3Dforms U.K. Engineering Consultants Discusses Novel ways to Opening up Brownfield Sites to communities

With intense discussions within both media and policy makers ranks on the future of the affordable housing for communities raging, brownfield sites have taken on the obvious center stage as a solution to this melee. And indeed these sites are being opened up to new builds by the day in efforts to not only meet demands in housing needs the nation finds itself in but also as part of bigger social and economic regeneration schemes of affected communities. One of the lures to this is the fact that these sites present the most logical option to sustainable residential redevelopment especially in regeneration areas in cities and towns up and the country as opposed to green sites.

The most successful projects are those that tap well into local community including local authorities Communities, SMEs and others to help develop innovative solutions such as financing strategies, creative environmental response programs, and cost-effective site preparation strategies to transform these brownfield sites into charming and vibrant spaces communities will be proud of. Such transformations can take years or decades to plan and implement often in stages to help meet the needs of every party.

The Barriers

These are projects that will most often face formidable physical and financial barriers for speedy redevelopment of what often appears to be abandoned open fields.

Other challenges often lie beneath what the eyes can see and these can include presence of buried wastes, contaminated soil, and presence of buried industrial basements, pits, footings and foundations.

This will most certainly translate into large sums of money and time that would be required to prepare entire sites for redevelopment. This is the reason local consultants and contractors and all other stake holders need to come up with a staged planning approach in the form of environmental response actions/ impact assessments, excavation and demolition of buried basements and other structures, and site preparation, all timed to correspond to the availability of any brownfield redevelopment incentives on which success of the redevelopment often depends.

Novel Approaches

Costs and time can quickly spiral out of control without coming up with novel and simpler ways of approach of such developments.

Financing: Such Novel ways can be helpful in helping mitigate environmental and site preparation costs and coming up with creative funding models such as using multiple, leveraged brownfield financing sources. Successful schemes that often run into the millions of pounds can be of multifaceted models with a combination of any of private, government, regional, and local grants and loans and tax arrangements financing which easily add an extra layer of complexity to these types of projects. Thankfully, most bring about immense benefits to local communities.

Engineering: dealing with waste from brownfield sites will most certainly be one of the leading challenges to their success. For example, 100,000s of cubic waste may have to be removed only to be replaced with an equivalent amount of clean fill.

Using this traditional approach of removing and disposing the waste in a landfill and replacing it with imported fill can come with a huge bill with results often counter to the aims and objectives of these types of projects in terms of delivering on environmental sustainability.

An Alternate approach will be to swap the waste fill for clean soil from beneath roads and parks in the development site and cap the fill with pavement and landscaping. This can be a good and sustainable approach to reduced environmental and human health risks, reduced resource use, and save millions in costs, in the long run helping the project economically viable. Consulting engineers such as building materials consulting engineers can help safeguard compliance by testing all backfill on the project to ensure the project specifications are being delivered.

Involving the right sets of innovative engineering consultants to work alongside the project will help not only ensure compliance but reduce project costs. For example, sometimes during basement excavations, a variety of contaminated media, including more coal ash, hazardous wastes, PCB-contaminated sludge and soil, and soils contaminated with chlorinated solvents and gasoline are encountered. Consultants will be able to characterize these and have them properly disposed.

Another example is when during construction, constructability challenges are again encountered which might need properly addressing in such ways as removal of fill, installing subsurface concrete structures, or having to deal with former wastewater treatment facilities, pipes, utilities, contaminated soil and other debris. Such challenges can only be resolved through careful planning which might lead to replacing the excavated basements with clean fill for parts where future homes would be built and with waste fill for where roads and parks would lie.

The right consulting engineers will also come in of help when its required that demolition and remediation specifications are followed to the letter such as maximum reclamation/recycling of materials removed from the site to maximize the sustainability of site preparation activities. The amount of recycling to be done can often run into the 10,000 tons of concrete, steel and other materials to be recycled.

About Joas Serugga and 3DForms UK Consulting Engineers

Joas Serugga (MSc, MSc) is a managing partner at 3DForms UK, a Manchester based Engineering Consultancy.

3DForms U.K, is a leading independent materials, product and corrosion engineering consultancy. As independent engineers with a vast array of engineering specialism we help projects across the board spanning from construction, product development through to materials science and corrosion engineering. We have a specialist interest in materials advanced analysis for advanced materials using XRay, STEM, TEM or SEM and corrosion control, testing and analysis.

Contact us at www.3dforms.co.uk or email: info@3dforms.co.uk