What Are Brownfields?

Brownfields are often underutilized or abandoned properties in which future development is hindered or complicated by presence of environmental contaminants. Many people think of brownfields sites as former industrial and commercial properties such as gas stations, dry cleaning facilities, and photo processing labs or landfills. Brownfields can also refer to properties such as land or buildings containing asbestos, PCBs, mold or other pollutants.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines brownfields as "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."

Since 1995, the EPA’s Brownfields program has changed the way contaminated property is perceived, addressed and managed. Its primary goals are to reduce public health and environmental hazards on existing commercial and industrial sites that are abandoned or underused due to these hazards; encourage voluntary cleanup and redevelopment of sites; and provide the opportunity for environmental equity and justice. Brownfields grants continue to serve as the foundation of EPA's Brownfields Program. These grants support revitalization efforts by funding environmental assessment, cleanup, and job training activities. Brownfields Assessment Grants provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments, and community outreach.

Brownfields Assessment Grants

Awarded to and managed by the City of Hampton
Since 2004, the City of Hampton has been awarded over $600,000 dollars in grant funding, from the US Environmental Protection Agency, to assist with the identification and assessment of brownfields. These grants help Hampton assess environmental conditions and plan for remediation activities designed to reclaim contaminated sites. Combined, these grants have allowed the city to conduct assessments on over 100 acres of land.

Program Benefits

Brownfields redevelopment has transformed blighted, contaminated properties throughout the United States into improved land suitable for redevelopment and reuse.

Founded in 1610, Hampton has more than 400 years of growth and development history and is now considered a fully developed city. As such, redevelopment of underutilized or abandoned land is vital to securing an economically sustainable future for the city and its citizens. The City of Hampton is committed to working with key stakeholders such as neighborhood organizations, developers and regulatory agencies to achieve successful redevelopment.

Private-public partnerships are often the catalyst in the transition of brownfield properties from blight to vibrant developments. The Brownfields Assessment Grant can be used on both private and public properties to assess environmental conditions and is one of many tools used by the City of Hampton to encourage redevelopment of urban properties.

Learn more about the City of Hampton Brownfields Assessment Grant here.

Resources and Links

Various state and federal agencies along with other organizations offer information on brownfields programs.

Environmental Protection Agency:

  • Brownfields and Land Revitalization Programs brochure
  • Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits of Land Revitalization brochure
  • Brownfields and Land Revitalization website
  • Mid-Atlantic Brownfields & Land Revitalization website

Other resources:

  • Virginia Department of Environmental Quality website
  • State Coalition for Remediation of Dry Cleaners website
  • National Brownfield Association website