April 1, 2009- As much as $2 trillion of real estate may be undervalued due to the presence of environmental contamination. The National Brownfield Association (NBA) says environmental hazards are estimated to be present in 20 to 50 percent of all industrial real estate properties.
Abandoned gas stations and dry cleaners, railroad properties, factories, and closed military bases all may leave toxins in the land. No one knows exactly how many “brownfields” there are in the United States, but estimates range from 400,000 to more than a million, according to the NBA.
Brownfields can be significant hazards to ecological systems, water quality, soil quality, and human health. One company that is dedicated to cleaning up these toxic sites is Kleinfelder, based in San Diego, Calif. CEO Bill Siegel said 40 percent of their work is environmental—planning new projects and cleaning up old sites.