One consequence of being the nation’s historic industrial heartland is that the Northeast-Midwest region suffers disproportionately from vacant contaminated properties, or brownfields. The Institute has been at the forefront of brownfields policy development and information dissemination since the early 1990s, when its staff organized the first brownfields conference in Chicago in 1991 and published the landmark “New Life for Old Buildings.” The Institute’s objective is to accelerate the productive reuse of brownfields and thereby help localities reach the environmental, economic development, and fiscal stability goals that are served when unproductive and contaminated land is redeveloped.
The Institute provides information to Congress, particularly the Northeast-Midwest Congressional and Senate Coalitions, on federal policy issues that relate to brownfields redevelopment. It has been involved in documenting model and creative brownfields redevelopment policies, programs, and projects. By making this information generally available, the Institute facilitates the spread of best practices and accelerates cleanup and redevelopment. The Institute also seeks to clarify and quantify the environmental and economic impacts of brownfields redevelopment. This information is valuable to stakeholders at the federal, state, and local levels because accurate information can be used to estimate the impacts of any proposed policy changes or adjustments in funding levels that affect capacity to stimulate brownfields redevelopment.