Brownfield grants: Finding redevelopment funding

More than 450,000 brownfields across the U.S. are contaminated with lead, petroleum, asbestos, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other pollutants. Although redeveloping these brownfield sites holds immense potential for the local economy and the environment, municipalities often are unable to initiate such capital-intensive projects. A brownfield redevelopment project involves environmental risk assessment, planning, site cleanup and construction, among other activities. Unfortunately, local communities often lack the funds to support the required site cleanup and construction. Brownfield grants, loan programs and economic incentives can help bridge this funding gap.

Types of funding for brownfield redevelopment

Redeveloping a brownfield site includes three stages that require specific funding or financing solutions: Predevelopment, development and management. Federal and state programs offer funding options such as loans, grants and economic incentives to assist municipalities in financing a brownfield revitalization project.


The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an extensive brownfield grant program that offers direct funding for various brownfield activities, including assessment, cleanup, revolving loans, research, technical assistance and environmental job training for the local community. Since the 1990s, the U.S. EPA's Brownfields Program, in collaboration with federal and state agencies, has identified and provided resources for brownfield redevelopment. The 2002 Small Business Liability Relief, the Brownfields Revitalization Act and the 2018 BUILD Act expanded the agency's assistance to the public and private sectors for sustainable brownfield cleanup and renewal.

Loan programs

The EPA's brownfield grants help state and local governments establish revolving loans that municipalities or private entities can secure for remediation and redevelopment. The revolving loan funds provide subordinated loans and subgrants to fill funding gaps in the financial mix of a brownfield redevelopment project. Additionally, state agencies may offer municipal grant programs and low-interest loan programs to help municipalities recover brownfield remediation costs.

With several funding options available for brownfield redevelopment, the overarching question is how to apply for brownfield grants and ensure your project qualifies.

Applying for brownfield grants

Many consider the predevelopment phase of a brownfield redevelopment project the riskiest phase, as funds are invested upfront without any guarantees of a return on the investment. To assist municipalities through this project phase, private and public sector funds can apply toward the assessment and land transaction. Before applying for brownfield grants, though, municipalities should conduct site and risk assessments to learn more about the project's feasibility. This is not possible without an experienced environmental consultant who can perform an environmental site assessment and prepare a redevelopment plan.

Once grant specialists have identified the available funding options, the next hurdle is to increase the competitiveness of your grant application. A successful brownfield redevelopment application includes an overall vision and goal that contributes to developing a sustainable environment and a thriving local community. A professional grant writer can help improve a grant proposal by including all such requisite elements.

The expert team at Fehr Graham offers end-to-end assistance for your brownfield redevelopment project with wide-ranging services that include environmental site assessments, grant writing and management, cleanup program coordination, remediation plan development and waste management. With Fehr Graham navigating the funding, assessment and delivery challenges to ensure the successful completion of brownfield redevelopment projects, your community can redevelop a contaminated site into a valuable community asset while avoiding unexpected costs and delayed schedules.

Are you in the middle of writing a grant proposal, land transaction or regulatory action? Fehr Graham's expertise in brownfield redevelopment can ensure your project stays on track and under budget by accessing available money through brownfield grants and other funding opportunities. To learn more about our services, fill out our Contact Us form, or give us a call at 815.394.4700.

Portrait of seth gronewold Joel Zirkle is a Professional Geologist and Certified Groundwater Professional who has been an agent for change in the environmental assessment and remediation world for more than three decades. He has conquered brownfield site remediation and corrective action in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, and conveys complex information in a way clients can understand. As one of the firm’s owners, he strives for accuracy and takes a common sense approach to big challenges. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. or 815.394.4700.