By Marilyn Christiano

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

Many cities in the United States are trying to solve a land use problem that has environmental and economic effects. The federal government is trying to help cities work with private developers to clean and reuse what are now empty, polluted spaces.

The problem areas are called brownfields. They are industrial properties that no longer are in use. In most cases, their earlier use created environmental pollution in the soil or in ground water. Brownfields include empty factories, gasoline stations, oil storage centers and other businesses that used polluting substances.

In many areas of the United States, companies that want to expand or open new businesses build in greenfields. Greenfields are undeveloped land such as farmland, woodland or fields that surround cities. Cooperative public and private efforts to clean up and reuse existing brownfields keep development from spreading to what were open spaces.

A conference on "Renewing Sustainable Urbanism" was held last month at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The Department of Urban and Environmental Planning organized it. Planning professionals, government officials and land use experts attended. One of the subjects they discussed was the progress made cleaning up brownfields and protecting greenfields.

The federal government has estimated there are as many as four-hundred-thousand brownfields in the United States. Rebuilding these unused spaces helps communities, private investors and the public. The communities gain jobs and taxes from new businesses and save greenfields from being developed. Private investors profit by reusing less costly space within the city where public services already exist. And everyone gains from the cleanup of a polluted area.

Five years ago, the federal government announced the Brownfields National Partnership Action Agenda. It coordinates the work of twenty federal agencies that can help with cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields. The group has chosen communities to be models for cooperative redevelopment efforts. Success stories include projects in many cities where people are now working and living in what were unused polluted spaces.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Marilyn Christiano.

Voice of America Special English