FAQ - Western Pennsylvania Brownfields Center - Carnegie Mellon University

Frequently Asked Questions


What are brownfields?

According to the EPA, a brownfield is, “with certain legal exclusions and additions… 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.”

EPA definition link: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/glossary.htm


What is the affect of brownfields on neighborhoods?

The challenges that brownfields present to our communities are complex and include environmental, land-use, and economic considerations. Brownfields:

  • Present potential environmental and health liabilities
  • Contribute to sprawl by taking up space in high density areas 
  • Devalue neighborhood property and contribute to neighborhood deterioration
  • Limit the tax base for municipalities
  • Invite dumping and theft on site


Why redevelop brownfields?

The remediation and redevelopment of Brownfield sites is a way to create more sustainable communities. By channeling attention and development onto neglected sites in existing communities, the remediation of brownfields not only cleans potentially contaminated land in our cities and municipalities, but also focuses development in established communities. Brownfield redevelopments:

  • Create productive use of idle property—increasing surrounding property values and contributing to the long-term sustainability of the community
  • Provide job opportunities
  • Grow local tax bases
  • Restore land to an environmentally sound condition
  • Take advantage of existing infrastructure

How is the WPBC funded?

The Brownfield Center is supported through a congressional earmark by the Small Business Administration.