nourishment for the vegetables and the vegetables in turn clean the water for the fish.  The operations at Urban Organics are highly efficient, using just 2% of the water used in conventional farming, and have provided a base for further re-use of the Hamm’s Brewery site.

The last stop of the tour was the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, a 27-acre park in the Mississippi River floodplain on former industrial and railroad land.  The park that stands there today is the result of a collaborative effort between the Lower Phalen Creek Project, the Trust for Public Land, and the City of St. Paul.  Not only does the park provide green space for residents of the East Side, but also its trails connect throughout the East Side as part of the Bruce Vento Regional Trail.

The following video presents highlights of the bus tour:

Soil Reuse Study Report

We’re pleased to share results from a 24-month study evaluating the potential for cost savings associated with the off-site reuse of soil at brownfield sites and the legal framework surrounding soil reuse. Study objectives were to:

  • Gather site-specific data on soil-reuse activities, costs, and driving and limiting factors for soil reuse in Minnesota.
  • Examine and quantify the economic impacts of off-site soil disposal versus off-site soil reuse for marginally contaminated soil.
  • Examine and quantify environmental impacts of off-site soil disposal versus off-site soil reuse.
  • Summarize the regulatory and statutory evolution and current policy status of off-site soil reuse in Minnesota.
  • Define the barriers to off-site soil reuse in Minnesota, both in practical application and policy.
  • Recommend solutions to encourage and increase off-site reuse of marginally contaminated soil.

Read the Report Summary (11 page PDF, 330KB)
Read the Report + Appendices (64 pages, 2.4MB)

Want to learn more?  Attend our May 15th forum.