Economic, ecological, and equity dimensions of brownfield redevelopment plans for environmental justice communities in the USA

Mahbubur Meenar, Jordan P. Howell, Jason Hachadorian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This paper employs qualitative content analysis to assess 28 brownfield redevelopment plans produced as part of a US Environmental Protection Agency programme. The analysis framework followed the economic, ecological, and social equity dimensions of sustainable development. The findings illustrate that, in terms of economic dimensions, most plans discussed financing the overall project, but few mentioned site values or the pivotal cost of remediating brownfield sites or addressed questions related to liability, the transfer of ownership of sites, or the end use of remediated sites. In terms of ecological dimensions, while many plans suggested “green” uses of existing brownfields, few discussed the impacts of the plans on urban ecological issues or offered technical feasibility of remediating the sites. In terms of social equity dimensions, half of the plans described potential local jobs stemming from the proposed redevelopment, but many did not discuss the human impacts of remediating contaminated sites or the costs of doing nothing. Most plans mentioned community engagement methods but not their outcomes, making the degree to which the lessons gleaned from such engagement influenced the plans totally unclear. Despite the programme’s explicit focus on the nexus of environmental justice and local environments, many plans struggled to address the topic in favour of tackling broader economic, environmental, and equity issues. Overall, this paper contributes to the understanding of brownfield redevelopment planning by not only summarising and synthesising the tendencies of existing plans but also suggesting strategies to address areas in which current planning efforts fall short.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-915
Number of pages15
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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