Contaminated Land & Construction - Review of the Year 2008

It may not be the sexiest of environmental topics, but the contaminated land sector yet again demonstrated its importance in 2008.

Construction and contaminated land went their separate ways on edie this year, with their own dedicated channels

Construction and contaminated land went their separate ways on edie this year, with their own dedicated channels

And edie chose this year to recognise just how important the sector is by giving contaminated land a channel all to itself in autumn, and moving the ever-expanding world of green construction to its own dedicated Green Buildings channel.

But back at the beginning of the year, the channel formerly known as Contaminated Land and Construction revealed that eco-groups in the US were trying to sue officials in New York over their handling of brownfield cleanups, and developers in Abu Dhabi were planning to build the "world's greenest city", known as Masdar.

In February the UK's first flatpack homes were unveiled in Gateshead. The Boklok homes had previously been a hit in Scandinavia and were in huge demand when they first went on sale through Ikea in the UK in 2007.

English Partnerships published guidance in March on calculating the cost of cleaning up contaminated sites and bringing them back into use, and Scottish scientists developed a technology to clean up contamination using a by-product from making whisky.

The US Environmental Protection Agency dished out $74m in grants to clean up brownfield sites, and two US studies found that buyers were willing to pay more for LEED and ENERGY STAR homes.

Growing consumer awareness of green construction was highlighted by the eco-friendly slant of many of the features at this year's Grand Designs Live exhibition, in London, in May, while the industry professionals headed to Think 08 to hear Environment Secretary Hilary Benn fend off questions about the need for more Government incentives to drive greener homes.

One of the big green building stories of the year was the UK Government's eco-towns policy, and debates rumbled on throughout the year, becoming more vociferous as the final shortlist of proposals was announced.

In August, the US Department of Energy revealed that Yucca Mountain, its planned high-level nuke dump in the Nevada desert, would cost nearly $100bn, and the Welsh Assembly Government announced a funding package for cleaning up contaminated land.

It was a busy year for scientists looking at new ways to clean up contamination, with the discovery of arsenic-cleaning bacteria in a Canadian mine, Irish researchers inoculating plants against the effects of pollution to make them better at remediation, and compost being used to clean up soil.

The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) held its National Land Remediation conference in October, where the Conservatives called on Government to offer more incentives to redevelop brownfield.

edie introduced its new Green Buildings and Contaminated Land channels in November, and brought you news of the UK Government's plans to phase out the landfill tax exemption on contaminated soils.

In December, a raft of important planning applications on contaminated sites were granted, including a major 2,500 home development in Renfrewshire, Scotland, and the BRE warned builders to gen up on sustainable building before using its Green Guide.

Kate Martin



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