Green Remediation and Green Building – Is There a Connection?

In September, 2010, the USEPA published its “Superfund Green Remediation Strategy”, the purpose of which is to reduce the environmental footprint associated with cleanup actions by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other “negative environmental effects” of environmental remediation.  You can view the principles here: http://www.epa.gov/oswer/greencleanups/principles.htmlCalifornia and New York are among a variety of States that have announced policies favoring green remediation.  In a recently circulated “interested party draft” of its proposed rules relating to the Administrative Requirements for the Remediation of Contaminated Sites, the New Jersey DEP has taken the further step of  defining “green remediation” as the “practice of considering all environmental effects of the remediation and incorporating options that maximize the net environmental benefit of cleanup activities.”  Unfortunately, at this drafting stage, the regulations do not incorporate the definition into any substantive or operable provisions, leaving it more or less in “orphan” status.

The movement towards green remediation is a welcome development.  But where does it fit into the overall scheme of green building?  Within LEED v3 for New Building Construction and Major Renovation, there is one credit available for brownfields redevelopment, and another for “protecting or restoring habitat” (also a primary goal of green remediation).  Obviously, not every remediation project is a development project, but many are (or someday could be).  So, in addition to the regulatory mandate for green remediation, creation of additional development incentives in the form of available LEED credits for employing or selecting green remediation options could be created.

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