Green Remediation

What is Green Remediation?

Green Remediation is the application of technologies and approaches that enhance a cleanup project’s environmental, social, and economic footprints. It is a holistic approach that incorporates sustainability concepts and life-cycle thinking over a broad scope and time horizon.

Because the materials used and the energy consumed in a cleanup impacts beyond the site, the environmental footprint of a cleanup activity exceeds the site’s physical boundary. Green Remediation assessments identify potential impacts that may have been discounted, or not included, in traditional assessments, and address those that occur on local, regional, and global scales. It includes the direct and indirect releases of contaminants, the consumption of raw materials, the production, collection, and disposal of wastes. These assessments will also include social and economic impact analyses, such as analyses of noise or visual nuisance impacts upon the community that could be mitigated by early stakeholder involvement in the planning process, or the consideration of opportunities for employment and job training by members of low-income communities that may be adjacent to or affected in the past by the contaminated site (i.e. environmental justice).

The scope of the term can apply to an entire cleanup project beginning with the site investigation phase, to implementation of the treatment plan, and continuing through the operations, monitoring, maintenance and optimization phases of the project.

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DTSC’s Interim Advisory for Green Remediation-December 2009

The Interim Advisory for Green Remediation (get the document here) is intended for project managers, responsible parties, and environmental consultants performing sustainability or green remediation assessments at cleanup sites. DTSC’s Green Remediation Team prepared this advisory to introduce the concepts of sustainability and life-cycle thinking. The advisory also shows how these concepts can be incorporated into any stage of a cleanup project, including site characterization, treatment alternative selection, remedial design implementation, long-term monitoring, operation and maintenance, and closure.

DTSC created a simple tool: the green remediation evaluation matrix (GREM): get the Excel Tool here. The GREM can be used to perform qualitative comparisons of treatment alternatives. The Advisory also references other tools that can be used for calculating green house gas (GHG) emissions, energy consumption, and life-cycle assessments

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DTSC Green Remediation Initiative

The Green Remediation Initiative is a DTSC effort to promote the use of green technologies and sustainable approaches to site cleanup whenever appropriate. It can result in projects that utilize reused or recycled materials and minimize the consumption of natural resources; use less energy or are supplied by renewable energy sources; and generate less solid and liquid waste and fewer air emissions, including greenhouse gases, than do conventional approaches.

The Interim Advisory for Green Remediation is one product of the initiative. Another is the international symposium that was hosted by DTSC in February 2009 titled Global Perspectives on Green Remediation--Making Clean "Green", described below.

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DTSC Green Remediation Team

The Green Remediation Team was formed in February 2007 to promote the use of green considerations in site investigation and cleanup. Following the release of the Green Remediation Advisory, the team expects to hold workshops to train DTSC cleanup staff in using the GREM tool. The team’s goals are to continue with the development of the GREM; assist staff in applying the tool to cleanup projects; propose incentives; identify needs for legislative, regulatory or policy changes; and assist the department in estimating GHG emission reduction potential at cleanup sites within California. The team is coordinating with other nationwide teams to develop DTSC’s initiative and create standards for green and sustainable remediation.

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Feb. 4, 2009 DTSC Symposium: Global Perspectives on Green Remediation—Making Clean ‘Green’

DTSC, in cooperation with U.S. EPA Region IX and the Groundwater Resources Association, hosted a free, one-day symposium titled Global Perspectives on Green Remediation--Making Clean "Green". The symposium brought together national and international environmental cleanup consultants, public and private sector entities restoring contaminated sites, brownfield developers, academicians, and regulators. The purpose was to encourage integration of "green" considerations into remediation decisions. International speakers from England and Canada participated in this event. They joined other experts who shared case studies and tools for assessing the carbon footprint, health and safety risk, and other impacts from the application of green or sustainable cleanup alternatives. The above link includes an agenda, from which speakers' biographies and presentations can be reviewed. The symposium previewed concepts now found in the Advisory (get the document) and presented breaking information on climate change revisions to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Other presentations are available at the above link and covered U.S. EPA's Green Remediation Primer, prospects for a Green Remediation certification program, and its Climate Change & Contaminated Lands Initiative; as well as a technical white paper under development by the U.S. Sustainable Remediation Forum (SuRF).

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Additional Resources


For additional information, please contact: Mr. Tayseer Mahmoud

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