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An environmental restoration project that facilitated the development of the Southeast Federal Center/The Yards in Washington, DC was the recipient of the People’s Choice Award and the EPA Region 3 winner for 2013 in the Phoenix Awards competition, which recognizes excellence in brownfield redevelopment.


Presented at the awards ceremony during Brownfields 2015 in Chicago and administered by the Phoenix Awards Institute, Inc., the Phoenix Awards were given to 21 environmental remediation projects that span the country, with one project designated as the People’s Choice for each award year. The winning projects are selected by a panel of environmental professionals and business and government leaders based on a set of 5 criteria: 1) Magnitude of the problems and project, 2) Use of innovative techniques, 3) Cooperative efforts of multiple parties to undertake the project, including financing solutions, 4) Positive impact on the environment (e.g., green buildings, greenways, energy use), and 5) Project's general and long-term impacts on the environment and community. 

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff designed the remediation plan at the Southeast Federal Center (SEFC) and oversaw and certified the work was completed in accordance with the EPA-approved remediation plan. The SEFC is in the heart of 268 acres that comprise the Near Southeast Neighborhood along the western shore of the Anacostia River, a previously overlooked and neglected neighborhood in the heart of the nation’s capital. In recent years, the District of Columbia’s tremendous economic growth has created a historic opportunity to transform more than 2,000 acres along the Anacostia River corridor into a model for 21st century urban living.

To enable redevelopment to proceed, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff designed a remediation plan for contaminated concrete, soil, and groundwater. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were present in concrete and soil in several areas of the property. Soil at the site also contained total petroleum hydrocarbons and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).  Contaminated soil in each of these areas was removed to meet cleanup criteria. MTBE affected groundwater was also present and addressed by monitored natural attenuation (MNA). Hazardous building materials present included PCBs, asbestos, lead-based paint, and bird droppings. One building material contained a unique combination of hazards — corrugated metal siding with an asbestos-containing coating, further coated with paint that contained both lead and PCBs. 

“The restoration of the SEFC site presented a host of technical challenges, requiring innovative approaches and solutions,” said David Sarr, practice leader, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff. “We are thrilled to receive the Phoenix People’s Chose Award for this project and to be recognized for creating a successful outcome that will bring economic and social benefits for our nation’s capital for years to come.”

The environmental remediation has facilitated the restoration of three separate historic buildings, construction of The Yards Park, construction of two new apartment buildings with retail space, and installation of new infrastructure. The Yards Park is a waterfront destination and the new centerpiece of the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. The park is located just south of Capitol Hill and east of Nationals Ballpark, and is designed to be a place that the community can be active, relax, and just enjoy the outdoors. There are open grassy areas and well-landscaped outdoor rooms, a waterfall and canal-like water feature, an elevated overlook, an iconic pedestrian bridge and light sculpture, terraced performance venue, and a riverfront boardwalk.