Environmentally Responsible Redevelopment and Reuse (ER3)

The Environmentally Responsible Redevelopment and Reuse (ER3) Initiative uses enforcement and other Agency-wide incentives to promote sustainable cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated sites.

ER3 initiative logo

The cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated sites produces significant environmental benefits and, in most cases, is preferable to a property remaining underutilized or idle. Current non-sustainable development practices, however, can also have significant environmental impacts such as increased energy consumption, global climate change, wildlife habitat destruction, combined sewer overflows, and depleting scarce natural resources.

Sustainable development provides a multi-faceted, long-term approach which balances economically sound development with environmental protection and social responsibility. ER3 incorporates sustainable development principles in cleanup and redevelopment projects resulting in environmental, economic, and social benefits beyond what are usually achieved in more traditional cleanup scenarios. ER3 complements a variety of programs and approaches to sustainability and sustainable development that EPA has adopted. For more information, please visit the Sustainability website.

By incorporating sustainable practices and principles into their projects, developers of contaminated sites can not only minimize the impact of the project on the environment, but also ensure economic profitability and social equity.

Logo of Harvard University's Bright Idea recognition program

On September 25, 2012, Harvard University's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation Exit at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized the EPA's Environmentally Responsible Redevelopment and Reuse (ER3) Initiative as a "Bright Idea" for environmental protection and conservation. ER3 is one of 111 government initiatives recognized in 2012 by the Ash Center. Read the press release.

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How ER3 Works

The primary components of ER3 are:

  • Identify and provide enforcement and Agency-wide incentives to developers and property owners to encourage sustainable cleanup and development.
  • Develop partnerships with federal, state, public, and private entities to establish a network of knowledge and expertise on sustainable development issues.
  • Promote sustainable redevelopment of contaminated properties through education and outreach.

ER3 Philosophy

By promoting and facilitating environmentally responsible redevelopment at formerly contaminated sites, the goal of ER3 is to establish the next generation of environmental protection - one that proactively prevents and/or reduces contamination in the environment, while fostering econonomic development and promoting social equity.

To achieve this goal, EPA, through ER3, will collaborate with federal, state, public, and private partners to identify, develop, and deliver incentives to encourage developers and property owners to implement sustainable development practices during the redevelopment of contaminated sites.

ER3 builds on EPA's efforts to use redevelopment and revitalization of contaminated sites as an effective tool to spur cleanups that otherwise may not occur. For more information on Agency-wide efforts to promote redevelopment of Brownfields, please see information on EPA's Brownfields website and the Superfund Redevelopment Program website.

EPA’s Strategic Plan has five goals. The sustainability concepts embedded within ER3 can positively help EPA move in the direction of its strategic goals. Housed in the enforcement office, ER3 provides yet another tool to promote “effective, consistent enforcement . . .critical to achieving the human-health and environmental benefits expected from our environmental laws.” (Goal 5 – Enforcing Environmental Laws).

Implementing ER3’s sustainability principles directly affects Goal 3 (Cleaning Up Communities and Advancing Sustainable Development) and Goal 4 (Ensuring the Safety of Chemicals and Preventing Pollution). Further, cleaning up contaminated sites in a sustainable manner helps reduce potential sources of pollution to our waterways (Goal 2 – Protecting America’s Waters) and through the use of renewable energy, ER3 can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere and help reduce the impacts of climate change (Goal 1 - Taking Action on Climate Change and Improving Air Quality).

Learn More: ER3 incentives

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