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Brownfields 2009–Sustainable Communities Start Here

2009 November 27

About 10 months ago, I wrote an entry for Greenversations on Region 6’s Brown-to-Green initiative to develop renewable energy on previously contaminated sites. Today, I wanted to bring you up to date on this continuing effort to make your community more sustainable.

Brownfields 2009 was held in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 16 through 18. Each year thousands of like-minded citizens; commercial developers; financiers, and municipal, state, tribal and federal agency representatives gather together to share success stories, lessons learned and new approaches to bringing properties back into useful production across the country. Some of the country’s top urban planners and commercial developers spoke, took part in panel discussions and were available for interaction with the conference participants. This year over 4,500 individuals registered to participate in the dozens of panel discussions and workshops.

And while it is too late to participate in this year’s conference, in the next few weeks you will be able to access the presentations at Brownfields 2009. There is a lot of great work going on across the country and it could be applicable to your city or neighborhood.

For me, some of the conference sessions were quite informative: Joint Planning for Renewable Energy Projects; Green Infrastructure on Brownfields; Using Brownfields to Update America’s Industrial and Energy Production Capacity; Brownfield & Redevelopment Efforts on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the Wake of Katrina; and I Have an Oil Well in My Backyard! – Oil and Gas Exploration & Production experiences. I chaired a panel entitled “Making the Connection to Renewable Energy: A How-to Guide for Renewable Energy Projects” that attracted over 100 audience members and ran over 1.5 hours due to the in-depth nature of the speakers’ presentations and high caliber of questions raised by the audience.

In addition to taking part in the formal panels and discussion groups, sampling some of the world’s greatest cuisine and unique musical venues, several dozen EPA staffers and managers from around the country worked Sunday afternoon at the Andrew H. Wilson Elementary School planting trees and bushes as part of the water collection and diversion system. Wilson Elementary was damaged by flooding during Hurricane Katrina but has been rebuilt and expanded as a LEED certified “gold” public school, incorporating the original 1907 structure. The school is scheduled to re-open in January 2010.

About the author: Rob Lawrence joined EPA in 1990 and is Senior Policy Advisor on Energy Issues in the Dallas, TX regional office. As an economist, he works to insure that both supply and demand components are addressed as the Region develops its Clean Energy and Climate Change Strategy.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    November 27, 2009

    My dictionary means brown are perfect, clear. Perhaps, Brownfields meaningful for that fields mean many chance to build anything perfect and clear. Like, an hour and half ago, Atlantis NASA’s mission landed in Florida from the orbit that perfect (on time) and clear (on location). This is not coincidence, but towards to us, everything must be Brownfields in the future, in the next time better. To brownfields 2009, congratulation !!!

  2. pedro jesus pato permalink
    November 28, 2009

    me parece algo interesante pero desconozco a las comunidaes sostenibles me podeis mandar informacion sobre estas comunidades un saludo hasta pronto

  3. Eva Celia permalink
    November 29, 2009

    wow, great activity, how to join this program?

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    November 29, 2009

    This is a wonderful program. It is great that contaminated brownfields can be cleaned up and then used to benefit the environment by using them to help provide clean, renewable sources of energy. We need more of this type of program. I heard where legislation was going to be put forward to renew the ARRA and this would be a perfect program to have some funding. I am also reminded about the article I saw several months ago on a similar issue that the U.S. Department of Transportation had issued grants to several transit agencies that will allow them to run hydrogen and electric powered buses and set up solar power programs at their bus bases to manufacture the hydrogen on site or recharge the electric powered buses on site. Your program sounds like it would be a nice fit on this type of project, too. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. Al Bannet permalink
    November 30, 2009

    A sustainable community is one in which 100% of all waste and garbage is safely recycled. That means a community recycling station and a sewage system with which all the community’s waste and garbage if recycled to compost and industrial raw materials. If not, it will not have long term sustainability. Planet Earth the same. Without a stable population strictly managing a stable economy that safely recycles everything it produces, pollution will accumulate and kill the life-supporting environment. Obviously, this is already happening because, even with recycling, a growing economy on a shrinking planet has no future.

  6. Rob Lawrence permalink
    November 30, 2009

    Thanks for the positive feedback on the article. Working to redevelop Brownfields’ sites, in urban or rural environments, can be very rewarding.

    To learn more about EPA’s Brownfields Program and how you can bring the principles of sustainability to bear, check out:

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