After cleanup of a brownfield site is complete, deep excavation for construction of basements and sub-grade parking garages often generates large quantities of clean native soil that has to be hauled off site and disposed—usually at a cost of more than $25 for each ton (one ton is about as much soil as you could pile in a pyramid on your kitchen table). This soil often ends up in inner-city, open-air soil transfer stations. These facilities tend to cluster in disadvantaged communities—known as environmental justice neighborhoods—that bear a disproportionate burden of truck traffic, congestion, vehicle exhaust and nuisance dust emissions. Meanwhile, clean soil is routinely needed on new development projects, and public and private sector developers routinely pay as much as $45 for each ton of soil delivered to a construction site. Truck transport of this soil can often be many miles from quarry sources far outside of NYC.
OER has established an innovative new soil exchange program, the NYC Clean Soil Bank, that promotes sustainable soil reuse (recycling) and simultaneously solves a whole series of soil management problems. Under this program, OER works with developers of brownfield sites enrolled in the NYC Voluntary Cleanup Program to find other development sites that need clean soil and enable a free soil exchange between sites that:
- Eliminates soil disposal costs for brownfield developers;
- Shortens soil transport distances, lowers highway congestion and reduces truck emissions;
- Eliminates reliance on inner-city, soil transfer stations and lowers associated environmental justice community impacts; and
- Eliminates soil purchase costs for City and brownfield developments that need clean soil.
Lower costs for development of these brownfield sites—savings from the NYC Clean Soil bank is commonly more than $50,000 to $100,000 per project—creates a powerful new incentive for choosing brownfield sites for development. OER works closely with City agencies to find nearby exchange options and simultaneously save the City taxpayers the cost for soil purchase. OER also enables exchanges to other brownfield sites that need soil, lowering soil purchase costs and offsetting some of the costs for cleanup. Importantly, the NYC Clean Soil Bank is an important brownfield financial incentive program that costs the City nothing to operate but instead generates substantial government cost savings—a sustainability triple bottom line.
The NYC Clean Soil Bank is authorized by the State of New York Department of Environmental Conservation under a 6NYCRR Part 360 (Solid Waste) Beneficial Use Determination. Use of this soil exchange requires enrolment in the NYC Voluntary Cleanup Program. It is easy to use and can help you find an exchange site that works for your development schedule. If you are interested in participating in the program, you can start the process by filling out one of the enrollment forms and Contact OER (Samantha Morris) and ask about the NYC Clean Soil Bank.