Tools and Publications
TitleInitiativeProgram AreaAudienceDescription
Regenerative Agriculture Factsheet for Public AgenciesLandscapesLand StewardshipLand Trusts, Municipalities10/26/20In order to successfully use regenerative agriculture as a system to manage farmland, it is important to ensure that land managers and decision makers understand the key principles of regenerative agriculture. Though several definitions have been developed, they are all based on the idea that soil is a living, functioning system. This brief overview helps illustrate why land-owning public agencies can use regenerative agriculture for their farmland.Link to Publication
City of Gary Green Infrastructure PlanCommunitiesGreen InfrastructureMunicipalities10/09/20Delta’s Gary Green Infrastructure Plan is a two-year project focused on assisting the City of Gary with planning and implementing Green Infrastructure (GI). Since 2016, as part of the Plan, Delta Institute, the City of Gary, and our partners developed a GI Mapping Tool, city-wide GI Suitability Analysis, a GI Zoning Ordinance, a Stormwater Impact Financial Analysis, a prioritized GI project list, and GI management strategies. 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.Link to Publication
Brownfields Marketability Scoring ToolCommunitiesBrownfields, Resilient CommunitiesCommunity Groups, Municipalities08/19/20This tool is designed to assist communities in prioritizing brownfield sites for redevelopment. This scoring tool takes into account the following site and community characteristics: ownership, site use, land characteristics, community characteristics, community capacity, redevelopment incentives, infrastructure amenities, environmental conditions, and building characteristics.Link to Publication
Chicago Neighborhood Inclusive Redevelopment StrategyCommunitiesResilient CommunitiesCommunity Groups, Land Trusts, Municipalities07/23/20Chicago has become a tale of two cities. In most of the City's neighborhoods, income has declined, middle-class residents and immigrants are leaving, and employment opportunities are scarce. Yet the housing burden and the cost of living continue to rise. In this paper, Delta proposes to work with low- and moderate-income communities to create the Chicago Neighborhood Land Bank and Trust (CNLB&T). CNLB&T can create the capacity for member communities to manage their own redevelopment to achieve equity by building agency, assets, and opportunities for their residents.Link to Publication
Waste Management ToolkitCommunitiesDeconstruction and Waste ReductionCommunity Groups, Municipalities08/01/16This overview illustrates best practices for waste management procurement and provides questions that will help municipalities achieve some or all of the best practice components. These recommendations should supplement your community’s standard procurement process and any existing local constraints, and offer suggestions and modifications to address the unique needs of a waste hauler contractual relationship.Link to Publication
Brownfield Mapping and Reuse Analysis in Little Village, ChicagoCommunitiesBrownfieldsCommunity Groups, Municipalities04/23/20This paper describes the process Delta Institute’s project team used to obtain and directly integrate a community’s goals and needs into an engineering-based, brownfields prioritization rubric. We scored brownfield sites to produce refined, site marketability scores and summaries that were then used to inform a more time intensive, flexible, and individualized community and stakeholder engagement process. We incorporated significant community input on desired reuse of the sites to ensure that potential redevelopment was inclusive, respectful, and culturally appropriate.Link to Publication
Integrated Strategies to Reduce Nutrient Loss and Regenerate SoilsLandscapesLand StewardshipFarmers, Land Trusts12/01/17Nutrient losses and soil degradation are symptomatic of the current state of agricultural systems that define much of the Illinois landscape. Excessive nutrients in waterways are currently the leading cause of water quality impairments in the Midwest and across the globe. Furthermore, the loss of soil and its carbon-rich organic matter is detrimental to crop cultivation, water quality and infiltration, nutrient cycling, pest moderation, as well as the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The first part outlines markets drivers that could provide mechanisms to advance the plans proposed in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS), in addition to various policy and social drivers that could be leveraged in Illinois. The second part focuses on the role of Illinois state agencies in advancing the NLRS and highlights the opportunities to leverage resources that support its implementation. The third part identifies opportunities for broader programmatic alignment between the NLRS and soil health to move toward a recarbonized rural landscape that provides water quality, climate and community benefits. We provide a snapshot of available models and tools highlighting the gaps and opportunities in utilizing those tools to support successful development and adoption of market drivers, reducing pollution, and strengthening the sustainability of agricultural systems in Illinois. This work was funded by the Walton Family Foundation.Link to Publication
Coal in the US: Policy Responses to an Industry in DeclineCommunitiesBrownfieldsCommunity Groups, Municipalities03/01/18With funding provided by the Just Transition Fund, Delta Institute evaluated and analyized policy approaches to help communities facing the closure of their local coal plant. As power plants continue to go offline and coal mines close, communities that house these facilities are faced with the challenge of planning for the remediation and reuse of their brownfield site, retraining displaced workers, and filling the hole in their community’s tax base.Link to Publication
Soil WealthLandscapesRegenerative AgricultureFoundations, Investors07/01/19The report provides an in-depth analysis not only of investments in farmland, but also of investment opportunities across asset classes that support regenerative agricultural value chains and food systems, including banking and cash equivalents, fixed-income investing in both public and private debt markets, public equities, and the private equity and venture capital market. Across these asset classes, it identifies 67 distinct investment mechanisms, instruments, and approaches for further developing regenerative agriculture capital opportunities. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for investors and stakeholders to build greater “soil wealth” -- the benefits associated with improving soil health and increasing rural wealth through regenerative agriculture. Soil Wealth stems from a major, three-year project on innovative mechanisms for financing regenerative agriculture funded by a Conservation Innovation Grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).Link to Publication
Land Tenure and Conservation in AgricultureLandscapesLand StewardshipLand Trusts, Nonprofits05/01/19With support from the Walton Family Foundation, we released this report and analysis on land ownership, leasing, and tenure as levers to expand conservation practices to rebuild soil health throughout the Midwest. This report explores the network of stakeholders, policies, and institutions through which soil health can be linked to the value of the land and serve as an incentive to change management of that land—and compiles a set of resources that may be taken in concert or used separately by a variety of stakeholders to advance soil health and agricultural conservation practices on farmland in the Midwest and beyond. Specifically, this body of work focused on land trust and publicly held land holdings in Illinois, and how rental agreements can help ownership meet their stewardship goals.Link to Publication
Green Infrastructure Designs GuideCommunitiesGreen InfrastructureCommunity Groups, Municipalities09/01/17Delta authored this Guide to act as an approachable, open-source guide on standard GI techniques and the basic requirements and considerations for properly implementing them. It provides decision support tools that help communities select the right GI technique, identify where to locate it and forecast the benefits that it will bring. The Guide plays an important role in implementing Delta’s GI work, particularly through our community planning projects, construction projects, and our trainings. Link to Publication
Shenango ReimaginedCommunitiesBrownfieldsCommunity Groups, Municipalities03/01/20Delta 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. The revisioning process also identified 20 site reuse ideas that are in alignment with Guiding Principles and market forces. These efforts were facilitated by Delta staff. Link to Publication
Advocacy and Action for Incentivizing ConservationLandscapesLand Stewardship, Regenerative AgricultureLand Trusts, Municipalities, Nonprofits08/07/19This section is a portion of our “Land Tenure and Conservation in Agriculture: Creating Incentives for Landowners” report issued in May 2019. The report explores the network of stakeholders, policies, and institutions through which soil health can be linked to the value of the land and serve as an incentive to change management of that land—and compiles a set of resources that may be taken in concert or used separately by a variety of stakeholders to advance soil health and agricultural conservation practices on farmland in the Midwest and beyond.Link to Publication
Farmland Leasing Toolkit for Land ManagersLandscapesLand Stewardship, Regenerative AgricultureFarmers, Land Trusts, Nonprofits08/07/19This section is a portion of our “Land Tenure and Conservation in Agriculture: Creating Incentives for Landowners” report issued in May 2019. This report explores the network of stakeholders, policies, and institutions through which soil health can be linked to the value of the land and serve as an incentive to change management of that land—and compiles a set of resources that may be taken in concert or used separately by a variety of stakeholders to advance soil health and agricultural conservation practices on farmland in the Midwest and beyond.Link to Publication
Land Management through LeasingLandscapesLand Stewardship, Regenerative AgricultureFarmers, For Profit Entities, Investors, Land Trusts, Nonprofits08/07/19This section is a portion of our “Land Tenure and Conservation in Agriculture: Creating Incentives for Landowners” report issued in May 2019. This report explores the network of stakeholders, policies, and institutions through which soil health can be linked to the value of the land and serve as an incentive to change management of that land—and compiles a set of resources that may be taken in concert or used separately by a variety of stakeholders to advance soil health and agricultural conservation practices on farmland in the Midwest and beyond.Link to Publication
Land Value: Exploring the Current Agricultural Land Valuation SystemLandscapesLand Stewardship, Regenerative AgricultureFarmers, For Profit Entities, Investors, Land Trusts, Municipalities, Nonprofits08/07/19This section is a portion of our “Land Tenure and Conservation in Agriculture: Creating Incentives for Landowners” report issued in May 2019. This report explores the network of stakeholders, policies, and institutions through which soil health can be linked to the value of the land and serve as an incentive to change management of that land—and compiles a set of resources that may be taken in concert or used separately by a variety of stakeholders to advance soil health and agricultural conservation practices on farmland in the Midwest and beyond.Link to Publication
State of Land Stewardship in IllinoisLandscapesLand StewardshipFarmers, Land Trusts07/01/19Roughly 50,000 acres of the 1.5 million total acres of conserved land in Illinois are owned by non-governmental conservation groups, also known as conservation land trusts. Traditionally, conservation land trusts have protected land, often restored it, and later transferred it to government entities for long-term ownership, which effectively transfers the responsibility of land stewardship to those governmental entities. Funded by the Grand Victoria Foundation, a team of nonprofits led by Delta collaborated on a research project to understand and map out the current conditions of conservation organization-based land stewardship in Illinois.Link to Publication
Demystifying Waste: Midwestern Building Material MarketsCommunitiesDeconstruction and Waste ReductionFor Profit Entities, Municipalities04/01/19Collaborating with Midwest communities to aid their waste reduction efforts is one of Delta's core initiatives—leading to this report released with support from the EPA and the Building Material Reuse Association. The 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. Link to Publication
St. Louis Deconstruction Market AssessmentCommunitiesDeconstruction and Waste ReductionFor Profit Entities, Municipalities04/01/19Delta Institute is an expert with construction and demolition waste reduction, recycling, reuse, policy and economic development. 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. Link to Publication
Economic Benefit Targeting For Development ToolCommunitiesBrownfields, Deconstruction and Waste Reduction, Green Infrastructure, Resilient CommunitiesCommunity Groups, For Profit Entities, Investors, Municipalities, Nonprofits05/03/19This tool is for practitioners seeking to target the impacts of programs, policies, development and other investments to specific needs. This tool can be used to verify the extent to which a project, initiative or redevelopment can be used to secure a specific type of benefit.Link to Publication
Economic Benefit Targeting For Development OverviewCommunitiesBrownfields, Deconstruction and Waste Reduction, Green Infrastructure, Resilient CommunitiesCommunity Groups, For Profit Entities, Investors, Municipalities, Nonprofits05/03/19Overview of how this tool may be used by practitioners seeking to target the impacts of programs, policies, development and other investments to specific needs. This tool can be used to verify the extent to which a project, initiative or redevelopment can be used to secure a specific type of benefit.Link to Publication
Resilient Communities Stakeholder IdentificationCommunitiesResilient CommunitiesCommunity Groups, For Profit Entities, Municipalities, Nonprofits05/03/19Overview describing approach and usage of the stakeholder matrix that helps anyone creating a community-based project identify possible redevelopment and project stakeholders. Useful for planners, municipal leaders, community groups, nonprofit organizations, or economic development professionals.Link to Publication
Resilient Communities Stakeholder AssessmentCommunitiesBrownfields, Resilient CommunitiesCommunity Groups, Municipalities05/03/19Stakeholder matrix that helps anyone creating a community-based project identify possible redevelopment and project stakeholders. Useful for planners, municipal leaders, community groups, nonprofit organizations, or economic development professionals.Link to Publication
Toolkit for Using StoryWoodCommunitiesDeconstruction and Waste Reduction, Sustainable BuildingsCommunity Groups, For Profit Entities12/12/18Created for architects, designers, and developers, this toolkit offers a lexicon with a clear delineation of the universe of wood available for use in their design plans. Different types of wood have different stories to tell, some richer than others, and there are benefits and challenges associated with each type. This toolkit will help designers identify, evaluate, and share the most interesting parts of a certain type of wood’s back story, and, more specifically, it will help to align material choices to achieve certifications, such as LEED or Living Building Challenge. In short, this toolkit provides designers with the information and tools needed to navigate the universe of wood products and find the unique and sustainable material that will meaningfully resonate with their vision for a finished design. Link to Publication
Valuing the Ecosystem Service Benefits from Regenerative Agriculture PracticesLandscapesRegenerative Agriculture09/21/18Farmland LP, Delta Institute, and Earth Economics released a report today that demonstrates $21.4 million in net ecosystem service value benefits using regenerative farm management practices at scale. The report summarizes the social and environmental impacts of Farmland LP’s investment management practices. Farmland LP buys and converts conventionally farmed land to certified organic farmland using regenerative farm management methods, to generate competitive financial returns and achieve positive environmental and social impacts. The USDA funded this study for the partners to generate a new, more comprehensive form of impact reporting for agriculture, encompassing biophysical and, for the first time, ecosystem service value metrics. The results illustrate the profound impact of management practices on the ecosystem service value provided by farms. Link to Publication
Deconstruction Go GuideCommunitiesDeconstruction and Waste ReductionCommunity Groups, Municipalities06/01/18Deconstruction is the process of dismantling structures in a way that enables materials to be salvaged. For communities struggling with vacancy and unemployment, deconstruction can serve as a useful tool as they work toward revitalization. Delta Institute created a useful and approachable guide to deconstruction strategy to give municipalities a free resource in their waste reduction and resiliency efforts.Link to Publication
Coal Redevelopment RoadmapCommunitiesBrownfieldsCommunity Groups, Municipalities05/01/18Delta Institute has worked with communities throughout the Midwest who are transitioning from a coal-based economy and seeking redevelopment of closed or closing coal power plants. Delta created a Roadmap with practical tools and processes for communities to plan for the redevelopment of coal plant sites based on our work in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and other communities with closing or closed coal plants.Link to Publication
In Transition: Stories from Coal Plant CommunitiesCommunitiesBrownfieldsCommunity Groups, Municipalities08/18/17So often the voice of communities facing closure or the recent loss of their coal plant and the related jobs, tax base, and overall economic driver for their locality is lost--or diminished by the voices of others who are not directly affected by the coal industry's decline. Delta Institute engaged with communities nationwide to learn more about their realities, impacts, and visions for their future--one that is vibrant and prosperous for their municipality, coal plant workers, their families, and coal companies themselves.Link to Publication
Preparing for Long-Term Stewardship: A Dual Approach for IllinoisLandscapesLand StewardshipLand Trusts, Nonprofits11/01/16This overview of the conservation sector in Illinois was funded by the Grand Victoria Foundation and created in partnership with the Natural Land Institute and the Illinois Environmental Council. By addressing insufficient and inconsistent funding for stewardship through the implementation of a long-term, scalable financing strategy, the Illinois conservation community can overcome the constraints of the current funding cycle and chart a new path forward through new financing and revenue partnership models outlined in this report.Link to Publication
Community-Based Prioritization of a Brownfield Site Inventory for RedevelopmentCommunitiesBrownfields, Resilient CommunitiesCommunity Groups, Municipalities08/23/16This paper describes the process Delta Institute’s project team used to develop an engineering-based, brownfields prioritization rubric, the use of which resulted in a site prioritization that more truly reflected the goals of the community in an impactful way.Link to Publication
Storywood: Utilizing Reclaimed and Unique Wood in Design and ArchitectureCommunitiesDeconstruction and Waste ReductionFor Profit Entities, Municipalities12/01/18Every material has a story, and wood is no different. Be it wood sourced from a local gymnasium's floor, wood from a fallen tree, or wood grown on contaminated land as a remediation tool – it has a story with unique, marketable features. Designers, architects, and developers use the StoryWood Toolkit to identify, evaluate, and share information on various types of wood. We intend to provide Midwest design and architectural firms with a competitive advantage in the building material reuse, architectural salvage, and antique lumber marketplace--while reducing the amount of raw materials sent to landfill. Link to Publication
Assessing Assets & Barriers to Community RevitalizationCommunitiesBrownfields, Resilient CommunitiesCommunity Groups, Municipalities01/28/14Delta Institute has identified three phases in the community revitalization process, which apply to redeveloping brownfield sites and broader initiatives. At each stage in the process different assets must be present and barriers overcome to avoid pitfalls and achieve community revitalization. Delta Institute has worked with many communities at each phase in the process to help them build their assets and eliminate barriers to successful redevelopment.Link to Publication

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