The CBN was officially launched on March 1, 2004 and was created in response to recommendations in the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy's National Brownfield Redevelopment Strategy for Canada. The CBN was founded by the Ontario Centre for Environmental Technology Advancement (OCETA) and the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI). It was federally incorporated in 2009 and now operates as an independent, autonomous not-for-profit national organization.
The CBN operates with a Board of Directors providing the framework and structure for daily operations. The CBN executives include members from the founding organizations. The vision of the CBN is that brownfield property reuse be the preferred solution by developers.