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Delta defines brownfields broadly as previously-used sites where abandonment, contamination, or the fear of contamination impede development. Brownfields range from large former industrial plant sites to small corner lots and are largely a result of the shift away from heavy industry and manufacturing toward an information- and service-based economy. Delta focuses on brownfields in weak market areas where redevelopment is unlikely to happen without some government or non-profit intervention to better define the conditions, risks, costs and potential new uses for the sites. Brownfield remediation improves the environment by reducing or eliminating contaminants and stormwater runoff. Returning vacant or underutilized property to productive use can boost a community’s tax base and create jobs.
Leveraging brownfield redevelopment to promote the Green Economy is a critical strategy for transforming the Great Lakes region. Remediated brownfield sites can be valuable assets for green businesses, providing relatively affordable real estate to help reduce the cost of start-up or expansion for innovative and emerging industries. Examples include former industrial properties being reused for wind or solar energy generation, manufacturing of wind or solar parts, waste reuse or recycling, or urban farming. Understanding the requirements for these new green uses is part of Delta’s role in facilitating the transformation to the Green Economy in the Great Lakes region. The U.S. EPA recognizes the ability of brownfield redevelopment efforts to create Green Jobs and supports job training for environmental remediation as well as other Green Economy growth sector workforce needs, such as efficiency and deconstruction.
What Delta Is Doing
Delta is actively redeveloping brownfields by connecting available properties with potential end-users in the Green Economy. These efforts support Delta’s strategic goal of creating a portfolio of 18 sustainable community economic development models and 36 green business prototypes by the year 2020. Specifically, Delta is:
• Tracking brownfield and infill sites with industrial and commercial reuse potential, monitoring incentives, and tracking properties that do not appear in conventional real estate listings in some weak market areas in the Chicago region.
• Developing brownfield redevelopment programs and strategies working with brownfield and community development partners, including strategies for sustainable redevelopment of former commercial or industrial sites.
• Managing environmental assessments and solving environmental and title problems that take time, patience, and expertise, as well as assisting developers in navigating green building requirements.
• Providing connections to flexible financing and assistance applying for grants to advance new uses of brownfield sites, such as renewable energy demonstration projects, local food stores, or urban agriculture and other uses.
• Assisting green businesses that could take advantage of brownfield sites through Delta’s Green Business Development Center.
• Partnering with other non-profit organizations to influence public policy to expand the role of non-profits in brownfield redevelopment and to build the case for new strategies for financing and reuse.
• Developing education and training resources on greener cleanups, along with training in many aspects of brownfield redevelopment, including green development, achieving LEED certification, environmental assessments, and other Green Economy workforce needs, such as energy-efficiency and deconstruction.
Where Do You Want to GO Next?
• Green Economy & Green Jobs
• Green Business Development Center
• Funding and Financing
• Green Economies in Weak-Market Communities
To explore additional green opportunities, visit our Green Economy Navigator.