What is a brownfield?
Easy to recognize, hard to define, and yet, simply put, it is “a real estate transaction with environmental personality.”  Most states have their own definition of a brownfield. Chances are it’s somewhat similar to the national definition presented in the Small Business Liability Relief Act. The U.S. EPA 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.” Brownfield sites can be found in every state. Common examples are abandoned gas stations and dry cleaners, railroad properties, factories and closed military bases. 

  • No one knows exactly how many brownfields there are; estimates range from 400,000 to more than a million in the United States alone.
  • As much as $2 trillion of real estate may be undervalued due to the presence of contamination.
  • Between 5,000 and 10,000 people make their livelihood in the brownfield market.
  • Environmental hazards are estimated to be present at 20-50% of all industrial real estate properties. 

[From the Brownfield Association

Brownfield Basics

Real Estate and Industry Information

Local Government