When Chicago’s buildings are demolished,

what happens to the materials inside?


In November 2017, materials experts and design innovators across Chicago convened for three panel discussions on building materials reuse and the future of our city. 



Nov 2, 2017

OWNERSHIP explored the economic realities that govern the salvage industry, by tracing reused materials from their source, to local or regional end markets. Diverse professionals - from real estate to waste hauling - gathered to discuss the transfer of ownership in a building's lifecycle. Audience members were offered unique insight on materials ownership, community wealth, and private value.


Nov 9, 2017

SCALE brought together entrepreneurs of existing reuse businesses in Chicago, from boutique to industrial scales. Panelists shared successes and challenges of the salvage business model and shared ideas for increased adoption of reused building materials into new construction. Attendees learned first-hand about existing reuse operations and new models for future development.


Nov 16, 2017

 VISION inspired discussion on the local and regional future of building materials reuse in Chicago by inviting dialogue on the topics of: labor and workforce development; adaptive reuse and community resilience; industry accreditation; and policy advancement and implementation. Panelists envisioned a robust reuse marketplace in Chicago and discussed what it will take to get there. 


Learn from experts. Innovate solutions. Scale an industry. 



In 2012,  the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed the Demolition Debris Diversion (3D) ordinance, establishing a program for the recycling and reuse of construction and demolition waste. The 3D ordinance requires that a total of 70% of a project's demolition debris by weight be diverted for recycling and 5% for reuse. The ordinance has resulted in the recovery of more than 540,000 tons of building materials and another 100,000 tons of material have been reused or salvaged.

 As a result of the 3D ordinance, an influx of reused building materials have flooded the Chicagoland area's existing but underdeveloped reuse marketplace, with limited consumer demand or retail outlet. Many of these salvaged materials are incredibly valuable due to their material qualities, craftsmanship, and patina. 

In 2015, Cook County approached Archeworks to explore new thinking, ideas, and applications for salvaged materials that would raise awareness of reuse and expand the county’s building materials marketplace. Through the multiyear initiative WA$TED MARKET, Archeworks has explored systemic challenges to scaling reuse in south suburban Cook County and imagined creative solutions for the public sphere.

WA$TED MARKET: Convenings explored capacity-building in the reuse marketplace through a series of moderated conversations. Three panelist-style events on the topics of OWNERSHIP, SCALE, and VISION engaged experts and influencers in discussion about how to create a more robust building materials reuse marketplace in Chicago and beyond.


WA$TED MARKET is generously supported by the the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust


Public Interest Design


WA$TED MARKET: Convenings took a participatory approach to market development by connecting downstream industry experts with upstream innovators and influencers to generate actionable solutions for change. The panel discussion audio was recorded and will be shared on the WA$TED MARKET website.

By convening and connecting diverse and dispersed audiences, these events aim to create cross-sector synergies and catalyze localized innovation from the bottom up. The waste industry is networked, distributed, and complex - and calls for similar solutions. Convenings aims to spark fresh conversation, thoughts, and dialogue around building materials reuse in an accessible and engaging format that is recorded for future reference.

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