Brownfields Program Takes Gore's Hammer Award

Brownfields Program Takes Gore's Hammer Award

Vice President Gore’s “Hammer Award” for innovation in government fell to the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday for its Brownfields Program, which helps turn blighted urban areas into thriving communities through prevention, assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of contaminated property.

The Brownfields Program, a collaboration among the EPA, state and local governments, turns formerly blighted properties into communities with new jobs, healthier neighborhoods, and safer streets. Once viewed as liabilities, public hazards, and investment risks, these brownfields have evolved into opportunities for developers, investors, and communities. The brownfields program has provided communities more than 500 pilot grants totaling more than $156 million.

The Hammer Award is presented to teams of federal employees who have made significant contributions in support of reinventing government principles. Carol Browner, an EPA administrator, credited Agency employees for the program’s success:

"The Brownfields Program is a national model for restoring and revitalizing blighted industrial and commercial properties. The driving force behind creating a successful program like this is largely due to the diligent efforts of the dedicated EPA employees being recognized today," Browner said.

How it works

The program works by providing small amounts of seed money to communities to remove environmental uncertainties surrounding properties. This enables the communities to be creative in their redevelopment efforts and leverage private funding for bringing the properties back to life. EPA notes that the program's $200,000 site assessment grants have leveraged more than $2 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding, returned hundreds of properties to productive reuse, and created more than 6,000 jobs.