Equitable Brownfields to Brightfields: Research Findings Memo

This memo summarizes research undertaken between 2020 and 2021 by Groundwork USA and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), with support from EPA’s Brownfields and Land Revitalization Program, to understand the landscape of and opportunities for equitable “Brownfields to Brightfields” (B2B) projects in the U.S. The concept of B2B has great potential to revitalize polluted land, to promote solar energy, and to advance equitable community development. B2B projects repurpose brownfield sites – land with known or potential hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants – with solar energy installations on ground-mounted arrays, building rooftops, or canopy structures. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported more than 450,000 estimated brownfields nationwide, but only 415 renewable energy installations on brownfields as of 2020.1 As solar achieves new economies of scale and land use and equity concerns increase in intensity, there is a vast untapped potential market for B2B projects that create local benefits – especially in low-income communities and communities of color that disproportionately suffer from industrial pollution, disinvestment, and vacancy; lack access to clean energy resources; and face severe climate change impacts and risks.

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