Highlights from the 2015 Brownfields Conference

by Pam Jackson
Sep 14, 2015

2015 Brownfield Conference

At the opening plenary session of the National Brownfields Conference, Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the EPA stated, "it's our responsibility to reach out to communities that bear the brunt of the effects of pollution and contamination." This conference marked the 20th year of the EPA Brownfields program, a program that has seen amazing achievements due to the distribution of funds and support most often to impoverished communities. The importance of 'environmental justice', and how the concept relates to the work we do to help transform brownfield sites in these underserved neighborhoods, was woven throughout this years' event.

Our staff experienced three days packed with educational sessions, project discussions, and industry-specific networking opportunities. Event programming was created to bring together stakeholders from a diverse range of professions including: consultants, government leaders, attorneys, developers, planners and engineers, all attending to discuss how to make a positive change in the communities they live and work. Because redevelopment requires a wide-range of skills and expertise, a conference of this magnitude, is time well spent for those of us in this evolving industry.

With over 100 sessions and workshops, the Brownfield Conference offered programming of value for all those in attendance. As seasoned brownfield professionals, we were able to focus our time on targeted presentations and meeting with industry leaders. The conference spotlight on "making a visible difference in environmentally overburdened, underserved, and economically distressed communities," focused our time and energy on discussions around the inequities faced by neighborhoods located near brownfield sites. How can we go beyond the redevelopment of an individual site and address the needs of the surrounding community, including ensuring environmental justice for all? This is the question our team continues to focus on as we work collaboratively with both our clients and governmental agencies.

If you missed the conference we encourage you to watch the online plenary sessions; they will give you a flavor of the conversations and inspire your work. In the coming months, our team will share additional insights from our time in Chicago. Stay tuned!

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What is Environmental Justice?
Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work. - EPA

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