New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Issues New Guidance on Green Remediation (DER-31)

In 2010, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) issued DER-31: Green Remediation which was revised in 2011.  DER-31: Green Site Remediation (GSR) provides the framework for DER's approach to remediating sites in the context of the larger environment, a concept known as green remediation. GSR can be defined as “the practice of considering all environmental effects of remedy implementation and incorporating options to minimize the environmental footprint of cleanup actions.” It is intended to be a holistic approach which improves the overall sustainability of remedial cleanups by promoting the use of more sustainable practices and technologies. Such practices and technologies are, for example, less disruptive to the environment, generate less waste, increase reuse and recycling, and emit fewer pollutants, including greenhouse gases (GHGs), to the atmosphere. The approach also recognizes the potential for positive economic and social benefits of site reuse and supports coordination of site reuse and remediation to effect the most beneficial and sustainable reuse of the site.

Recently, NYSDEC, Division of Environmental Remediation (DER) issued new guidance to further incorporate these concepts into its everyday business practices and to provide for better metrics to support decision making.

What’s New?

Standard Remedial Elements

  • Remedial Design – To further NYSDEC’s green and sustainable goals and provide a baseline for tracking metrics, this standard remedial element now requires: 
    1. an environmental footprint analysis (e.g., SiteWise or SEFA), 
    2. definition of project-specific green and sustainable goals in the design specifications, 
    3. tracking of green metrics during project implementation (reported in the FER), and 
    4. completion of a climate change vulnerability assessment.
  • Green Remediation – Sites without a design phase should still implement green and sustainable practices through the implementation of an environmental footprint analysis (e.g., SiteWise or SEFA), tracking of green metrics and reporting in periodic or other site management reports, and a climate vulnerability assessment.

New Site Management Plan Template (PDF)

  • Includes Periodic Assessments/Evaluations
    1. Climate change vulnerability assessments are now mandatory and should consider wildfires.
    2. Green remediation evaluations should consider material reuse and recycling, and carpooling.
  • Includes Green Remediation Metrics Form for Site Management

GSR Implementation

GSR practices should be implemented as early as the site characterization. Although not all sites have incorporated GSR in earlier phases, it can be evaluated at any time and, moving forward, should build off the completion of each remedial phase.

Key Concepts for GSR Implementation include: 

  • Idle reduction plan
  • Minimize waste generation and material use
  • Reuse or recycle material, when applicable
  • Increase energy efficiency
  • Enhance habitat value and land reuse
  • Assess applicability of renewable energy sources
  • Environmental impacts of treatment technologies and remedies
  • Developing/utilizing zero emission technology on-site as practicable
  • Other site-specific considerations

NYSDEC has issued a guide for implementing green and sustainable remediation in various types of projects. 

NYSDEC will be issuing updates to DER-10 and DER-31, we will keep you posted on those updates as the information becomes available.