Brownfield is the name given to a piece of land that was previously used but may now be considered contaminated due to industrial use. The level of contamination can vary. Some countries such as the United Kingdom prefer to refer to these sites as PDL (previously developed land) sites but these terms in essence refer to the same land.
Brownfield sites may be places that were previously industrial factories or locations that might have had waste stored at that location or been subjected to many types of hazardous or potentially hazardous chemicals. While most brownfield sites exist in industrial neighborhoods, some do exist in residential areas in older stores and small factories.
There are many brownfield initiatives to reuse these locations or regenerate them in a way that is an improved situation for the environment. Some cites offer incentives to builders and real estate developers to use previous brownfield sites for new residential and commercial building projects so as not to disturb other areas that are already green space and subject the city to more development. The issue with this is the potential for liability later, should health problems occur as a result of the site’s previous status. Some brownfield sites have hazardous materials buried there or have contaminated watersheds. Initiatives to either regenerate these properties or leave them vacant while they regenerate themselves can have positive effects on the environment and ecosystem. Some brownfield sites are becoming conservation areas or parks to enrich communities. It’s a positive thing that sites are designated in this manner for those interested in using it. It’s important to know when building a structure such as medical facility, school or residential home what that location was previously used for and if there’s a possibility of associated health risks.
Other classifications of land or property exist such as greyfields and greenfields. Greyfields are empty lots that contain outdated buildings or unused space but not due to possible contamination. These may simply be in an area that is not booming or has few amenities to attract buyers or leasers. Greenfields are areas designated to stay green or to be environmentally protected such as conservation areas or greenbelts. Many cities have initiatives to either use greenfields as a last resort after brownfield and greyfield locations. Other locations are protected in order to remain or become permanently protected green space.
It’s important to environmental planning and improvement that classifications such as brownfield sites continue to exist in order to keep the public informed.