1998 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Richard Hoffman <Rhoffman@urbandevelopment.com>
Date: 26 Jan 1998 07:14:35
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Brownfield Benchmark Research
I am conducting research on brownfields for the Council for Urban
Economic Development in D.C.  My project is an attempt to develop a
methodology for benchmarking brownfield projects and to gather this
direct, measurable data for approximately 50-100 sites.   I would be
grateful for any advice or resources that the members of this newsgroup
could provide with respect to the benchmarks I have proposed, efficient
ways to collect this data, and sources for more information.  

Below are my initial thoughts on benchmarking.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts,

-Rich Hoffman
Council for Urban Economic Development (CUED)


I have used three categories of benchmarks:  1) economic, 2)
environmental and 3) social, while recognizing the overlapping nature of
these benefits.  Our focus will be on economic benefits.  Hopefully,
measuring the impacts of brownfield redevelopment will provide economic
development practitioners and other decision makers to weigh investments
in brownfields with other economic development options.


In this section, I will use traditional tools of quantifying economic

1. Public Sector Contribution

How much money did the public sector contribute for each component of
the project (e.g. site acquisition, remediation*, infrastructure,
redevelopment)?  What mechanisms were used (e.g. loan guarantees, bond
financing, tax increment financing)?  

2.  Private Sector Contribution

How much money did the private sector contribute for each component of
the project? How was the funding raised?   

3.  Leverage of Funds 

An essential measure is the amount of private funding leveraged by
public investment. 

4.  Jobs

Define a "job" as a person who has been employed for at least 6 months
in a full-time capacity. 

a.  Quantity

For each project, only measure direct jobs, both created or retained. 
Direct jobs are those that are associated with the project itself.  I
may also choose to consider indirect jobs when evaluating the aggregate
figures.  Indirect jobs are those that result from (or spin off from)
the direct jobs and private sector investment.  Because of the
difficulty in obtaining this number, we rely on a standard multiplier.

b.  Quality

Characterize the quality of the jobs by using average salary as a
proxy.  Derive this figure by obtaining the total payroll and number of
employees from each employer.  I may also use criteria such as job
longevity, turnover, and % of employees above minimum wage.  

c.  Job Attribution

Calculate the cost to the public sector of job creation.   For this
statistic, I will use DIRECT jobs and ALL public funding.  I can also
calculate jobs created per primary public funder to compare with other

5.  Tax base

The total cost of the project minus the remediation costs will serve as
a proxy for the increase to the local tax base.  


I will use the public and private sector investment in remediation (from
data above) as a gauge of the  amount of environmental clean up.  Our
assumption is that the more money spent on clean up, the more
remediation is accomplished.  I will need to factor the land's end use
into this equation to get an accurate picture (e.g. industrial use will
not require same amount of remediation as residential).

Where available, I will apply an EPA risk measurement (e.g. incidence of
cancer/1 million people).  Any suggestions for this?  

Another important measure is the creation of amenities, such as parks. 
We will discuss this if applicable.    


One of the benefits of brownfields projects is to serve as a catalyst to
distressed communities.  While it will be impossible to quantify such
vital qualities as a renewed sense of hope and empowerment, the
following measures will serve as indicators of these benefits:  

% of jobs from local residents (we will cull this data from the total
jobs statistic above), with a comparison to % of local jobs of a
greenfield project if available.    

>From this data, I may calculate commute cost savings if any supporting
studies have been completed (e.g. from the Federal Mass Transit
Administration, EPA or Transportation Research Board) to give us insight
into the attendant environmental and economic benefits of increased
usage of existing infrastructure and avoided highway costs (e.g.
accidents, congestion).   

I will collect demographics data to provide a portrait of the local
community in which the project is based and indicate whether these
communities are benefitting from the project. 

Data will include: whether or not the neighborhood is in a specially
designated zone (e.g. Enterprise Zone), labor force characteristics such
as unemployment rate, population and per capita income; and
socioeconomic characteristics such as % below poverty level and %

Another social benefit of brownfields projects is to serve as a catalyst
for neighborhood revitalization.  Data on tax base improvement, public
investment in infrastructure, and indirect jobs created can be a proxy
for this measurement, although imperfect because of the difficulty in
isolating the impacts of a brownfield project from other economic

The percentage of local residents hired for jobs may offer insight into
the issue of gentrification and the extent to which the project is
helping the local area. 


Finally, I will collect the following information:  

1.  Location and neighborhood demographics

2. Major players (public, private, and non-profit sectors). I will
assess whether the project is driven by the public or private sector.  

3. Date project completed and date of survey/data 

These figures will determine the "measurement window" of each project, a
critical number as the benefits of public investment often increase
dramatically with time.  

4. Description and size of project.

5. Key factors (e.g. new owner signs a covenant not to sue) and gauge of
the importance of public sector involvement.  

Thanks for your help!

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