Brownfields 101


What are Brownfields?

A brownfield is: a property of which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Brownfields are generally abandoned, idle or underused properties, or vacant land where a facility once stood. Often times these properties are considered “blight”.  Examples include:

  • Former gas stations
  • Former dry cleaners
  • Factories
  • Warehouses
  • Salvage yards
  • Mills
  • Abandoned railroads
  • Bulk oil plants
  • Automotive repair shops

Residential land can also be considered brownfields if they meet the definition of above. This is generally the case with vacant properties where redevelopment is planned and there is the perception that the former occupant used or stored hazardous or petroleum products. “Methfields”, properties contaminated by controlled substances such as in the case of meth labs, is also considered a residential example of a brownfield.

Cleanup and reinvestment in these properties has multiple positive effects including reducing blight, returning land to productive use, increasing tax base, protecting human health, protecting the environment, taking development pressures off of green and agricultural space, and revitalizing distressed neighborhoods.

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Publications10 documents

  • Brownfield Basics.pdf
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  • Funding Basics.pdf
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  • ESA Basics.pdf
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  • Redevelopment Timeline.pdf
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  • All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI)
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    Guidance on pre-acquisition due diligence, generally satisfied with a Phase I environmental assessment
  • Iowa DNR's Considerations for Property Transactions.pdf
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  • Anatomy of Brownfields Redevelopment (EPA)
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  • Brownfield Redevelopment Process Steps.pdf
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  • Assess Acquire Cleanup Approach Summary (created by Mel Pins – IADNR).pdf
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  • Brownfields Informational Brochure
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Important Links8 documents

  • Iowa DNR Brownfield Inventory
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  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields
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  • Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources (IDNR) Brownfields Program
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  • IDNR Land Recycling Program
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  • IDNR Leaking Underground Storage Tanks Program
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  • Cleanups in My Community
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  • Understanding Brownfields (EPA)
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  • Opportunity Zones and Brownfields Redevelopment (EPA)
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Regulations & Relevant Laws5 documents

  • Iowa DNR Statewide Standards for Contaminants in Soil and Groundwater
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  • Iowa UST/LUST Regulations
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  • 2002 Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (aka the "Brownfields Law")
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  • 1986 Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA)
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  • 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)
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State Financial/Technical Assistance Programs5 documents

  • IDNR Technical and Financial Assistant for Environmental Assessments and Cleanup.pdf
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  • Derelict Building Program (IDNR)
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  • Redevelopment Tax Credit Program (Iowa Economic Development Authority – IEDA)
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  • Nuisance Property and Abandoned Building Remediation Program (IEDA)
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  • Hazardous Waste Site Health Assessment Program (Iowa Dept. of Public Health – IDPH)
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Federal Financial/Technical Assistance Programs3 documents

  • Brownfields Grants
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    (EPA) – Assessment, Cleanup, Revolving Loan, Area-Wide Planning, Environmental Workforce and Training
  • Targeted Brownfields Assessments (EPA)
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  • Kansas State University Technical Assistance for Brownfields Communities (TAB)
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Other Links2 documents

  • National Brownfields Coalition
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    National group of organizations that support federal policies that will accelerate cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated and abandoned land.
  • Brownfield Listings
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    Nationwide redevelopment marketplace for listing properties, projects, and RFPs
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