Sustainable Remediation

By: Tom Silverman

Sustainable remediation (or “Green Remediation”) can be broadly defined as a remedy or combination of remedies that benefit human health and the environment through sensible use of limited resources (Sustainable Remediation Forum, March 2014). Sustainable remediation is important because remediation activities result in environmental impacts, including energy use, air and water emissions, and waste disposal.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) defines Sustainable Remediation as including the practice of considering all environmental effects of implementing a remedy and incorporating options to minimize the environmental footprint of clean up actions.

Sustainable remediation includes a blend of social, environmental, and economic components and is driven by the following:

  • USEPA Executive Order 13514: Federal agencies shall increase energy efficiency; measure, report, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from direct and indirect activities; conserve and protect water resources through efficiency, reuse, and stormwater management; eliminate waste, recycle, and prevent pollution.
  • USEPA Strategic Plan 2011-2015: USEPA’s Superfund program will implement its green remediation strategy to reduce the energy, water, and materials used during site cleanups while ensuring that protective remedies are implemented.


USEPA implements Sustainable Remediation through:

  • Best Management Practices;
  • USEPA’s Methodology for Understanding and Reducing a Project’s Environmental Footprint (February 2012); and
  • USEPA’s Green Remediation Focus Page at


The social and environmental elements of sustainable remediation include consideration of impacts the remediation activities generate from air pollution, water and soil contamination, and disproportionate proximity of a project to low-income or poverty neighborhoods. Sustainable remediation involves lessening these social and environmental impacts from minimizing truck traffic and overall neighborhood impacts to offering reuse of sites and having overall minimal impact from the remediation activities. The economic element involves using sustainable practices to provide direct or indirect economic benefits for the project.

Other ways to stay involved on the most current practices and issues related to sustainable remediation:


USEPA. (2012). Methodology for Understanding and Reducing a Project’s Environmental Footprint. February, 2012
Sustainable Remediation Forum. March, 2014. Available at:

Thomas Silverman has more than 15 years’ experience in hydrogeology working on a diverse range of projects including coal seam gas (CSG) water management, site investigations, soil and groundwater remediation, numerical groundwater modeling, physical and chemical data evaluation, aquifer testing and analysis, drilling techniques, and groundwater, surface water, sediment, and soil sampling…
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