Greener Cleanups

Cleaning up contaminated sites improves environmental and public health conditions. However, cleanup activities use energy, water, and material resources to achieve cleanup objectives and therefore create their own environmental footprint. Greener cleanups are practices, processes and technologies that minimize the environmental footprint of cleanup activities.

In 2007, Illinois EPA developed a simple matrix of best management practices for use at Illinois cleanups, categorized by air, land, water and energy impacts. Since then, we have participated with U.S. EPA, other state regulators and the broader cleanup community in a consensus-based standards development process to create a voluntary guide. The guide contains clear definitions, methods, expectations and goals that can be used by all stakeholders, making it easier to implement greener cleanups across regulatory and voluntary cleanup programs.

The ASTM International Standard Guide for Greener Cleanups E2893-13 is compatible withU.S. EPA's Principles for Greener Cleanups and uses the same five core elements:

  1. Total energy use and renewable energy use;
  2. Air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions;
  3. Water use and impacts to water resources;
  4. Materials management and waste reduction; and
  5. Land management and ecosystems protection.

The Standard Guide provides a process and technical direction to integrate greener practices into any phase of a cleanup project. It has a robust list of 160+ best management practices that can be readily implemented, and guidelines for quantifying the environmental footprint of cleanup activities. Additionally, the Standard Guide promotes transparency and public availability of information relating to the decision-making process and communication of outcomes across the five core elements.

At Illinois EPA, protection of human health and the environment remains the top priority. The Standard Guide clearly states that "this guide should not be used as a justification to avoid, minimize, or delay implementation of specific cleanup activities. Nor should this guide be used as a justification for selecting cleanup activities that compromise stakeholder interests or goals for the site."

Partnering with the ASTM team, Illinois EPA collaborated with Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund borrowers to pilot the Standard Guide at four sites.The evaluations conformed to the best management practices process using the version balloted by ASTM in March 2013.

Illinois EPA recognizes the ASTM Standard Guide as a valuable resource for implementing greener cleanups.

Please note: use of the standard guide is voluntary and independent of Illinois EPA's oversight; that is, the BMP process results and quantitative evaluations are not part of our review and approval process.

For more information about greener cleanups: