NJIT played a prominent role in the National Brownfields Training Conference sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International City/County Management Association.
Held last December in Pittsburgh, the conference brought together several thousand environmental professionals, government officials, engineers, community representatives, real estate developers and investors, academics and others to learn, share ideas and experiences —and build new relationships focused on cleaning up contaminated land.
The conference, which provided a unique opportunity for people tackling the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites, included a dynamic educational program of speakers, discussions, mobile workshops and other learning formats, calibrated to provide attendees with case study examples, program updates and useful strategies for meeting brownfield challenges head on.
Colette Santasieri, who is the PI for the TAB program and the executive director of policy and planning innovation for civil infrastructure and environment, served on the EPA’s conference planning committee, and participated in the selection of the educational sessions included in the conference. Santasieri also created, organized, and led a team of nationally recognized speakers from federal, state and local government agencies from across the country in an interactive Brownfields Basics Workshop for participants to learn about brownfields, and gain more in depth knowledge of four hot topics: funding, housing, health fields, and sustainable communities. Santasieri also created and moderated two educational sessions: “Driving Green Infrastructure Forward: A Tale of Two PA Cities” and “Brownfields and Transportation: Bridging the Past and Connecting the Future.”
Sean Vroom, director of policy and planning innovation for civil infrastructure and environment, was instrumental in planning two redevelopment rodeos, which gave communities the opportunity to present their brownfield redevelopment projects to a panel of development experts. Elizabeth Limbrick, project manager of policy and planning innovation for civil infrastructure and environment, created and moderated a session on tackling polychlorinated biphenyls contaminants often encountered on brownfield sites, presented in the Brownfields Basics Workshop, and participated in a learning lab for nonprofits. Gary White, project manager of policy and planning innovation for civil infrastructure and environment, organized “Open up a T.A.B.,” a brownfields networking event, and helped organize the Environmental Justice Caucus.
Santasieri, Vroom, Limbrick and White also conducted “Tea and Sympathy (& Food for Your Thoughts) - Office Hours,” a workshop in which they provided on-the-spot technical assistance to conference attendees facing challenges of identifying, assessing, cleaning up and redeveloping brownfield sites.
Since 2008, NJIT, with funds provided by the EPA, has sponsored a TAB program. Presently, NJIT is the EPA designated TAB provider in Regions 1, 3 and 4, providing free technical assistance to any government entity or nonprofit interested in tackling their contaminated sites. NJIT, in collaboration with Kansas State University, also provides nationwide technical assistance to brownfield communities and technical assistance to tribal nations.
For more information on NJIT TAB and NJII’s brownfields activities, please contact Colette Santasieri.