Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of legislation that would revamp and update the land cleanup program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
H.R. 3017, “The Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment and Reauthorization Act," reauthorizes the EPA's program for cleaning up and redeveloping old industrial or commercial sites with environmental contamination. Specifically, the bill would expand the eligibility of brownfield grants for nonprofits, increase the maximum award of grantees and require the EPA to capitalize a revolving loan fund to locate clean energy projects at brownfield sites.
The full Senate still needs to act before this bill can be sent to the president, but bipartisan legislation (with very similar provisions to H.R. 3017) has already received a favorable vote from the Environment and Public Works Committee earlier this year.
This all bodes well for environmental and economic redevelopment in these areas, specifically for projects that are certifying through the LEED and SITES rating systems. Both have credits to support remediation of these areas. According to USGBC credit achievement data, approximately 3,000 projects have accomplished brownfield redevelopment points, representing a significant proportion of all LEED-certified projects. We hope a modernized brownfield program will enable even greater levels of cleanup and economic redevelopment with LEED and SITES.