What is a "brownfield"?

A brownfield is typically land that is abandoned or underused in part because of contamination concerns. The federal government defines brownfields as "abandoned, idled, or underused industrial or commercial properties where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination."

The term "Brownfield" might make you think of dirty, blighted, and abandoned industrial property. However, that image is too narrow. Though some brownfields are old industrial sites, others are commercial buildings with little or no environmental contamination. Brownfields could be:


  • Former service stations

  • Former dry cleaners

  • Factories

  • Warehouses

  • Parking lots

  • Hangers

  • Lots where heavy machinery was stored or repaired

  • Abandoned railroads

  • Former railroad switching yards

  • Air strips

  • Bus facilities

  • Landfills

  • And many more types of facilities

Show All Answers

1. What is a "brownfield"?
2. Why the interest in redeveloping brownfields?
3. What are the benefits of brownfield redevelopment?
4. Why do some owners leave a brownfield property in its current condition?
5. Does the government provide incentives for brownfield redevelopment?