brownfields redevelopment

Brownfields 2021, Oklahoma City

December 8, 2021

The National Brownfields Training Conference is going to the Sooner State!  The live, in-person conference will be held December 8-11, in Oklahoma City.  The theme is “Sustainable Communities Start Here”.

Oklahoma City is the site of the 2021 Brownfields Conference due to the exciting brownfields redevelopment happening in the city. The conference will take place in the brand new Oklahoma City Convention Center, which was itself built on a redeveloped brownfield site!

The National Brownfields Training Conference provides networking and learning opportunities to the Brownfields community.  Conference planners are working to ensure that the venue and travel arrangements will be as safe and healthy as possible so conference attendees can continue to experience the valuable in-person education and networking opportunities that have defined the Brownfields Conference since 1996.

Co-sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the National Brownfields Training Conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties.

The Conference features a dynamic program of speakers, mobile workshops, films, over 100 educational sessions, and other learning formats calibrated to provide case studies, program updates, and useful strategies for meeting your brownfield challenges head-on.  The exceptional training offered by the Brownfields Conference has something for both beginners and seasoned professionals.  Topic areas include

  • Brownfield Assessment, Cleanups, and Redevelopment
  • Community Engagement and Empowerment
  • Creative Placemaking
  • Equitable Development and Environmental Justice
  • Funding and Financing for Community Revitalization
  • International Programs and Policies
  • Environmental Liability and Enforcement
  • Opportunity Funds and Brownfields Revitalization Renewable Energy Alternatives
  • Resiliency and sustainability
  • Brownfields Strategies for Rural and Small Communities
  • Promoting Public Health through Brownfields Revitalization
  • Workforce Development and Job Training

The conference is also a premier stop for the private sector with a vibrant exhibit hall and other transactional activities that are catered towards companies doing the business of brownfields cleanup and redevelopment. The exhibit hall will feature federal agencies, engineering firms, developers, environmental cleanup companies, legal and financial expertise, nonprofits, and other types of organizations.

As an added bonus, organizers recently added Brownfields University to the program.  BU is a set of pre-conference training workshops that will provide a core of brownfield concepts and practices to prepare attendees for the full educational program content.

Click for Conference and Brownfields University registration information and program details

 

 

 

Posted by Laura Dorn at 8:00 am

Vetting Vapor Intrusion to Ensure Safety

April 21, 2021

Vapor barriers prevent the migration of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from subsurfaces.

 

Vapor intrusion is a regulatory hot button gaining traction on states’ radar nationwide. This is driven by a growing understanding of how vapors travel through the soil into structures, posing health risks to occupants, coupled with research showing volatile vapors can be problematic even at very low concentrations.

As in California, conservative assumptions by regulatory agencies call for careful due diligence during the assessment process. These salient concerns recently brought a real estate developer in Monrovia to seek a professional engineer.

The client plans to convert a commercial property to residential use. But before moving forward, it needs to assess potential environmental issues associated with the property. That’s where SCS comes in, drawing on its concrete knowledge base in geology and chemistry—and leveraging its grasp of regulatory requirements.

The work in Monrovia entails a detailed soil vapor assessment, looking for volatile organic compounds (VOCs); the discovery at this site came as little surprise to Julio Nuno, Senior Vice President, and Project Director, as these constituents are often found during evaluations of this kind.

 

Assessing for VOCs
In this case, the soil contained eight VOCs, some at non-compliant levels. The good news is, after an extensive, multi-step vetting process, Nuno and his team came up with a relatively inexpensive solution to tackle a potentially daunting problem.

“As part of the soil vapor assessment, we compare concentrations we find on-site to screening levels established by the Department of Toxic Substances Control. We often see levels in exceedance of regulatory thresholds, particularly in industrial areas with releases that can travel from groundwater to soil into the building through the slab,” Nuno says.

Most prominent at the Monrovia site were two chlorinated compounds that have been used as solvents in industrial applications: tetrachloroethylene, also called PCE, and trichloroethene, or TCE. PCE is commonly present in industrial settings and communities as drycleaners widely and routinely used the chemical for decades.

Nevertheless, the work begins even before confirming VOC levels and other specifics around these compounds. The first step is a Phase I Environmental Assessment looking to see if past use of the property or surrounding property may have left a significant environmental impact. The SCS team discovered the adjacent property had a release of VOCs they identified as a ‘recognized environmental condition,’ meaning it needs further evaluation using a Phase II to determine if vapors could migrate onto the client’s property.

During the Phase II Environmental Assessment –the collection of soil and soil vapor samples –the SCS team gets even more specific, determining what’s present, specific locations, what degree of contamination, and what these findings mean for redeveloping the property and its final use.

“We confirm subsurface concentrations and if they exceed state screening levels, and if the site represents a potential risk for future residential use. The information informs our possible solutions to mitigate any migration of certain VOCs into the building and the indoor air,” Nuno explains.

 

Redevelopment Goals – safety and cost containment
Safety comes first, but containing project costs is a priority, which comes down to knowing design options, how to piece components together with both function and economics in mind. At this site, achieving safety and controlling costs centered largely around looking at the mandatory infrastructure– a ventilation system for a planned underground parking garage to prevent accumulation of carbon monoxide and other vehicle exhaust emissions.

“We knew the underground parking would require a ventilation system. It makes sense to look at the parameters associated with that design to verify if it serves dual purposes to ventilate the garage and mitigate the potential for VOCs to enter the building,” Nuno says.

By studying air exchanges that would occur, the number of times replacing air-containing pollutants with cleaner air per hour, Nuno gets his answer. “We determined that a second, separate system would not be necessary for sufficient ventilation; the assessment enabled us to confirm vapors would not travel into the residential portion of the building.”
The client can save $50,000 to $75,000 in capital expenses upfront while achieving their safety goals and avoids ongoing operations and maintenance costs for added infrastructure.

 

An added layer of protection
Identifying the issues for site developers and their tenants, then plotting the best course of action to ensure safety and regulatory compliance takes experience and knowledge. SCS devises a soil monitoring plan, alerting developers of indications of potential contamination to the soil, of odor, or anything unusual that could suggest an environmentally adverse condition. The plan advises on how to respond should there be an unexpected condition adding a further protection layer.

“It’s essential that an engineer understand the applicable federal, state, and local standards for completing assessments, as well as understand regulatory stipulations. You must also know the variations in those stipulations to effectively design a sustainable plan,” Nuno says. “In Monrovia, we comply with the Department of Toxic Substances Control requirements, the requirements of the Los Angeles Regional Quality Control Board, and others. Each has specific stipulations for evaluating each contaminant. So, we stay on top of which rules apply to which location,” he says.

Nuno has submitted a draft report for review by his client and its legal counsel; he’ll meet with them to discuss findings and explain their meaning. SCS includes an executive summary, explaining in plain language what is salient; often, a backup report includes thousands of pages. “It’s a lot of complex information, so we work on the language,” Nuno says.

“It’s important to paint an accurate picture and use terms that all parties, whether the client, investors, or other stakeholders understand. These redevelopments are major projects with many due diligence considerations. We want to provide accurate findings and recommendations that the client and their advisors can digest to help them with their decision making.”

 

More resources:

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

Our thanks to the Center for Creative Land Recycling

December 16, 2020

At SCS, we’re proud that our services, vision, and corporate citizenship support community revitalization through brownfield redevelopment and land reuse.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2017 estimated that roughly 40 percent of all Americans, including a quarter of all children, live within 3 miles of a brownfield site that has received EPA funding. This is a conservative estimate, as only 5.5% of brownfields nationwide have benefited from EPA resources. But these striking numbers clarify the degree to which remediating and repurposing contaminated and underutilized properties has transformative potential to protect our residents’ health and safety.

SCS firmly believes that all blighted, abandoned, and underutilized properties have a future as community assets. We support this vision through the services we provide as well as through our corporate citizenship. The partnership of SCS technology and environmental know-how with CCLR is powerful. There is no shortage of possibilities for brownfields now; ski resorts, parks, mixed-use properties, solar farms, really almost any infrastructure is possible.

SCS is proud to support the Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR, or “See Clear”), the leading national nonprofit dedicated to transforming communities through land recycling. Over the past two decades, CCLR has convened, navigated, and influenced the redevelopment industry. Their programs educate the public and community stakeholders to clean up and repurpose underutilized and environmentally impacted properties in a sustainable, equitable and responsible manner.

CCLR and SCS share the belief that with the right training, incentives, and conditions — chiefly, an active corporate partner/investor, community support, and municipal leadership — the redevelopment of brownfields changes communities for the better.  CCLR has produced two videos, About CCLR and What is Land Recycling?, which provide important perspectives about CCLR’s mission and accomplishments.

Dan Johnson, Jim Ritchie, and  Amy Dzialowski are among the SCS staff who have worked with CCLR. They have spoken on panels at CCLR’s California Land Recycling Conference, participated in vapor intrusion study groups, teamed with CCLR on providing technical support to West Sacramento and other municipalities, and serve on the planning committee for the Brownfields 2021 Conference together.

At SCS, we understand that brownfield redevelopment is inherently complex and multifaceted, and we appreciate that productive, successful land recycling requires all hands on deck. We’re proud to play a part on the road to redevelopment and thank CCLR for their national leadership in transforming communities through land recycling.

 

For more information about CCLR, brownfields, and property remediation, contact , or Jean Hamerman, Acting Executive Director of CCLR.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

EPA Brownfields grant applications up to $800K due October 28, 2020

September 21, 2020

Shown here COMM22, developed by BRIDGE-Housing, is an award-winning mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented development located at Commercial and 22nd streets in San Diego. SCS’s environmental remediation of the property to ensure human health and the environment were protected as cost-effectively as possible enabled the four-phase development project; supporting both the social and business goals of our client and the community.

Many things have been put on hold, but your plans for community revitalization and economic resilience are still critically important. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Grant applications are due October 28, 2020.

Local governments and non-profits use Brownfields grants to complete environmental assessments, redevelopment planning, and environmental cleanup. The grant opportunities available now are as follows:

Brownfields Assessment Grant– for Brownfields inventories, environmental assessment, redevelopment planning, and cleanup planning. Funding amounts of $300,000 for community-wide and $600,000 for coalitions.

Brownfields Cleanup Grant– for environmental cleanup of a specific property or properties, currently owned by the applicant. Funding amounts up to $500,000

Brownfields Multi-Purpose Grant-for a range of activities including redevelopment planning, inventories, environmental assessment, and environmental cleanup. Funding amounts up to $800,000.

SCS Engineers has provided grant writing and implementation services for over $10 million in successful Brownfields grant applications including an 80% success rate for first-time applications and over 90% success rate for second round applications. Our Brownfields team is ready to support your grant application effort too. We will work with you to understand the EPA Brownfields grant opportunities and support your development of a successful proposal.

SCS Engineers is a national environmental consulting and contracting company with local experts.  We serve as Brownfields’ consultants for many public and private sector clients. Find more inspiration and economic redevelopment successes across our nation:

 

Contact Dan Johnson, Mr. Johnson brings 35 years of experience and over 200 EPA contracts he’s managed to support your grant application. He is a nationally recognized Brownfield expert and author; current practices regarding environmental assessments; speaks or chairs numerous conferences on hazardous waste issues related to real estate transactions and Brownfields redevelopment.

 

Contact Amy Dzialowski, Ms. Dzialowski is a nationally recognized expert in Brownfields redevelopment, site reuse, and planning. She has supported grant applications and Brownfield implementation for dozens of communities.

 

Contact Ray Tierney, Mr. Tierney is a Professional Geologist with over 30 years of experience in environmental and sustainability engineering and has helped a wide range of organizations control and reduce their legacy environmental impacts and liabilities, lower their costs, obtain grants for Brownfields, and implement cost-saving practices.

 

Kirk Blevins, Mr. Blevins is experienced in land development and redevelopment support, due diligence for property transactions, Brownfield redevelopment, environmental compliance auditing, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) sites.

 

Find a Brownfields consultant near you, try our staff directory where you can search by specialty, city, and state.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

EPA Brownfields grant applications are due October 28, 2020

September 10, 2020

Shown here COMM22, developed by BRIDGE-Housing, is an award-winning mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented development located at Commercial and 22nd streets in San Diego. SCS’s environmental remediation of the property to ensure human health and the environment were protected as cost-effectively as possible enabled the four-phase development project; supporting both the social and business goals of our client and the community.

Many things have been put on hold, but your plans for community revitalization and economic resilience are still critically important. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Grant applications have been announced and are due October 28, 2020.

Local governments and non-profits use these grants to complete environmental assessments, redevelopment planning, and environmental cleanup. The grant opportunities available now are as follows:

Brownfields Assessment Grant– for Brownfields inventories, environmental assessment, redevelopment planning, and cleanup planning. Funding amounts of $300,000 for community-wide and $600,000 for coalitions.

Brownfields Cleanup Grant– for environmental cleanup of a specific property or properties, currently owned by the applicant. Funding amounts up to $500,000

Brownfields Multi-Purpose Grant-for a range of activities including redevelopment planning, inventories, environmental assessment, and environmental cleanup. Funding amounts up to $800,000.

SCS Engineers has provided grant writing and implementation services for over $10 million in successful Brownfields grant applications including an 80% success rate for first-time applications and over 90% success rate for second round applications. Our Brownfields team is ready to support your grant application effort too. We will work with you to understand the EPA Brownfields grant opportunities and support your development of a successful proposal.

SCS Engineers is a national environmental consulting and contracting company with local experts.  We serve as Brownfields’ consultants for many public and private sector clients. Find more inspiration and economic redevelopment successes across our nation:

 

Contact Dan Johnson, Mr. Johnson brings 35 years of experience and over 200 EPA contracts he’s managed to support your grant application. He is a nationally recognized Brownfield expert and author; current practices regarding environmental assessments; speaks or chairs numerous conferences on hazardous waste issues related to real estate transactions and Brownfields redevelopment.

 

Contact Amy Dzialowski, Ms. Dzialowski is a nationally recognized expert in Brownfields redevelopment, site reuse, and planning. She has supported grant applications and Brownfield implementation for dozens of communities.

 

Contact Ray Tierney, Mr. Tierney is a Professional Geologist with over 30 years of experience in environmental and sustainability engineering and has helped a wide range of organizations control and reduce their legacy environmental impacts and liabilities, lower their costs, obtain grants for Brownfields, and implement cost-saving practices.

 

Kirk Blevins, Mr. Blevins is experienced in land development and redevelopment support, due diligence for property transactions, Brownfield redevelopment, environmental compliance auditing, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) sites.

 

Find a Brownfields consultant near you, try our staff directory where you can search by specialty, city, and state.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

Dynamic Compaction – An Effective and Viable Option for Land Redevelopment

July 27, 2020

dynamic compaction

The value of land in large metro areas has climbed so high that developers investigate developing sites previously filled with trash, garbage, debris, or used by industry or the military. Redevelopment or rehabilitation of these properties is performed in accordance with approved urban renewal plans, and under site-specific environmental agencies. Some of these sites have regulatory agency files but filed when regulations were not as strict as they are today. Other sites are so old that they have not been on regulatory agency radar.

Due Diligence

Developers usually pay a lower price for such lands compared to a virgin land, which is rare to find in prime commercial or industrial areas, or land that has a dilapidated building on it, only suitable for demolition. Developers know that they are responsible for handling any environmental issues as soon as they open a file with a regulatory agency for the redevelopment of the property. Environmental due diligence helps determine the costs of addressing environmental issues before purchase.

Another essential part of due diligence is examining the foundation – whatever is below the ground surface, to determine its load-bearing properties for future development. There are several options available to improve load-bearing capability depending on the type, depth, and age of the below-surface material and the load-bearing properties required of the proposed development. Developers hire geotechnical engineers, to factor this, and many more parameters into an evaluation of the site, and to develop options for improving foundation strength.

Dynamic Compaction

One option for improving foundation strength is through dynamic compaction, which involves dropping a heavy load from a significant height for a certain number of times on locations identified by a grid pattern. The kinetic energy of the weight at the time of impact on the substandard foundation compresses the material, reduces voids in-between material particles, and increases internal friction or shear strength of the material. The practice has been around for decades, and developers are familiar with the methodology. The design of a dynamic compaction program is best carried out by a geotechnical engineer familiar with site conditions and parameters. Dynamic compaction is a reasonable and cost-effective option for specific vertical development to improve load-bearing foundations.

Installing Piles

Another option is installing piles in a grid pattern into the ground, extending into the virgin ground. The piles carry the building load via pile skin friction or point resistance at the tip of the piles. Driving piles is more expensive than the dynamic compaction option discussed above. Piles are characteristically useful for high design loadings. Dynamic compaction is useful to minimize ground settlement around the piles, preventing voids from forming below the building as the ground settles over time. While the building remains at its constructed elevation above piles, dynamic compaction helps avoid problems with utilities below the building slab, including water lines, sewer lines, and electrical lines. Limiting the amount of settlement prevents future vertical shifts in ingress and egress structures, driveways connected to the building, docking ports for trailers, and outside staircases if not located on piles.

The gas vapor barrier system under the building prevents unwanted gas from moving upward from materials in the ground into the building. Minimizing settlement by performing dynamic compaction prevents the barrier from vertically shifting and opening passages for unwanted gas moving into the building. The integrity of the barrier layer is essential in maintaining the building’s protection. These problems are tremendously expensive to fix, and agency officials could deem the structure unsafe for occupation.

Excavation

A third option is the excavation of unsuitable material then backfilling with suitable soil. Depending on the contamination, it is possible to clean the soil then return it clean as backfill. For the building foundation to have sufficient bearing capacity, a geotechnical engineer oversees the operation. Filling the excavation in dry conditions is less complicated than wet conditions. In sites where excavation is deep and groundwater is high, dynamic compaction of the backfill, placed in the ground in wet conditions, may be necessary to achieve sufficient shear strength to support the proposed development.

Developers and city planners want viable solutions that are financially reasonable. While dynamic compaction may sound like a crude methodology, it plays a vital role in improving substandard foundations. If you are considering redevelopment of a landfill, Brownfield or other property where the foundation is currently unsuitable consider establishing a business relationship now with a reliable dynamic compaction contractor since they are highly in demand and their availability can affect the project schedule.

 


 

About the Author:  Ali Khatami, Ph.D., PE, LEP, CGC, is a Project Director and a Vice President of SCS Engineers. He is also our National Expert for Elevated Temperature Landfills, plus Landfill Design and Construction Quality Assurance. He has nearly 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering.

Dr. Khatami has many followers of his blog series “SCS Advice from the Field” on SCS’s website and social media channels. Send him a question or topic you’d like him to address.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

SCS Engineers Welcomes Joe Dinan to Lead Our Boston Office

February 19, 2020

Joseph Dinan heads the SCS Engineers new office at 101 Arch Street, Boston, MA 02110,
Tel: 857-444-6302

SCS Engineers opened a new office in Boston’s Downtown Crossing district. The new location is more convenient for clients and enhances support to the firm’s growing client base in New England.

joe dinan
Joe Dinan heads the SCS Engineers’ environmental services team in Boston.

Joseph Dinan, an accomplished project manager and senior scientist heads Boston’s SCS team. Dinan has an excellent record meeting regulatory compliance and accountability for his clients to efficiently permit projects, keep them on budget and maintain the redevelopment schedule while meeting all environmental guidance. His background includes applied sciences including chemistry, microbiology, and environmental and soil sciences. Dinan has successfully managed hundreds of environmental assessment and remediation projects, both domestically and internationally.

Dinan’s Boston team resolves complex environmental challenges through the application of comprehensive analytical skills and technologies. Approaching each project with decades of expertise, mitigating the financial risk through careful assessment, analysis, and planning protects clients and the environment during all phases of redevelopment.

The Boston location supports the growing demand for environmental scientists, engineers, and consultants. SCS professional staff specializes in meeting federal, state, and local clean air, water, and soil goals, and the restoration of property once thought impractical to revitalize. The firm also provides vapor intrusion systems for protecting existing properties and a range of comprehensive environmental services for public and private entities.

As with most established urban environments, many properties may have previously been industrial or mass transportation sites, which often means that extra care is taken during redevelopment. Commercial real estate transactions must take environmental issues into consideration. Complex laws can impose significant environmental liabilities on purchasers, sellers, and lenders, whether or not they caused the problem, and whether or not they still own the property.

Important rules published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – USEPA and in Massachusetts and other states offer defenses against environmental liabilities provided that the defendant conducted “all appropriate inquiries” regarding the property at the time of the acquisition, and then took reasonable steps to mitigate the effects of hazardous substances found on the property.

For more information, case studies, events, and articles visit these pages:

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:01 am