Understanding brownfield projects

While a project developed on an undeveloped land is a greenfield project, a brownfield project is one that is developed on land that is already used

There are two types of infrastructure projects – greenfield development and brownfield development. While a project developed on previously undeveloped land is a greenfield project, a brownfield project is exactly the opposite of this. Read on to know more about brownfield development.


Greenfield vs brownfield project


What is brownfield project?

Brownfield is a term used in urban planning, which means land that has been used previously but is lying vacant or unused now. This land could have been contaminated by industrial waste or hazardous waste or might have suspected oil contamination. A brownfield site was once a commercially developed parcel but currently not in use for any purpose. Such brownfield land parcels are found mostly in western countries, which have been used for oil refineries, railroads, gas stations or heavy manufacturing plants.

See also: What is a Greenfield Project?


Why are brownfield sites preferred?

Since land becomes degenerated if it is left unused, government authorities prefer developing and regenerating the used land, so that the area does not go waste. However, it is always expensive to make brownfield sites fit for development, since companies have to spare expenses on clearing the waste on the land and getting the required permissions for its development. Moreover, builders need to hire experts and technicians to remediate the brownfield site, to remove possible contamination completely. In some cases, it might still persist and add to environmental pollution.


Greenfield vs brownfield project

Greenfield projectBrownfield project
Sites that have not earlier been built on, are called greenfield.A site that has been built on earlier, is called brownfield.
Often found in rural / countryside areas.Normally associated with urban areas.
Using greenfield sites is not always sustainable, as there is too much pressure on the rural-urban fringe.Brownfield development is more sustainable, as it reduces the pressure on greenfield sites.
Greenfield sites are often on the edge of towns and cities and may have better access and less congestion.Providing public transport networks is easier in central areas where the population densities are high.

See also: Land measurement units in India



What is an example of a brownfield?

Abandoned oil refineries, chemical factories and heavy manufacturing units, are some examples of brownfield sites.

Why is brownfield better than greenfield?

Brownfield redevelopment can be cheaper, because vital infrastructure (drainage, electricity, roads, transport networks, etc.) may already exist.

What are brownfield sites used for?

Brownfield sites are generally redeveloped for housing and commercial buildings, open spaces for recreation and even for community areas.


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