Birth of The Rebuilding Exchange
November 24, 2008 7 Comments
by Dave Hampton
Please note: Urban Habitat Chicago DOES NOT operate the ReBuilding Exchange.
We generally DO NOT take donations of building materials, appliances, etc.
Go here to DONATE MATERIALS to or PURCHASE MATERIALS from The Rebuilding Exchange.
In contrast to the relatively short time resulting in a beautiful new arrival, the pregnancy period is much longer but essential in carefully shaping a strong and healthy individual that will eventually stand on its own.
This weekend, a group of volunteers helped the The Rebuilding Exchange take its first steps.
Over 14,000 square feet of space available for used, discounted materials, components like windows and doors, light fixtures, and appliances.
Been a long time comin’
Though it’s not open for business just yet (grand opening slated for February 2009… stay tuned), The Rebuilding Exchange at 3335 W. 47th Street (map) will become the focal point of Chicagoland’s growing market for the storage and sale of building components and materials to the general public, ranging from lighting fixtures, appliances, and cabinet hardware to windows, doors, old-growth lumber, and siding. Materials are mostly collected through the process of deconstruction, the most economically viable alternative to demolition if a building cannot be otherwise saved.
Left: Janet Eckelbarger hugs Delta’s Institute’s Elise Zelechowski (in orange) to congratulate her on the payoff of long, hard work. Right: volunteers from the shelf-building crew.
Urban Habitat Chicago (UHC) is proud to have played a small but critical part in encouraging this facility through its support and promotion of deconstruction and its work to encourage The Reuse People to come to Chicagoland from way back in 2005.
Building a shelving rack for windows.
Chicago’s green community gathers
For those many months spent filing for grants, poring over real estate information, analyzing the market for reclaimed materials, or brainstorming on how to promote deconstruction and materials reuse, Chicagoland’s green community has increasingly rallied around a cause that makes sense from every possible environmental and economic standpoint.
This weekend for the first time, they set aside their cellphones, laptops, spreadsheets, and Powerpoints, crossed party lines, stood side-by-side, and rolled up their sleeves to turn a dream into a reality.
Volunteers help paint at the BMRC - green, of course!
I saw someone from the Department of Planning and Development putting the finishing touches on painting around a fire extinguisher on a cool mushroom-capital column. A former Department of the Environment employee joined an intern from the UIC marketing study to clean refrigerators. A farmer helped a neuroscience student move base cabinets. An architect (yours truly) and a soils scientist from Morton Arboretum joined a metal fabricator and a carpenter build storage racks for windows and doors out of some of the most solid lumber you’ll ever pick up!
One could feel the excitement that all of us, no matter what our day jobs were or when we first got involved in The Rebuilding Exchange, were each doing our part to serve a higher calling.
Stacks of dry, solid older-growth lumber await being taken home by you and put back to work in a construction project! More to come very soon.
A home for reclaimed building materials
Following proven examples of other reuse centers in California, Oregon, Maryland, and other states, The Rebuilding Exchange joins a growing network of places to find building components and materials at a reduced cost while stimulating the economy by putting people to work and increasing the value of our homes.
This is no drafty warehouse with stuff thrown helter-skelter in the corner to pick through - this is The Rebuilding Exchange, a class act!
Well-located within a short distance of the CTA Orange Line, I-55, and other major intersections,
Used or reclaimed building materials have real value, especially more value than as a useless heap of garbage for the landfill.
Why use used building materials?
The short answer to the question: because it’s the right thing to do.
Some buildings simply cannot be adapted, reused, or otherwise saved through preservation efforts. In Chicagoland in one year alone, thousands of perfectly good homes are demolished and sent to the landfill, resulting in tremendous waste in excess of twenty tons per home - that’s the weight of 4 typical school buses!
The longer answer: because used or reclaimed building materials have real value.
As a society, we’ve already invested heavily in producing building materials. We extract them in raw form (such as cutting down a tree), form them into shapes we can use (such as a 2×4), move them (such as getting them to Home Depot), and put them in place (such as driving to Home Depot, buying the 2×4, and bringing it to the jobsite, and using it in the building).
Now we’re going to knock the building down and take that 2×4 all the way to the landfill in a big heap of trash?
This might be legal, but it’s criminally stupid.
What a waste!
The Rebuilding Exchange is now part of the solution.
(Note: Learn more about the embodied energy in our older buildings.)
Windows of all sizes reclaimed from deconstructed homes.
How you can help
Remember when your President (not THAT President… the guy from Texas) told you to go out and buy, buy, buy to keep our economy going?
We’re going to ask that you do the same, with a twist: buy from The Rebuilding Exchange. Buy used.
Search your soul, look twice at your architect’s drawings, and look once again in your pockets.
Do you really need new lumber for that kitchen expansion? How about slightly used but older-growth joists instead?
You want the most energy-efficient building possible, we know that… maybe you can justify better insulation or windows by using used nice, used solid-oak doors instead of new ones.
This stuff would end up in the landfill if a lot of people hadn’t made the commitment and taken the effort to bring it to you at a lower cost than new components and materials.
When you make the choice to buy used and reclaimed stuff from The Rebuilding Exchange, you support the recovery of things we’ve already invested a lot of time and energy to make… and you’ll save money.
Make the right decision, buy used, help promote deconstruction as an alternative to demolition, help promote building materials reuse, and you’ll be helping The Rebuilding Exchange grow big and strong!
I want to buy used building materials!
Anyone interested in purchasing materials before the facility opens should make an appointment with Elise Zelechowski of Delta Institute at (312)554-0900 x.20, (773) 844-5945 mobile, email: EZelechowski@delta-institute.org
Do you sink we’re finished? Not by a long shot. There’s more…
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