Brightfields: An Advancing Reuse for Brownfields

A new concept to address three of the nation's major challenges — urban revitalization, toxic waste cleanup and climate change — is bringing pollution-free solar energy and high-technology solar manufacturing jobs to Brownfields sites. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Washington, D.C., the Brightfields Initiative should help to develop Brownfields with renewable energy.

Part of the strategy in this initiative includes placing photovoltaic arrays that can reduce cleanup costs, building integrated solar energy systems as part of redevelopment, and installing solar manufacturing plants on Brownfields. Conceivably, each Brightfield, like each Brownfield, will range in terms of site-specific reuse design, redevelopment strategies and market conditions. Since building demolition will be required on many Brownfields sites to be transformed into Brightfields, there are many potential opportunities and benefits for waste haulers.

For companies involved with Brownfields cleanup, Brightfields offer a redevelopment approach that can enhance the public image by bringing clean technology to former environmental challenges. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., also is developing a method to provide air credits for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects as part of implementing the Clean Air Act. This initiative will serve as an incentive for cities and solar energy providers, and create opportunities for waste haulers.

Because photovoltaic arrays are installed on property without penetrating the surface, the technology allows contaminated sites to be used — where soil cannot be disturbed. Solar energy systems are consistent with industrial land use and also can be applied to commercial, residential and open spaces.

For waste haulers, the advantage of not having to penetrate soil is that such projects become more economically feasible. Thus, Brownfields sites that once were considered too expensive to redevelop now can be transformed into Brightfields, creating more opportunity for waste haulers and positioning them in a positive light.