I keep encountering “The Livability Principles” in Federal grant announcements, such as HUD’s Sustainable Communities Grant Program and the EPA’s ARC Grants Program. How is redeveloping a brownfield consistent with these “Livability Principles”?– Nancy R., Development Associate
As background, the U.S. EPA partnered with HUD and DOT to help improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide. The goals of this Partnership for Sustainable Communities include discouraging sprawl and encouraging location efficient investments, smart growth practices, and green infrastructure development. The Partnership established six livability principles that serve as a foundation for interagency coordination:
- Provide more transportation choices
- Promote equitable, affordable housing
- Increase economic competitiveness
- Support existing communities
- Leverage federal investment
- Value communities and neighborhoods.
Brownfield Redevelopment Promotes Livability
Location, location, location. By their nature, most brownfields exist in developed areas, and therefore redevelopment of these properties supports existing communities. Due to their typically central or developed location, many brownfield sites already have access to the infrastructure and transportation network of the community, and are more accessible to job and population centers than undeveloped (i.e., greenfield) sites. This results in buildings which are closer to desired amenities and markets, leading to lower transportation costs and improved air quality from reduced vehicle use. Many brownfield projects are also taking advantage of their central location and mixed-use planning to create bikeable and walkable communities.
Affordability and leveraging. The Federal partners and many state agencies provide incentives to redevelop brownfield sites for residential use. When leveraged with local incentives and programs, communities are able to develop affordable housing. Brownfield projects improve environmental problems through cleanup and assessment, in addition to creating housing and accessing transportation, which makes them excellent opportunities for coordinating federal investment.
Economic competitiveness. The presence of brownfield sites tend to drag down neighborhoods and discourage investment in a community. Revitalizing these sites not only brings government resources, but also private investment into a community, thus improving the economic competitiveness of a neighborhood. Brownfield projects often generate new economic activity and community-serving amenities that increase local tax revenues and create jobs both during construction and after development.
Sustainable redevelopment practices. The Partnership promotes sustainable building practices that can be applied in planning and redevelopment. These include renewable energy, green building practices, low-impact development, recycling/reconstruction of building materials and green remediation – all of which can be implemented in brownfield redevelopment.
The benefits derived from the redevelopment of a particular brownfield site are location- and use-specific, so if you are applying for a grant, be sure to provide specific examples of how your project is supporting these principles. This post should help get the ideas rolling, but get into the details of your project: How is local perception of the site hindering economic growth? How many or what kind of jobs will your project create? Which transportation options are in close proximity to the project? How many and what kind of new housing opportunities will it provide? What new businesses are anticipated after redevelopment? Use facts and figures to tell your story.
For further information about the benefits of brownfield redevelopment, check out Land Recycling 101.