With certain legal exclusions and additions, the term "brownfield site" means 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.

Definition Source:

The Brownfields Site definition is found in Public Law 107-118 (H.R. 2869) - "Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act" signed into law January 11, 2002.

"DEFINITION OF BROWNFIELD SITE- Section 101 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9601) is amended by adding at the end the following:


(A) IN GENERAL- The term "brownfield site" means 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.

(B) EXCLUSIONS- The term "brownfield site" does not include--

(i) a facility that is the subject of a planned or ongoing removal action under this title;

(ii) a facility that is listed on the National Priorities List or is proposed for listing;

(iii) a facility that is the subject of a unilateral administrative order, a court order, an administrative order on consent or judicial consent decree that has been issued to or entered into by the parties under this Act;

(iv) a facility that is the subject of a unilateral administrative order, a court order, an administrative order on consent or judicial consent decree that has been issued to or entered into by the parties, or a facility to which a permit has been issued by the United States or an authorized State under the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.), the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1321), the Toxic Substances Control Act (15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.), or the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300f et seq.);

(v) a facility that--

(I) is subject to corrective action under section 3004(u) or 3008(h) of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6924(u), 6928(h)); and

(II) to which a corrective action permit or order has been issued or modified to require the implementation of corrective measures;

(vi) a land disposal unit with respect to which--

(I) a closure notification under subtitle C of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6921 et seq.) has been submitted; and

(II) closure requirements have been specified in a closure plan or permit;

(vii) a facility that is subject to the jurisdiction, custody, or control of a department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States, except for land held in trust by the United States for an Indian tribe;

(viii) a portion of a facility--

(I) at which there has been a release of polychlorinated biphenyls; and

(II) that is subject to remediation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.); or

(ix) a portion of a facility, for which portion, assistance for response activity has been obtained under subtitle I of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6991 et seq.) from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund established under section 9508 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

(C) SITE-BY-SITE DETERMINATIONS- Notwithstanding subparagraph (B) and on a site-by-site basis, the President may authorize financial assistance under section 104(k) to an eligible entity at a site included in clause (i), (iv), (v), (vi), (viii), or (ix) of subparagraph (B) if the President finds that financial assistance will protect human health and the environment, and either promote economic  development or enable the creation of, preservation of, or addition to parks, greenways, undeveloped property, other recreational property, or other property used for nonprofit purposes.

(D) ADDITIONAL AREAS- For the purposes of section 104(k), the term "brownfield site" includes a site that—

(i) meets the definition of "brownfield site" under subparagraphs (A) through (C); and

(ii)(I) is contaminated by a controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));

(II)(aa) is contaminated by petroleum or a petroleum product excluded from the definition of "hazardous substance" under section

101; and

(bb) is a site determined by the Administrator or the State, as appropriate, to be

(AA) of relatively low risk, as compared with other petroleum-only sites in the State; and

(BB) a site for which there is no viable responsible party and which will be assessed, investigated, or cleaned up by a person that is not potentially liable for cleaning up the site; and

(cc) is not subject to any order issued under section 9003(h) of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6991b(h)); or

             (III) is mine-scarred land."

Types of Contaminated Sites



Superfund sites are uncontrolled or abandoned sites or properties where hazardous waste or other contamination is located. A contaminated site is generally considered a

"Superfund site" if the federal government is or plans to be involved in cleanup efforts. Many of these sites are listed on the National Priorities List (NPL). The Superfund Redevelopment Initiative (SRI) program offers guidance, tools, and services to help communities overcome obstacles to reuse at Superfund sites, including reuse assessments and reuse planning.


Brownfield sites are real properties, the expansion, development, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Generally, the federal government is not involved with brownfields. Rather, state and tribal response programs play a significant role in cleaning up and helping to revitalize these sites, frequently through state voluntary cleanup programs.


Treatment, storage and disposal facilities regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) may have releases into the environment, thereby requiring cleanup. "RCRA brownfields" are RCRA facilities where reuse or redevelopment is slowed due to real or perceived concerns about actual or potential contamination, liability, and RCRA requirements. More information about RCRA brownfields is available on the Agency’s RCRA Brownfields Prevention Initiative website.


Underground storage tank (UST) sites are sites that contain contamination from petroleum products or CERCLA hazardous substances that were released from underground storage tanks.

Federal Facilities

Federal facility sites are properties owned or operated by the United States Government that may contain environmental contamination from unexploded ordnance, radioactive waste, or other hazardous substances.

State Sites

Sites not addressed by EPA as Superfund or RCRA sites are often addressed by the state in which the site is located. State cleanup programs can vary considerably. Many states have a state Superfund program or state Brownfield program. States also have voluntary cleanup programs that address other contaminated sites.


Brownfields Redevelopment Toolbox

The purpose of this toolbox is to explain the brownfield redevelopment process in straightforward terms, and to
provide rural and smaller city governments with a systematic, start-to-finish, guide to brownfield redevelopment.


Brownfields and Land Revitalization Technology Support Center

The Brownfields and Land Revitalization Technology Support Center (BTSC, formerly the Brownfields Technology Support Center) is a cooperative effort to provide technical support to federal, state, local, and tribal officials for questions related to the use of innovative technologies and strategies for site assessment and cleanup.

EPA created the BTSC in 1998 to help decision-makers:

• Evaluate strategies to streamline the site investigation and cleanup process

• Identify and review information about complex technology options

• Evaluate contractor capabilities and recommendations

• Explain complex technologies to communities

Partners in the BTSC include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) and Office of Research and Development (ORD); the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Argonne National Laboratory. As a Center partner, EPA’s Brownfields Program helps to identify support needed by EPA’s Brownfields Program participants.

Ford Foundation

We are working across the United States to support efforts that reach beyond individual neighborhoods and cities to connect residents with opportunities in their broader metropolitan economies. We support organizations that pursue integrated approaches to housing, land use and environmental planning, public transportation and community infrastructure, and aligned workforce opportunities.

Our work promotes smarter public policy and planning, and links regional efforts to build economic growth and competitiveness over the long term with emerging national efforts to coordinate funding streams among cabinet agencies. We believe this approach advances a new vision of smart, regional development that integrates key elements of metropolitan life to build strong and sustainable communities.

Each year the Ford Foundation receives about 44,000 proposals and makes some 2,000 grants. Requests range from a few thousand to millions of dollars and are accepted in categories such as project planning and support; general support; and endowments.

Georgia-Pacific Foundation

Georgia-Pacific believes that strong communities are good for business. Our core philosophy is anchored in a belief that for a business to survive and prosper, it must develop and use its capabilities to create sustainable value for both its customers and society. The purpose of the Georgia-Pacific Foundation is to help create and fund those programs and initiatives that add value to, and measurably improve, the quality of life within the communities where Georgia-Pacific employees live and work.

We believe that self-reliance and economic fortitude are indispensable components of vibrant communities. The Foundation primarily invests our resources in four key areas that are essential to creating and sustaining strong communities: Education, Environment, Community Enrichment, and Entrepreneurship.

Green Communities

Green Communities is the first national green building program developed for affordable housing. We focus on the use of environmentally sustainable materials, reduction of negative environmental impacts and increased energy efficiency. And we emphasize designs and materials that safeguard the health of residents and locations that provide easy access to services and public transportation.

Green Communities is designed to help developers, investors, builders and residents make the transition to a greener future for affordable housing. Created in consultation with some of the nation’s leading environmental, public health and green building experts, we offer grants, loans, tax-credit equity, training and technical assistance to give developers and builders the resources they need to bring green projects to life.

Enterprise Green Communities Criteria provide proven, cost-effective standards for creating healthy and energy-efficient homes.

The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.1 billion private, national foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations through its support of nonprofit organizations in six fields of interest : health, the environment, community development, arts and culture, education and human services.

Our grantmaking decisions are guided by our values criteria. The values aim to create access and advance opportunity for marginalized populations, promote community impact in ways most needed by residents, cultivate innovation and risk taking, support interdisciplinary solutions, reach underserved locales, foster environmental sustainability, and encourage nonprofit boards and their staffs to reflect the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of the people they serve.

As the issues facing communities and individuals have grown increasingly more complex and nuanced, so too have Kresge’s grantmaking methods. In 2008, we began exploring the use of an expanded array of funding methods , and now award, along with facilities capital, growth capital, operating support, and program support. In addition, we make program-related investments, or loans, to nonprofit organizations and award planning grants, or seed money, for business planning, market analysis and other aspects of launching or spinning off a new nonprofit.

Northeast-Midwest Institute

Abandoned contaminated land has proven particularly resistant to the federal and state cleanup statutes and programs. In the early 1990s, the Institute was one of the first organizations to recognize this and focus analytical research on the issue of brownfields redevelopment. In the intervening two decades, the Institute has worked closely with federal and state regulatory agencies to identify impediments to reusing these sites, compile best practices from cleanup efforts that have been successful, and coordinate interested public and private sector organizations in efforts to find innovative financial mechanisms to expedite site redevelopment.

The Institute has been particularly active in documenting best practices in the area of federal, state, and local brownfields incentives. Northeast and Midwest member states generally have a strong interest in brownfields incentives because of the prevalence of abandoned manufacturing plants and the need to re-position those vacated sites to accommodate productive new uses.

The Institute also provides an advisory role to states and localities that are actively reviewing their brownfields incentives.

Surdna Foundation

The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States—communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures. The Surdna Foundation makes grants to nonprofit organizations in the priority areas of Sustainable Environments, Strong Local Economies, and Thriving Cultures.

There are no formal deadlines to apply for funding. The Surdna Foundation accepts applications on an ongoing basis. However, grants are approved three times per year: in February, May and September. We need your request three to four months in advance of staff review.

The Tiffany & Co. Foundation

Since its inception in 1837, Tiffany & Co. has been guided by the belief that a successful company has a responsibility to the greater community. The Tiffany & Co. Foundation was established in 2000 to focus the company's philanthropic endeavors by providing grants to nonprofit organizations working in two main program areas: the environment and the arts.

The Foundation shows a special appreciation for, and commitment to, advancing the arts by supporting the critically important work of educational, artistic and cultural institutions dedicated to excellence in decorative arts design through the creation of gallery spaces and the support of key decorative arts exhibitions. The mission of its environmental program is to support organizations dedicated to the conservation of natural resources in the areas of responsible mining, coral conservation and land protection. Specifically, the Foundation promotes responsible mining through remediation, community development and standards- setting efforts; healthy marine ecosystems through key research and targeted educational outreach; the enhancement of urban environments through beautification and infrastructure improvements; and the preservation of culturally significant landmarks.

To qualify for a grant, a prospective grantee must be a U.S.-based, tax-exempt organization with 501(c)(3) status. A prospective grantee must also be engaged in work that fits within the Foundation's program guidelines. The Tiffany & Co. Foundation is pleased to announce a new online application system. Please note that the Foundation does not accept grant applications that are submitted on paper or meeting requests. Grants are awarded by the Tiffany & Co. Foundation board of directors, who meet twice annually.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers environmental programs fall under the umbrella of the Environmental Community of Practice, which provides the public with a central access to news and information about the environment. The Corps supports or manages numerous environmental initiatives including Ecosystem Restoration, Formerly Used Defense Sites, Environmental Stewardship, support to EPA Superfund and Brownfields programs, Abandoned Mine Lands, Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program, Base Realignment and Closure 2005, and Regulatory. The Corps' environmental programs support the warfighter and military installations worldwide as well as the Corps' public recreation facilities throughout the country.

U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)

For 45 years, the U.S. Economic Development Administration has partnered with distressed communities throughout the United States to foster job creation, collaboration and regional innovation. The agency’s mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.

Just as economic development practitioners must adapt to changes in the economic environment, so must the federal government’s only agency solely devoted to economic development. The challenges posed by a severe global recession and immense economic, social and environmental changes require the agency to improve the way it does business to continue to meet the needs of American communities.

Specifically, EDA is improving its grant approval process so that it is more competitive, transparent and efficient.

EDA’s new grant process is designed to build on its record of excellent customer service, flexibility and strong performance measure. It includes:

1.   Continuous technical assistance and customer service - Applicants may submit an application at any time during the quarter and receive formal feedback on its technical and competitive merits and/or deficiencies within 15 business days.

2.    Quarterly rounds of funding - EDA will set quarterly deadlines for submission of applications in order to be considered for an award in that quarterly funding cycle.

3.    Enhanced responsiveness - Applicants who submit a complete application package prior to the quarterly deadline will be notified of EDA’s selection decisions within 20 business daysof that deadline.

4.    Competitive selection framework - All projects will be assessed against EDA’s strategic priorities and evaluated by an investment review committee where EDA professionals will analyze and recommend proposals to the EDA Regional Director for that quarter’s available funding.