About Rebuilding Exchange
Our mission is to create a market for reclaimed building materials. We do this by diverting materials from landfills and making them accessible for reuse through our retail warehouse, by promoting sustainable deconstruction practices, by providing education and job training programs, and by creating innovative models for sustainable reuse.
Rebuilding Exchange is a project of the Delta Institute.
Diverting waste and creating assets
Since our inception in 2009, Rebuilding Exchange has diverted thousands of tons of building materials from the landfill, and simultaneously created over $2 million worth of quality reuse materials available to the public.
Promoting sustainable deconstruction practices and educating on reuse
Through contractor forums, educational seminars with local and public experts, as well as speaking engagements around the region, Rebuilding Exchange helps lead the national effort to educate on deconstruction and reuse. Rebuilding Exchange also offers over 100 hands-on public workshops per year to educate and empower on the many different ways to reuse materials. Through our thriving volunteer program we leverage the people resources of our community to build broader support for deconstruction and reuse, and reach a diverse audience of stakeholders.
Training people with barriers to employment
The deconstruction and building materials reuse sector offers employment opportunities for people with a range of skill sets and backgrounds, and we need a trained workforce who understands the value and opportunities associated with this growing industry. To date, Rebuilding Exchange has provided job training opportunities to 82 people with barriers to employment in the fields of deconstruction, materials management, warehousing, retail and carpentry.
Creating innovative models for sustainability and reuse
Rebuilding Exchange supports innovation in reuse by donating materials to partner non-profit organizations who are working to rebuild their communities with reclaimed materials. We also host design competitions to foster the innovative reuse of more challenging materials, and launched RX Made, an in-house furniture line made from local and salvaged materials.
- Stanley Branch
If you’ve ever walked through the RX and thought you heard the smooth baritone of Barry White, you probably just encountered Stanley Branch, our smooth-talking warehouse associate. He might be a St. Louis native, but Stan is a Chicago guy all the way. Stan started full-time in May 2011, and has been a motivator and role model for our job training program ever since. Known for being extremely helpful and attentive to customers, Stan also keeps the warehouse looking its best. His outgoing personality makes him the life of a party whether it’s on the basketball court, at the gym, on the town, or right here at the RX.
- Casey Burkitt
RX Made Associate
Casey started at Rebuilding Exchange as a warehouse volunteer before sneaking his way into the workshop and onto the RX Made team. A product designer by trade he’s a perpetual maker of objects. He enjoys breathing new life into old, forgotten treasures from applying a simple coat of paint to turning old growth lumber into furniture full of history and character. When he’s not hauling, chopping, joining, gluing, scraping, and planing at the RX, he can be found annoying his wife and two dogs with the banjo.
- Meegan Czop
Director of Business Development
Meegan has been with Rebuilding Exchange from the very beginning. She hails from Michigan, where she previously worked as a mason for historic restoration projects. With a background in art and design, Meegan prides herself on scavenging rare and unusual objects, many of which now reside on the walls and shelves of bars and restaurants across the Midwest. Outside of the RX, Meegan can be found exploring abandoned buildings with her dog Boomer or collecting broken objects to creatively transform.
- Larry Drinkwater
Larry, a college athlete and veteran who served in Beirut in the 1980s, joined Rebuilding Exchange in late 2012 as a Donations Associate after going through our job training program. Larry is an overall positive force in our organization and is always great with customers.
- Rachal Duggan
Rachal grew up around a very handy father who often rummaged for reclaimed building materials for his roofing and carpentry. Since that point, she found her passion on using less and creating more. With environmental impact at the center of her focus, Rachal acts as a Chicago Conservation Corps (C3) Leader and dedicated volunteer to a variety of environmental groups here in the city. When she’s not bookkeeping and managing HR at Rebuilding Exchange, Rachal can be found working on her drawings, roaming Chicago by bike or walking her dog Buddy. To see more of Rachal’s drawings, check out www.rachalduggan.com
- Alex Enarson
Before he became assistant manager, Alex was one of the RX’s most eager customers, often spending hours digging through stacks of old-growth lumber in search of that one rare, true 2”x4”. Needless to say, Alex is a self-proclaimed wood nerd, and always enjoys fielding odd or technical wood questions from customers. When he’s not solving IT and website issues, Alex is on the warehouse floor, helping customers with their projects.
- John Lloyd
John came to Rebuilding Exchange by way of Deconstruction Technology where he trained in warehousing, woodworking, sales and customer service. As a donations associate, he plays an integral role in finding the great inventory we sell at Rebuilding Exchange. In his free time, John enjoys making stuff like tables in the wood shop, and you can usually find him either on the truck or in the warehouse, being helpful, and sporting a colorful Do-Rag on his head.
- Joe Mitchell
This Bachelor of Sculpture/Master of Marketing made his way to the Rebuilding Exchange after growing up in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, attending college at the Universe-City of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and spending a year teaching English in Lima, Peru. Hobbies include vegetarian cooking, disk-jockeying, laughing, and taking it hard to the paint of life.
- Dwayne Oliver
Dwayne Oliver is a member of the donations team and also works with the RX Made team, transforming old pieces of reclaimed wood into new pieces of furniture. This gives him a huge feeling of accomplishment and he likes to show off what he is learning. Dwayne lives on the south side of Chicago, but he enjoys exploring the entire city.
- Blake Sloane
Director of Production
Blake is the Workshop Manager at Rebuilding Exchange, where he oversees production of the RX Made furniture line and leads the “Make It/Take It “ workshop series. He is a lifelong tinkerer/builder who is fond of combing alleyways, thrift stores, and grandma’s attic for materials to incorporate into his work and classes. Blake was just chosen as one of “10 Furniture Maker’s Keeping Woodworking Alive” by Re-Nest. Get in touch with him if you want a custom piece of furniture built by Rebuilding Exchange. You can see some of his work at www.blakesloane.com.
- Vanessa Smith
Vanessa grew up on a small dairy farm in Minnesota where she gained a passion for good food, hard work and creative reuse. She loves making something from nothing, especially grafting apple and pear trees for an urban orchard, composting food scraps and yard waste in her backyard and growing fig trees from mere twigs in her living room.
- Keith Walsh
Keith brings his decade of experience working as a props master for theater and television to the Rebuilding Exchange. If you think you might have seen this guy at your house, chances are good, you’re right! Working the last year as the pickups manager/driver, Keith spent many a day traveling the city picking up all your generous donations. What is he doing when not saving the city’s building materials from a miserable life at the landfill? Keith is a competitive 9-ball pool player, with hopes of taking his game to Vegas. But don’t panic, we won’t let him quit his day job just yet.
- Heather White
Director of Community Outreach and Engagement
Heather is the perfect fit as Director of Community Outreach and Engagement at Rebuilding Exchange. She loves engaging the community in conversation and hands on engagement in anything relating to recycling and building material. She learned how to wield tools as a kid tagging along at her father’s construction sites in Iowa. Her interest and experience in building has evolved into a passion for green construction, deconstruction, and energy efficiency making her the RX’s resident sustainability aficionado. She has also racked up many volunteer hours on projects from coast to coast and always loves lending a hand. In her spare time, she can be found searching for the newest vintage treasure and traveling locally, nationally and internationally.
- Elise Zelechowski
Founder and Executive Director
Born and raised in Chicago, Elise spent her childhood combing through alleys and thrift stores, puzzled as to why people were always throwing perfectly good things away. Elise’s interest in sustainability and urban planning led her to the Delta Institute, where she went on to work on community and economic development projects and eventually found Rebuilding Exchange in 2008. When she’s not at the RX, you can find her at the dunes in Gary, Indiana or riding her bike around Humboldt Park.
- Jack Crane
- Vice President and Manager of Neighborhood Lending, The Northern Trust Company
- Evelyn Diaz
- Commissioner, Chicago Department of Family & Support Services
- John Hopkins, AIA, LEED AP
- Design Director, IA Interior Architects Chicago
- Gabriel Plotkin
- Associate, Miller Shakman & Beem, LLP
- Jean Pogge
- Chief Executive Officer, Delta Institute
- Rashmi Ramaswamy, LEED AP
- Co-Founder and Architect, SHED Studio
- Krupa Shah
- Corporate Counsel, Groupon
- Sundee Wislow, LEED AP
- Director of Sustainability, U.S. Equities Realty
- Elise Zelechowski, LEED AP
- Executive Director, Rebuilding Exchange
Managing Director, Delta Institute