Defining Greenfields

“Greenfields” may mean distinctly different things to different people. Originally, Greenfields were described as properties that have never been developed for commercial, industrial or institutional purposes. Essentially, they have been left alone as nature made them, or they have used for agrarian, natural parks, woodlands, etc. Legally in this context, Greenfields have no environmental contamination issues that would affect their development. “Typical” Greenfields categories were forests, meadows, natural estuaries, and farmland.

With the advent of Brownfields, Greenfields have taken on other meanings. For example, Greenfields have been described as Brownfields that have been cleaned up and restored for open space such as parks, recreation fields, wildlife estuaries and other types of natural, passive uses. In these cases, opportunities for waste haulers are abundant because all components on these sites have to be decontaminated, demolished and removed. Soil also is frequently removed and treated, although in some cases, soil is treated on-site.

Greenfields also refers to Brownfields that have been redeveloped for new, active uses. In this case, the term implies that these revitalized sites are green — meaning profitably redeveloped and cleaner than they were.

Restoring and reusing Brownfields intrinsically preserves Greenfields, because reuse favors redevelopment over new development options. In a similar way, preserving Greenfields enriches — directs a higher value to — Brownfields. No matter how you define them, from a waste hauler's perspective, preserving or creating Greenfields not only is the right thing to do, but it's also good business.