What is a Brownfield?

Brownfields are abandoned or under-used industrial and commercial properties with actual or perceived contamination. Redevelopment or reuse of brownfields can be complicated by the presence or potential presence of contaminants. However, cleanup and reuse/redevelopment of brownfields can lead to multiple economic benefits and other opportunities such as job training, open space, and floodwater retention.

Western Cook County Coalition Grant Activities

In 2014, the Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assess vacant, abandoned, and underutilized brownfields in seven western suburbs. These assessment activities are the first step leading to the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields in these communities.

Coalition partners: 

Suggest a Potential Brownfield Site:

Public participation and assistance identifying potential sites for assessment activities is encouraged and welcomed. Please complete the Brownfields Submittal Form and send to the contacts identified on the form. The information will be evaluated by our team for consideration.  Sites currently being assessed by the coalition can be found here.

Documents and Other Information:

Documents such as public information notices and reports are available for viewing and download. Additional documents will be posted as they become available.

Economic Effects of Brownfields in West Cook County

Economic Effects of Brownfields in West Cook County (Spanish)

Brownfield Project Overview

Brownfield Project Overview (Spanish)


2016 Green Your Brownfield Workshop

Gene Ryan, Deputy Director for Operations, Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and Margaret Renas, Senior Manager and Environmental Engineer at the Delta Institute presented at the September 15th workshop.

On September 15th Community Leaders, Planners and Residents attended a brownfields workshop on co-hosted by the Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability and the Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) Program at Kansas State University.  This workshop presented how to use sustainable or "green" practices in the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites, which include abandoned buildings, old gas stations and other potentially contaminated properties that are impeding a communities' future growth.

Presentations from the workshop can be found at the KSUtab.org website.

2015 Brownfield Workshop


Picture of President Preckwinkle speaking at Brownfields workshop

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle talks about her strong commitment to the environment and economic development.

On September 24th, The Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability hosted a workshop designed to help communities gain a better understanding of what a Brownfield is, learn how Brownfield revitalization can be a part of a community’s economic development strategy, and hear from state and national officials about resources available to help with brownfield redevelopment .  More information about the event can be found on Cook County’s Sustainability blog.

Presentations made at the event are available through the links below:

What is a Brownfield and Steps for Successful Redevelopment, Margaret Renas – TAB

Early Steps for Successful Redevelopment Bottom Up Planning, Margaret Renas – TAB

Economic Revitalization through Brownfields – Strategies & Free Resources, Mike Charles – IEPA

Economic Revitalization through Brownfields Strategies & Free Resources, Matt Didier – USEPA

Brownfields Revitalization Resources for Redevelopment, Susan Campbell – Cook County Department of Planning and Development


Many federal resources are available to help local communities with brownfields redevelopment, explains Matt Didier of USEPA Brownfields Program, Region V.


Funding and Other Assistance

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Brownfields and Land Revitalization – U.S. EPA typically issues annual grants for brownfield planning, assessment, and cleanup activities. Information to apply for grants from the U.S. EPA can be found on their website listed below in Other Resources. U.S. EPA also provides assistance through their Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) Communities Program. This program helps guide communities through the cleanup and redevelopment process at brownfield properties.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency of Brownfields Assistance (OBA) manages the brownfields grant and loan programs and offers technical support to communities through the services of its Brownfields Representatives.

Cook County Land Bank Authority

The CCLBA works to reduce and return vacant land and abandoned buildings back into reliable and sustainable community assets. CCLBA was formed by ordinance of Cook County in 2013 to address the large inventory of vacant residential, industrial and commercial property in Cook County. The ordinance was created after two extensive reports conducted by Cook County and Urban Land Institute. CCLBA is a unit of Cook County government, funded primarily with grants, contributions and revenues from transactions. CCLBA is the largest land bank by geography in the country and is governed by a Board of Directors appointed by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle and the Cook County Board of Commissioners

South Suburban Land Bank and Development Authority

The SSLBDA facilitates the redevelopment of acquired properties through strategic partnerships with developers, community organizations, lenders, and local governments to improve quality of life, stabilize the tax base, and enhance economic activities that promote sustainable, healthy, and stable communities in a manner consistent with local government plans and priorities.

As of December 1, 2017, the Cook County Department of Environmental Control is now the Department of Environment and Sustainability