Municipal Planning and Technical Assistance

Delta Institute prides itself on being responsive to the needs of our many municipal and public agency partners, and responding to what they define as being the most important goal, activity, project, or approach to improve environmental and economic outcomes. We have decades of experience moving sustainable priorities forward in creative and innovative ways.

A core area of Delta’s Sustainability and Support Services is collaborating with municipalities and public agencies on an array of environmental and economic development opportunities; these efforts align directly with both our experience and our Strategic Plan, as we that by 2025 Delta will work with more than 250 partner communities while securing $40M in external investment and creating 100 practical tools, resources, strategies, and public plans. Ultimately, we plan to positively impact more than 5M Midwesterners through our community-focused projects.

Our municipal planning and technical assistance projects, as detailed more in-depth below and in our Projects Roster and Tools and Publications, have included: Sustainability / Climate Planning, Brownfield Redevelopment, Coal Economy Transition, Waste Reduction and  Deconstruction, Staff Capacity Augmentation, and, Nature-Based Climate Solutions / Green Infrastructure.

Sustainability and Climate Planning

Delta provides municipalities, ranging from populations of 1,500 to 3.5M residents, with planning services that address a wide range of climate, sustainability, carbon neutral, waste and recycling, and community (re)development goals and objectives.

You may review all our Municipal and Public Agency Planning efforts here.

South Shore Neighborhood (Chicago, IL) Shoreline Resiliency Plan (2022-2024)

Delta Institute is working with local groups and public agencies to complete a community-led resiliency plan backed by science and centered on shoreline infrastructure implementation for the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago. For years this community has been impacted by extreme weather and Lake Michigan events, and a comprehensive community planning process is essential to ensuring a resilient and healthy future for South Shore. 

Forest Preserve District of DuPage County (IL) Sustainability Plan (2022-2023)

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is partnering with Delta Institute to develop a plan promoting clean energy, resiliency, and sustainability. The project team focused on creating a comprehensive, equitable, partnership-driven, actionable, fundable, and measurable plan to advance the District’s position as a regional leader in environmental sustainability.

Village of Skokie (IL) GHG Emissions (2021-2022)

Delta Institute conducted a baseline greenhouse gas inventory as part of a broader suite of sustainability efforts for the Village of Skokie (IL; population 66k) in Fall 2021. An updated report was produced in the summer of 2022, integrating a different methodology for transportation emissions. This inventory includes emissions that are directly related to community actions and provides a starting point to develop initiatives that will reduce or eliminate emissions in the near, mid, and long term for the Village, its businesses, and residents.

City Of South Bend (IN) Carbon Neutral 2050 Plan (2019-2020)

Delta Institute worked with the City of South Bend, Indiana to develop a plan for the City to become carbon neutral by 2050. Our work encompassed Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventories, community canvassing and feedback, and achievable recommendations and road-mapping for all municipal departments, with an emphasis on reductions in transportation and energy.

Delta provided the City of South Bend and then-Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Administration with an actionable municipal plan to reduce emissions, called Carbon Neutral 2050. The plan targets transportation and energy use in buildings, which were found to be the largest sources of GHGs in South Bend. Strategies were prioritized for their ability to provide the most substantial emissions cuts while maximizing benefits to residents and businesses.

Sebewaing (MI) Master Plan (2017-2018)

Through a collaborative process between the Village of Sebewaing, Delta Institute, and Michigan State University, Delta provided recommendations, assessment, and analysis of environmental circumstances, climate planning, and municipal planning to align future development with better resilience outcomes to avoid flood risk and vulnerability to extreme weather caused by climate change.

Brownfield Redevelopment

Delta is proud to serve as trusted advisor to communities determining the best path forward on the assessment, use strategy, and redevelopment of vacant and polluted land parcels (otherwise known as “brownfields”). Our brownfield redevelopment work has taken us throughout the Midwest from Ohio to Nebraska, and in rural, suburban, and urban communities experiencing legacy environmental issues.

You may review all our Brownfield Redevelopment materials here

Kansas State University Technical Assistance to Brownfields Provider

Delta is proud to serve and partner as a technical assistance provider to Kansas State University Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) program through the EPA. Delta has served 50+ communities in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and other states with brownfield redevelopment planning; land re-use visioning; application of sustainable redevelopment strategies; prioritization and analysis of land inventories; Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments; brownfield cleanup strategies; translation of technical documents into future effort and costs; identification of redevelopment funding; and community education, engagement and input.

Little Village Neighborhood (Chicago, IL) Brownfield Planning (2012-2022)

In 2012 Delta Institute  and the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) collaborated as part of the Fisk and Crawford Reuse Task Force, formed to collect community input on future uses of two large brownfield sites in Chicago: the former Fisk coal plant in Pilsen and the former Crawford coal plant in Little Village. During this six-month process, both Delta and LVEJO recognized that Little Village was home to many other brownfields. Redevelopment of these sites, including the Crawford site, held significant potential to bring commercial or industrial businesses and local jobs to Little Village as well as to increase the amount of green or recreational space for residents. Delta and LVEJO initiated a two-year partnership in late 2013 to create the Little Village Vacant Property and Brownfield Redevelopment Strategy to guide the redevelopment of brownfield sites in Little Village. Our collaboration led to a comprehensive redevelopment plan for 10 brownfield sites that existed in the neighborhood. Our planning included site-specific redevelopment opportunity sheets (or “lookbook” sheets), accompanying preliminary environmental reviews, reuse strategies, and an appendix of all assessments. 

Bear Brands Hosiery Site Remediation in Gary, IN (2015-2018)

Delta Institute partnered with the City of Gary and Greenprint Partners to transform the once thriving site of the five-acre Bear Brand Hosiery Co. stocking factory into a park by planting hybrid poplar trees to improve soil quality. Plans for the vacant, degraded site include the installation of public art and landscaping. As of 2018, 300 hybrid polar trees had been planted on the site as an interim land use strategy. These hybrid poplars are expected to grow rapidly and both absorb and break-down the petroleum contamination within the soil to remediate the land for future reuse.

Phytoremediation in Muskegon, MI (2010-2014)

Delta Institute established a hybrid poplar tree farm on brownfield sites in Muskegon, Michigan which integrated environmental improvement with community economic development. In 2013, Delta planted 3,000 hybrid poplar trees which are able to take up or stabilize environmental contaminants, like heavy metals, chlorinated solvents and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can find their way into a community’s drinking water. Even to this day, these trees are reducing stormwater runoff, which the EPA identified as the most important remaining uncontrolled source of water pollution.

Coal Economy Transition

Delta Institute has worked with communities throughout the Midwest (and beyond) who are exploring and/or transitioning from a coal-based economy while seeking redevelopment of closed or closing coal power plants. We have a keen understanding of the many needs and considerations that must be explored and evaluated in respectful, inclusive approaches to ensure the best possible path forward for a coal community grappling with a coal plant closure. Indeed, many of our staff were raised in “coal country,” and we’ve worked in communities throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

You may review all our Coal Plant Redevelopment and Economy Transition efforts here.

Closed Coal Plant Redevelopment Roadmap

Delta Institute’s Roadmap (available for download and use) is filled with practical tools and processes for communities to plan for the redevelopment of coal plant sites. These recommendations and tools are based on lessons learned from our work in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and other communities with closing or closed coal plants.

Shenango Reimagined (Allegheny County, PA) (2019-2020)

Delta Institute has worked with numerous communities who are faced with a closed–or closing–coal power plant. These sites have unique needs for redevelopment, ranging from environmental remediation to replacement of lost tax revenue and jobs. Delta facilitated a coalition of community groups located outside Pittsburgh, PA to create Guiding Principles for sustainable redevelopment of the closed Shenango Coke Plant property located on Neville Island, located on the Ohio River. Intended for use by future developers of the 50-acre site, these Guiding Principles were created by the Shenango Reimagined Advisory Council, composed of citizens, environmental groups, economic development agencies, and municipalities. These efforts were facilitated by Delta staff.

Fisk and Crawford Coal Plant (Chicago, IL) Redevelopment Report

In 2012 Delta Institute and the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) collaborated with eight multi-sector stakeholder groups as part of the Fisk and Crawford Reuse Task Force. Appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the task force was formed to collect community input on future uses of two large brownfield sites in Chicago: the former Fisk coal plant in Pilsen and the former Crawford coal plant in Little Village. Delta, among many partners, facilitated and collaborated to draft recommendations for the redevelopment of the closed Fisk and Crawford coal plant site in the Little Village neighborhood in Chicago.

Waste Reduction and  Deconstruction

Delta Institute has a deep breadth of experience working in waste reduction and deconstruction efforts in cities and towns across the Midwest. We have authored an array of long-term plans, feasible recommendations, and policy/ordinance suggestions for municipal use. We estimate that our waste and deconstruction efforts have impacted more than 15M Midwesterners across multiple cities and regions, including Chicago, St. Louis, Gary, and more.

You may review all our Waste Reduction and Planning efforts here.

City of Chicago Waste Strategy (2021)

Delta Institute was hired by the City of Chicago Office of the Mayor to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the entire municipal waste system and its directly related impacts on the community. As a core part of our efforts, Delta Institute developed a holistic, pragmatic roadmap with short-term recommendations for 2021-2022 to re-envision what materials management in Chicago could look like, while ultimately turning waste into resource.

McHenry County (IL) Solid Waste Strategy (2012 and 2022)

Delta Institute has partnered with McHenry County, IL, to create both a county-wide solid waste management strategy (2012) and provide a 10-year update in 2022. Specifically, Delta worked with for the McHenry County Department of Health to update  the McHenry County Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP). The work scope for Delta comprised three task areas, including Landfill capacity and expansion analysis, Legislative activity, and Solid waste management trends.

Steel City Salvage: Deconstruction And Economic Opportunity In Gary, Indiana (2013-2020)

Delta Institute has worked within Gary for years—decades even—with dozens of local community partners who are essential to our collaborative efforts’ success. Many of our supporters are familiar with Delta’s efforts to create Steel City Salvage, our deconstruction project that saves reclaimed materials from vacant buildings going to landfill—instead selling them to spur economic development within the City of Gary. Specifically, Delta has worked to establish a sustainable marketplace for these salvaged items–which includes everything from old growth lumber to wall sconces to church pews.

Demystifying Midwestern Building Material Markets For Reuse And Revenue Analysis (2015-2020)

Delta Institute’s Demystifying Waste report provides data to the private and public sector to decrease the disposal rate of reusable materials—and save these valuable supplies from landfills—and increase the capacity of local and state governments to adopt policies encouraging building material reuse and recycling with the recognition of local economic benefits. Delta Institute, in collaboration with the Building Material Reuse Association, has worked to identify end markets for reusable and recyclable building materials in the Upper Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin); provide an estimate of the volume of material that can be managed; and provide an estimate of economic opportunity afforded by the potential markets using economic indicators (e.g. jobs, wages).

St. Louis Demolition And Deconstruction Technical Assistance (2015-2020)

The City of St. Louis, St. Louis Development Corporation, the Missouri Environmental Improvement and Energy Resources Authority, and Region 7 EPA selected Delta Institute to revise its demolition handbook, develop specifications for deconstruction, train contractors around building material reuse, and plan a deconstruction pilot program. The City of St. Louis has leveraged Delta’s support to advance a multi-partner strategy to reduce waste from demolition, reuse building materials, and protect public health. As part of these efforts, Delta Institute’s St. Louis Deconstruction Market Assessment is made possible with support from the Environmental Improvement and Energy Resource Authority (EIERA) and in collaboration with the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) and the Green City Coalition.

Staff Augmentation and Capacity Building

Delta Institute has provided staff augmentation services to municipal and public agencies, helping to fill in for specific contract scopes that range from planning, project management, grant solicitation and administration, and community engagement/outreach services.

Staff Capacity at the Illinois International Port District (2016-2024)

Delta Institute has been partnering with the IIPD for several years to help advance the Port’s goals related to community engagement and sustainability. Delta helped the IIPD secure millions in federal and state investment, as well as reach Green Marine Certification (and subsequent re-certifications), an environmental certification program that offers a comprehensive framework for maritime companies to benchmark and then reduce their environmental footprint. Delta Institute also supported the IIPD and CMAP in developing the Port’s Master Plan. Not only do these activities anchor the IIPD as a community asset toward reaching local environmental and economic goals, but they also demonstrate the ways in which multiple communities throughout the Southeast Side and along the Calumet River and Lake Calumet benefit from its work.

Michigan City (Indiana) Sanitary District Storm Water Advisory Group (2021-2024)

Delta Institute is partnering with the City of Michigan City Sanitary District to engage and facilitate their Storm Water Advisory Group that provides an array of municipal-focused services, including community engagement and outreach, medium- and longer-term municipal agency planning, submitting funding requests for water quality/stormwater management-focused projects, and project coordination and implementation management for stormwater management / Green Infrastructure projects.

Green Infrastructure

Delta collaborates with communities in developing and implementing green infrastructure (GI) plans to help them reduce economic risks and costs from improper stormwater management while also improving local environmental quality and quality of life. We use our technical, planning, and engagement expertise to enable communities to overcome barriers to widespread use of GI. We achieve by collaborating on cost-effectively planning, installing, and maintaining GI solutions.

Please utilize our Green Infrastructure Designs Guide and CAD files, all of which are free, open-source, and tested in our many flood mitigation and stormwater management projects.

You may review all our Green Infrastructure efforts here. 

Municipal Tree Planting Consortium in Northwest Indiana (2022-2025)

Delta Institute is working with municipal, business, and community partners in Lake County, Indiana to expand regional forest canopy acreage via an innovative multi-community approach to comprehensive canopy mapping; forest planning, installing 2,240+ trees, and expanding maintenance and capacity building. These efforts will be achieved via a collaborative tree planting consortium structure with foundational inclusive community engagement throughout the entire process.

Restoring The Duck Creek Tributary In Northwest Indiana (2019-2025)

Delta Institute is assisting the City of Hobart and the Hobart Sanitary District (HSD) to implement streambank stabilization and restoration, and to install a riparian buffer that improves permeability and infiltration along the Tributary corridor. Delta is providing project management and oversight, and has helped the City with procurement. The project will be completed in two phases of work along the riparian corridor. These improvements will increase stormwater capacity and infiltration, reduce nonpoint source pollution from entering the creek, prevent erosion and damage to surrounding infrastructure, and improve the instream and riparian habitat.

Green Infrastructure Plan For Gary, Indiana (2016-2019)

Delta Institute’s partnership with the City of Gary, Indiana, focused on the creation of a Gary Green Infrastructure Plan, a two-year project focused on assisting the City with planning and implementing Green Infrastructure designs, identifying 61 Priority Projects to install 26 acres of rain gardens, permeable pavements, street planters, and other GI designs, collectively reducing the negative impacts of 132 million gallons of stormwater annually. The GI Plan will play a significant role in how the city uses GI strategies to regulate land use, advance development projects, manage stormwater, control sewer overflow problems, and decrease pollution.

Stormwater Management Installations Throughout Hobart, Indiana (2015-2018)

Delta and the City of Hobart have implemented GI installations throughout the city, including a courtyard rain garden at Hobart Middle School, a parking lot rain garden and permeable pavement in the front and backsides of Hobart City Hall, and a large bioswale in the city’s Hillman Park. The four installations collectively are projected to provide an additional 800,000 to 3.5 million gallons of stormwater management capacity that will improve water and soil quality within the Deep River and Turkey Creek Watershed which drains into Lake Michigan, while also serving as both beautification and environmental education tools for local residents.

Delta has an array of resources and experience available across our website, including on our Work with Us page, our Projects Roster, and our Tools and Publications.


If you have any questions, please contact us.


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