Brownfields Community Benefits Project

Welcome to the Brownfields Community Benefits Project Page!

The Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech and the Center for Environmental Policy and Management at The University of Louisville  have been awarded a five-year research grant of $1,000,000 by the EPA’s Brownfields Training, Research, and Technical Assistance Grants program.  Together with partners from The E.P. Systems Group, Inc., Lazarus LLC, and Symbiont, we will develop and pilot test a Brownfields Community Benefits Assessment Toolkit (BCBAT).   

What is the Project?
The BCBAT will feature a web-based platform, toolkit, and guidebook  designed to help communities better project and track a wider variety of community benefits associated with brownfields redevelopment;  and thus, expand the number of abandoned, vacant, and under-utilized properties that get cleaned up and considered community assets. Using a GIS-based interface, the platform will aggregate, synthesize, and translate existing, publicly available national, regional, and local socio-economic, environmental and public health data into a series of indicators that can help brownfields practitioners assess existing and potential  community benefits at the neighborhood scale. The toolkit will also include a guidebook to help practitioners and policymakers leverage the data and maps in making better community-based development and planning decisions.

In addition to these standardized data sets, the project team will adapt existing mobile app technology to enable local brownfield practitioners to gather “hyper-local” data which could include feedback from neighborhood residents, policy makers, business owners, about the potential benefits surrounding brownfields redevelopment projects as well as existing improvements to neighborhoods, adjacent properties, etc.

This project is unique in that it will re-examine and augment traditional economic analysis for brownfields redevelopment and in-fill to include a broader set of indicators that have until recently been difficult to systematically measure.  It will also explore the efficacy and value of including hyper-local community collected data in these models now that technological advances open the door to systematic and consistent collection of that level of information.

Diagram of Project Elements

Project Status: The team is putting the final touches on the literature review and indicator system inventory. The literature review provides a discussion on approaches to identifying and measuring community benefits based on over 200 relevant articles from a variety of fields. The indicator system inventory compiles and reviews of over 100 existing indicator efforts- such as databases, sustainability plans, and tool.  These two tasks will help ensure the integrity of the BCBAT as well as   provide well researched, substantive methods to help communities identify and place value on positive outcomes that are not adequately captured by traditional economic cost-benefit analyses.

The project team’s next step is selecting the tool’s final set of indicators. Data availability as well as the lessons learned through the literature review and indicator systems inventory will help guide the selection process.

Project Team Leaders

  • Joseph Schilling, LL.M. Senior Research Associate, Urban Institute, Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. Lauren C. Heberle, Associate Professor of Sociology, Director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Management, University of Louisville.
  • Dr. Peter B. Meyer, President and Chief Economist of The E.P. Systems Group, Inc. and Professor Emeritus of Urban Policy and Economics at the University of Louisville.
  • Chris Harrell, J.D., M.P.A., Founder and Director of Redevelopment for Lazarus Group LLC of Indianapolis, and Lazarus LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary based in Louisville, Ky.
  • Dr. Kris Wernstedt, Associate Professor and Co-Chair, Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Polytechnic University, Alexandria Campus

Key Project Staff and Partners





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