Remediated brownfield sites offer an attractive and underutilized opportunity for siting clean distributed generation (DG) and combined heat and power (CHP), either in newly constructed buildings on a brownfield site or in renovated buildings on a brownfield site. Parties who remediate a contaminated site can be eligible for significant financial incentives from the existing New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) tax credits, coupled with New York State incentives through NYSERDA, and federal tax credits. However, brownfield developers, municipalities, and community-based organizations affiliated with Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOAs) (hereinafter BOA participants) are largely unaware of the benefits and potential opportunities of CHP on sites they are remediating through the BCP and BOA programs.
This project began an educational outreach effort in the brownfield developer and BOA communities on the benefits of installing CHP as part of a brownfield project and cost offsets that can be achieved by bundling the various incentive programs together to the extent still available. The team received positive feedback from these groups once they understood the commercially available CHP technologies on the market, and CHP systems are being effectively implemented as part of actual brownfield projects. However, the fluctuating incentive programs, which have even changed during the course of this contract, pose a real barrier to adoption of CHP on brownfield sites. The feedback received during the educational outreach effort, which included a review of in-the-field case studies, and a developer invitation-only tour of an actual CHP facility, indicated a willingness on the part of developers and BOA participants to consider CHP as an element of their brownfield redevelopment projects, provided: (1) such installations are consistent with an expected rate of return on investment; and (2) the available financial incentives are clear and certain. If New York’s incentive programs for CHP and brownfields can become reliable and consistent, continued education related to CHP technology would very likely result in increased use of CHP technology as part of large scale brownfield redevelopment projects. The study found multiple successful models for the mutually beneficial deployment of CHP in brownfields redevelopment, and each of these models is tied in to a particular set of public policy objectives.
  • CHP matches up well with dense mixed use redevelopment projects that also benefit smart growth, community revitalization, and lowered greenhouse gases;
  • CHP-served industrial parks generate jobs, support community economic development, and encourage a revival of manufacturing by virtue of energy savings and efficiencies;
  • A new generation of CHP-based eco-industrial parks promises a higher success rate than eco-parks of the past, generating not only jobs and economic development, but also waste minimization;
  • CHP can also anchor sustainable controlled-environment agriculture projects that offer the benefits of locally grown produce, while generating jobs and energy for the community.
The energy-efficiency and greenhouse gas-lowering benefits of CHP, when combined with the corresponding community benefits of these redevelopment projects, creates a compelling case that one might think would be reflected in favorable public policies. However, CHP is often a lower priority or in a grey area for energy-related incentives. Land-intensive renewables such as solar and wind tend to garner greater attention, even though they do not match up well with community redevelopment objectives. This analysis illuminates an area of research and public policy that has been largely ignored - the opportunities and benefits presented when redevelopment projects are aided by the energy efficiencies of CHP.