Cleaning up contaminants and redeveloping a brownfield site can bring communities a number of environmental, economic and social benefits. You can achieve even greater benefits by incorporating sustainable approaches throughout the site remediation and risk management activities.

Environmental benefits

  • Lower risk of soil, surface water and groundwater contamination
  • Fewer GHGs through decreased urban sprawl and commuting
  • Less or no waste
  • Energy savings
  • Protected ecosystem and habitat

Economic benefits

  • New development opportunities
  • Job creation
  • Increased property values
  • Higher tax revenues
  • Lower energy costs
  • Lower water costs
  • Lower landfill disposal costs
  • Reduced landfill space

Social benefits

  • Revitalized neighbourhoods
  • More public space
  • Improved public health and safety
  • Job creation

Benefits at all stages: reap the rewards

Project Stage Activities Environmental Benefits

Economic Benefits

Social Benefits
Planning Develop a water conservation plan  •
Develop a waste minimization or recycling plan  •  
Implement idling restrictions on vehicles and construction equipment  •
Consider interim uses for sites that will be under-used for extended periods (e.g. community gardens, solar panels)  •     •
Site Assessment Seek community involvement to increase public awareness and acceptance.  •
Use passive sampling devices.  •  
Use on-site analytical techniques.  •
Use telemetry or remote data collection.  •   
Remediation/Risk management Sequence work to minimize handling materials twice.
Reduce excavation and off-site disposal.  •  
Consider technologies that destroy contaminants without creating waste or additional contamination.  •
Consider low-energy technologies (e.g. bioremediation, phytoremediation).  •   
Use energy-efficient equipment and optimize equipment performance  •  
Incorporate renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar, into treatment systems.  •  
Use construction equipment with enhanced emission controls.  •  


Remediation of Strathcona Shooting Range, City of Edmonton, AB

With its growing population and a related demand for recreational facilities, the City of Edmonton decided to convert the Strathcona Shooting Range to a multi-use sports and recreational facility. By using a sustainable approach, testing for lead and other contaminants was carried out on-site, rather than in a laboratory, and soil was excavated at the same time as when the on-site soil analysis took place. This project received support from FCM's Green Municipal Fund, and was completed for less than half the original $9 million estimate to remove lead and other soil contaminants.

Environmental benefits 

  • Eliminated further contamination from shooting activities
  • Reduced soil handling and less soil excavated.

Economic benefits

  • No need to convert other valuable land into sports fields.
  • Reduced transportation of analytical samples and limited laboratory costs.
  • Selective excavation of soil known to be contaminated.

Social benefits

  • A much-needed recreational and sport field space for the community.

New Town Hall, Town of the Blue Mountains, ON

When the Town of the Blue Mountains found itself with too little space to meet its administrative needs, it chose to build a new town hall on a brownfield site. The town avoided moving contaminated soil to landfill by using an on-site bioremediation process to break down the contaminants and by using the remediated material as a landfill cap. Geothermal wells were installed in areas where soil would be excavated. This project received support from FCM's Green Municipal Fund.

Environmental benefits

  • Reduced soil excavation
  • Eliminated contamination rather than disposed of contaminated soi.

Economic benefits

  • Less labour and excavation time
  • Reduced landfill fees and extended landfill life.Selective excavation of soil known to be contaminated
  • No need to use valuable materials for covers

Social benefits

  • Reduced health risk due to less handling of contaminated soil

Landfill transformed to residential land, City of St. Catharines, ON

The City of St. Catharines used a series of sustainable approaches to convert a former landfill into a residential area. The project was Ontario's first large-scale initiative of its kind. The municipality gained 3.5 acres of new residential lands, and increased available housing and tax revenues. This project was a finalist in the Sustainable Remediation Technologies and Technological Innovation category for the 2009 Canadian Urban Institute's Brownie Awards. 

Environmental benefits 

  • Soil contaminated with petroleum bioremediated on-site.
  • Metal and tires from the landfill were recycled and other waste material was reused as golf course fill

Economic benefits

  • Sustainable approach to remediation diverted waste from landfill
  • Redevelopment into residential area increased tax revenue

Social benefits

  • Landfill site was redeveloped as residential property.

Want to know more?

See these websites for more information on sustainable remediation and risk management metrics:

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