Brownfields

Redevelopment in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley: What Worked and Why?

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The revitalization of Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley as an industrial, recreational, and entertainment district has been lauded both locally and nationally as a successful and sustainable urban redevelopment project. In this report, the Public Policy Forum explores how the Valley’s major improvements over the last 15 years were achieved, including an examination of the public policies, financial resources, and partnerships that were crucial to the redevelopment effort.

The purpose of this research effort is not to evaluate the success of Valley redevelopment. Indeed, we start with the premise that Valley redevelopment has been successful. Our objective, instead, is to identify and analyze the ingredients of success so that consideration can be given to replicating them elsewhere. Through analysis of Valley data and documents, and through an extensive series of interviews with public and private sector leaders, we are able to cite the major barriers that inhibited Valley redevelopment, and examine the policies, activities, and strategies that helped to overcome those barriers and facilitate private sector investments.

The report begins with a brief overview of the economic, environmental, and community improvements that have occurred in the Menomonee Valley since the late 1990s. We then explore the work that brought about those outcomes by examining five “success factors” deemed critical to the Valley’s revitalization, and by presenting four major Valley projects as case studies.

Webinar: Reuse Opportunities at Capped Superfund Sites

July 16, 2014, 1-3 PM CDT
Register here

Former landfills, abandoned dumps and other contaminated sites throughout the United States were once thought to be of limited or no value. Today, these sites are being transformed into viable commercial and industrial developments, recreational areas and wildlife areas. With forethought, coordination with regulatory agencies, and effective planning, communities and site stakeholders can return sites to productive use without jeopardizing the effectiveness of a remedial cap put into place to protect human health and the environment. Reuse can provide long-term benefits for the local community, the local government, site owners and even for EPA through continued site stewardship after remedial efforts are complete. This webinar will share examples and lessons learned from the effective assessment and successful reuse of capped sites.

From mines to megawatts: The promise of ‘conflict-free Big Solar’

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Arizona startup Green Energy Storage wants to transform an abandoned open-pit copper mine 45 miles south of Phoenix into a large-scale solar power and pumped-hydro storage facility.

Although still in the early days of development, the project (PDF), first pitched to federal energy regulators two weeks ago, could become a model for conflict-free Big Solar.

After all, contaminated former industrial sites and other degraded lands represent a relatively untapped opportunity for developers to steer clear of the litigious environmental conflicts and tradeoffs associated with large-scale solar power in ecologically sensitive and pristine areas.

How the Power of Cooperation Transformed a Vacant Lot in South Chicago

Read the full post at Shareable.

In 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency remediated a piece of vacant land in the Pullman neighborhood, which is located on the far South Side of Chicago near the Indiana border. The area was left vacant after a Sherwin Williams processing plant closed, and the building burnt down in the 1990’s. Like many vacant lots in cities across America, the land at 114th and Langley became a haven for crime and was contaminated with toxic chemicals. That is until Sunday, September 22nd when members and supporters of the Coop Op unveiled their new garden and community resource.

U of C computer researchers will have a hand in South Works remake

Read the full story in Crain’s Chicago Business.

Crain’s takes a look at a project called LakeSim that will help planners at Skidmore Owings & Merrill remake the massive old U.S. Steel South Works plant on the Far South Side. By marrying computer-assisted design software with computer-modeling software, computer researchers at the Computation Institute run by the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory will help planners see how design changes in buildings, infrastructure or even zoning will impact energy and water usage, stormwater management and transportation demands nearby and throughout other parts of the city.

 

EPA Screens More Than 66,000 Contaminated Sites for Renewable Energy Potential

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its RE-Powering Mapping and Screening Tool, which will now provide preliminary screening results for renewable energy potential at 66,000, up from 24,000, contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites across the country. The RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative, started by EPA in 2008, encourages development of renewable energy on potentially contaminated land, landfills and mine sites when it is aligned with the community’s vision for the site.

“We see responsible renewable energy development on contaminated lands and landfills as a win-win-win for the nation, local communities, and the environment,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “In President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the administration set a goal to double renewable electricity generation by 2020. By identifying the renewable energy potential of contaminated sites across the country, these screening results are a good step toward meeting national renewable energy goals in order to address climate change, while also cleaning up and revitalizing contaminated lands in our communities.”

Pulling from EPA databases of potentially and formerly contaminated lands, as well as partnering with state agencies from California, Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, and Virginia, the RE-Powering Initiative expanded the universe of sites from 24,000 to more than 66,000 sites. Working in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), RE-Powering developed screening criteria for solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal potential at various levels of development. The sites are tracked by EPA and selected state agencies.

The updated screening provides insight into the significant potential for renewable energy generation on contaminated lands and landfills nationwide. For solar energy alone, EPA identified over 10,000 contaminated sites with the potential to install a 300-kilowatt solar array or greater. Based on mapped acreage, these sites could cumulatively host solar energy systems that capture greater than 30 times more solar energy than all renewable energy systems operating in the United States today.

The RE-Powering Initiative supports the transformation of liabilities into assets for surrounding communities. Since RE-Powering’s inception, more than 70 renewable energy projects have been installed on contaminated lands or landfills. These early projects represent just over 200 MW of installed capacity, which could power approximately 30,000 homes, and provide a foundation for future development as demonstrations of the latest technologies in both renewable energy and remediation design.

In 2013, RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative was recognized as one of the Top 25 Innovations in American Government by Harvard University. This award program is one of the nation’s most prestigious and highlights exemplary models of government innovation and efforts to address the nation’s most pressing public concerns.