Rebuilding Exchange – An Innovative Model for Sustainability and Reuse

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Dear Readers, in addition to writing on a variety of for-profit and non-profit topics, beginning with this post I’ll also be contributing occasional stories where I profile successful non-profit social enterprises in order to share their inspiring stories.

Rebuilding Exchange (RX), a Chicago based non-profit social enterprise focused on re-purposing reclaimed building materials, was recently awarded the 2015 Excellence in Art and Culture Award from the Lincoln Park Chicago Chamber of Commerce. Caitlin Grey, Outreach Coordinator for RX was on hand to accept the award and it was an opportunity for us to meet, and she graciously agreed to be interviewed for this post.


RX creates a market for reclaimed building materials by diverting materials from landfills and making them accessible for reuse through their retail warehouse. Additionally they promote sustainable deconstruction practices, provide education and green job training programs and create innovative models for sustainable reuse.

RX was originally launched by the Delta Institute in 2009 as part of its mission to build a resilient environment and economy through sustainable solutions. The model now operates as an independent social enterprise with an impressive record of growth and collective social impacts.


Rebuilding Exchange’s social enterprise model is grounded in creating innovative models for sustainability and reuse.

Retail Warehouse, a 25K sq/ft facility open to the general public which carriers a large selection of reclaimed building materials including reclaimed old-growth and new-growth lumber, doors, cabinets, windows plus a large selection of plumbing and electrical fixtures.
RX Brand custom furniture and products created from reclaimed materials

Workshops RX offers a variety of workshops from woodworking to green plumbing to urban gardening, among them Open Shop which provides guidance from knowledgeable instructors for all types of projects including furnishings made from reclaimed wood.

Green Jobs Training In partnership with the Cara Program, RX provides paid green jobs training opportunities in the fields of carpentry, materials management, and retail warehousing to people with barriers to employment. 4 out of the 11 staff are graduates of the program and others have started their own construction companies or landed jobs in shipping and receiving or warehousing and logistics.

Additionally RX supports innovation in reuse by donating materials to partner non-profit organizations who are working to rebuild their communities with reclaimed materials. They also host design competitions to foster the innovative reuse of more challenging materials.


Over 9400 tons of materials diverted
Provided job training opportunities to 82 individuals
Created $4 million in value to warehouse customers, RX made clients, workshops, training programs and other non-profits.
Averaged over 100 volunteer hours per month
Created 13 permanent green jobs

2016 GOALS

RX plans to continue to improve and is looking at ways they can manage an inventory system in the warehouse.


In partnership with Preservation Chicago, Rebuilding Exchange has received materials (including the station’s facade) from the Loop’s Madison/Wabash CTA station. The green/brown/purple/orange/pink line has served as a transit hub since it first opened in 1896, 119 years ago. The facade will be stored here in waiting until a history museum can exhibit it along with other historically significant items.

To celebrate this partnership and these precious materials, RX is hosting the Madison and Wabash Bash. This FREE event is open to the public on Friday, August 28 from 7-9:30 p.m! Don’t miss your chance to grab a piece of history and reclaim it as your own.

Food and drink will be served (details coming soon) and materials will go on sale at 7 pm through direct purchase and auction. The warehouse will be open for business as usual during this time as well.

The event will be all ages, but drinks will only be served to those 21+, so please make sure you have your ID. Stay tuned for more info!

To read more about the deconstruction of the station as well as details on the materials, check out these Chicago Tribune articles here and here.

For more info contact Caitlin Grey at: or call (773) 252-2234 ext. 5


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