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Greener Cleanups

Greener Cleanup Contacts

Land and Chemicals Division

Superfund Division

Air Division


As part of its mission to protect human health and the environment, the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency is dedicated to developing and promoting innovative cleanup strategies that restore contaminated sites to productive and sustainable use, and reduce associated costs.

EPA strives for cleanup programs that reduce negative impacts on the environment, use natural resources and energy efficiently, minimize or eliminate pollution at its source, use renewable energy and recycled materials whenever possible, and reduce waste to the greatest extent possible. The practice of "greener cleanups" uses these strategies to consider all environmental effects of remedy implementation for contaminated sites, and incorporates options to maximize the net environmental benefit of cleanup actions.

Greener Cleanups:

The practice of considering all environmental effects of remedy implementation and incorporating options to maximize the net environmental benefit of cleanup actions.

Interim Resource Guide: Greener Cleanups through Sustainable Materials Management - May 2001

The goal of greener cleanups (also known as "Green Remediation") is to reduce the demand placed on the environment during a cleanup, while achieving the same level of cleanup and protection. Including more sustainable practices in site cleanups will minimize the environmental and energy "footprints" of all actions taken during a project lifecycle. Best operating practices emphasize the need to more closely evaluate the core elements of a cleanup project:

Introduction to Green Remediation fact sheet (PDF) (2pp, 141K About PDF) May 2011

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Greener Cleanups as part of Greener Approaches to Land Revitalization

Greener cleanup approaches are part of EPA's overall push for more environmental sustainability in its remediation and reuse programs. The sequence of activities -- and examples of some common techniques -- are displayed in the following diagram from EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Greener Approaches in Land Revitalization (PDF) (1p, 49K About PDF).

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Greener Cleanups in Region 5's Land and Chemicals Division:

Greener cleanup approaches are a priority for the Land and Chemicals Division ("LCD") at EPA Region 5. Working in conjunction with the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery in EPA Headquarters, Region 5 LCD wants to partner with industry to facilitate greener techniques at all of the cleanups it oversees.

Examples of common and relatively easy greener cleanup techniques you should consider:

Some of the areas LCD oversees that relate to greener cleanups are:

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Region 5 Greener Cleanup Interim Policy


The goal of U.S. EPA Region 5's Greener Cleanup Interim Policy is to enhance the environmental benefits of federal cleanup programs by promoting technologies and practices that are sustainable. This policy also identifies coordinators for greener cleanups for the Superfund and Land and Chemicals Divisions. The objectives of this Greener Cleanup Interim Policy are to:


This Greener Cleanup (GC) Interim Policy applies to all Superfund cleanups including those performed by Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs), States or Tribes through Cooperative Agreements, EPA and/or the Army Corps of Engineer contractors, and Federal Facilities; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) corrective action cleanups performed under EPA oversight; EPA-led Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) cleanups; and cleanup work implemented through EPA's Brownfields grant program. This policy is the first step for Region 5 with regard to Greener Cleanups. In the longer-term, Region 5 is working with representatives from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin to develop a Region 5 Greener Cleanup Strategy that will promote this policy for inclusion in state-authorized and other state-lead cleanup programs and describe data collection and evaluation efforts needed to develop a final regional GC policy.


The Policy encourages cleanup practices that:

Use of these and other green remediation technologies are the "point of departure" for Superfund, RCRA, LUST, and Brownfields cleanups, and will be standard unless a site-specific evaluation demonstrates impracticability or favors an alternative green approach. This Greener Cleanup Interim Policy does not change clean-up goals, but calls for the use of environmentally sustainable methods to achieve those cleanup goals. A comprehensive set of greener approaches to site cleanup may be found at www.clu-in.org/greenremediation and www.epa.gov/region09/cleanup-clean-air. Additional tools and technologies for EPA staff may be found at the following intranet site: www.epa.gov/oswer/greencleanups/index.html.

Region 5 intends to measure the cost differentials and environmental benefits associated with implementing this Greener Cleanup Interim Policy. Examples include, but are not limited to, tracking quantities of materials reduced, reused, or recycled; carbon or greenhouse gas reductions; and water conserved or replenished. The Region may use existing progress reporting requirements in enforcement instruments, grants, and contracts to collect this data.

Identification of GC Coordinators

The Greener Cleanup Coordinators for the Superfund and Land and Chemicals Divisions of Region 5 are:

The GC Coordinators will coordinate all Superfund and Land and Chemicals GC activities and participate in regional and national workgroups regarding greener cleanups, including those involving the development of metrics and definitions/measure of progress. The GC Coordinators will also develop and participate in cross-divisional teams and develop networks and electronic information sharing.

Longer-Term Actions

Region 5 will continue to work with the Region 5 EPA/State Greener Cleanup Workgroup, which includes representatives from various cleanup programs in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, to develop a Region 5 Greener Cleanup Strategy (Strategy) that will promote this policy for inclusion in state-authorized and other state-lead cleanup programs and describe data collection and evaluation efforts needed to develop a final regional GC policy.

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In the Works at EPA

Best Management Practices

OSWER is working with private and public partners to foster the use of best management practices ("BMPs") for greener cleanups at contaminated sites throughout the United States. OSWER is documenting the state of BMPs, identifying opportunities for improvement, establishing a community of BMP practitioners, and developing mechanisms and tools to help site cleanup and reuse stakeholders make informed decisions about green cleanup strategies.

Voluntary Standards

EPA is considering options to develop a voluntary standards and verification system that evaluates and recognizes efforts to maximize the net environmental benefit of cleaning up contaminated sites. These green cleanup standards would guide and stimulate efficient, cost-effective, and low-impact site remediation by encouraging property owners, developers, and communities to go beyond state and federal requirements for cleanup as well as land revitalization projects. OSWER and EPA regional offices are currently working with state and other federal agencies to assist ASTM International as it develops voluntary green cleanup standards. For more information on EPA voluntary green cleanup standards, and to find the most appropriate contacts, please see the following fact sheet for the Green Cleanup Standards Initiative (PDF) (2pp, 100K About PDF).

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Interim Resource Guide: Greener Cleanups through Sustainable Materials Management

This resource guide, released by Region 5 in May 2001, will help you find opportunities to:

The document addresses benefits, techniques, and specifications, and includes a number of project spotlights to give real-world examples of these techniques being used in remediations around the Midwest.

Greener Cleanups through Sustainable Materials Management: Region 5 Interim Resource Guide (PDF) (14 pp, 890K) May 2011

Key Documents:

The OSWER document Incorporating Sustainable Environmental Practices into Remediation of Contaminated Sites, often referred to as the "green remediation primer" (PDF), (56pp, 814K About PDF) is a good starting point if you are interested in learning more about greener cleanups, the available technologies, and the successes experienced at sites across the U.S.

Reduction in energy use is an overarching core element of greener cleanups. Reduced energy means reduced operating costs, and will often translate into reduced emissions of green house gases. The Smart Energy Resources Guide (PDF) (200pp, 5M About PDF)is a great starting place for understanding the different aspects of energy usage and how they can be optimized with respect to your project.

EPA's Introduction to Energy Conservation and Production at Waste Cleanup Sites (PDF) (36pp, 848K About PDF) is also invaluable to understanding and evaluating energy use at a site.

Examples of Best Management Practices for Core Elements (PDF) (1p, 48K About PDF) provides numerous examples of greener cleanups techniques.
Best Management Practices for Excavation and Surface Restoration (PDF) (4pp, 238K About PDF) is the first of a series of documents expected to come out in 2009, serving as quick references for greener techniques that can be used for each major remediation technology.

Recover Your Resources (PDF) (8pp, 2M About PDF) provides information related to reducing, reusing, and recycling construction and demolition materials at land revitalization projects.

If you would like to learn more about a specific remediation technology, perhaps the best place to start is EPA's Road Map to Understanding Innovative Technology Options for Brownfields Investigation and Cleanup created by the Brownfields and Land Revitalization Technology Support Center ("BTSC") Exit EPA Disclaimer. The EPA created the BTSC to help decision-makers evaluate strategies to streamline the site investigation and cleanup process, and identify and review information about complex technology options. The Road Map provides a general outline of the steps in the investigation and cleanup of a site and explores the range of innovative technology options and resources available. The Section in the Road Map entitled "Assessment of Cleanup Options" provides short summaries of each of the many detailed technical documents available on the BTSC web site for each remedial technology.

EPA's Directory of Technical Assistance for Land Revitalization (PDF) (129pp, 2M About PDF)provides information about additional technical assistance available from federal agencies to assist EPA regional, state and local government personnel in assessment and cleanup decisions at brownfield, reuse, and revitalization sites.

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Web Sites

The U.S. EPA Green Remediation Focus Website includes helpful items such as:

Technical Information, which targets related documents concerning "whole cleanup" sustainability; guidance and policy; renewable energy; design, construction, and operations; and system optimization;

Profiles & Case Studies of Green Remediation, which illustrate BMP applications during project planning or in the field at 22 Superfund, RCRA, federal facility, brownfield, or state/voluntary cleanup sites;

Additional Resources: which are available from other federal and state agencies, industry and advisory groups, and related EPA programs or issue areas.

EPA's Coal Combustion Products Partnership program is a cooperative effort between the U.S. E PA, the American Coal Ash Association, the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, and the Electric Power Research Institute to help promote the beneficial use of coal combustion products and the environmental benefits that result from their use, such as their use in concrete.

Clean Diesel: There are a number of good sites related to EPA's Clean Diesel initiative. The overarching Clean Diesel page will link you to the majority of EPA activities. There is also a compendium of suggested construction clean diesel contract language and fact sheets addressing diesel emissions.

Two tools that can be helpful for quantifying emissions are the fleet spreadsheet and the Diesel Emissions Quantifier. The fleet spreadsheet is an excel file which helps you assemble the parameters necessary for quantifying emission reductions. The Diesel Emissions Quantifier is a web-based tool that allows you to calculate the emissions reductions.

The Illinois EPA Greener Cleanup Website Exit EPA Disclaimer has several very useful tools, including a simple matrix to guide site owners and consultants in choosing sustainable practices that can be applied to site assessment, planning and design, and cleanup. In addition, this Illinois EPA web site provides an expanded greener cleanups matrix which lists individual actions, followed by a qualitative ranking of their level of difficulty and feasibility (sub-categorized by cost, schedule and technical complexity). The benefits of each action to air, water, land and energy are also identified.

The Illinois EPA Greener Cleanup Website includes a diagram (PDF) (1p, 532K About PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimer that presents greener cleanup concepts specific to tank cleanup sites in a one-page, big picture view. It also includes a flow chart (PDF) (3pp, 160K About PDF) Exit EPA Disclaimerwhich identifies 17 greener cleanup activities that can be undertaken during early action activities, free product removal, sampling, soil remediation, groundwater remediation, and the associated off-site impacts.

The Minnesota PCA has created a Green Remediation Toolkit Exit EPA Disclaimer to help facilitate greener practices for business, site development, and site cleanups.

The Wisconsin DNR's Remediation and Redevelopment Program has embarked on an initiative called Wisconsin's Initiative for Sustainable Cleanups Exit EPA Disclaimer ("WISC"). The DNR's "WISC" web site continues the Remediation and Redevelopment Program's history of, and continued interest in, applying innovation to a strong foundation of environmental protection and economic benefit. WISC emphasizes the applicability of sustainable technologies in site remediation. Saving energy, reducing greenhouse gases and minimizing waste through reuse and recycling are all aspects of WISC.

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