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.