Rebuilding homes and lives in Evanston | the ReFab Diaries
Evanston rebuilding warehouse

Rebuilding homes. Rebuilding lives. 

Support the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse


Did you know that about 40% of the waste in most landfills is building material? Construction and demolition have created so much waste that in Illinois alone, most of our garbage has to be trucked out of state because out landfills are, well, full. 

Enter the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse (ERW). Founded in 2012 by Lou Dickson, ERW is committed to reducing landfill waste through sustainable deconstruction and renovative building practices. Picture the careful removal of reusable things like cabinets, flooring, appliances and light fixtures versus wrecking-ball-style demolition. 

The reclaimed building materials (and an array of ephemera like this clock) are then sold at the warehouse at low cost to the community. The proceeds from those sales support education, workforce-training and job-development programs. Yup - ERW is also in the business of rebuilding lives. Read more about the workforce training here (30 graduates so far).  




As you can imagine (and see!), the material stored at the ERW takes up a lot of space. Marketing manager Annette told me this morning that only about 5% of their stock doesn't sell (so they give it away). However, it can take a few years to move certain items, so having enough storage space is key. 

Which is one of the reasons ... drumroll please... ERW is moving into a new, larger space in the fall of 2020. In a year that feels devoid of good news, this is GREAT news! One of the best kept secrets in Illinois is about to be bigger and better. 

"The vision is to create a space for people who care about 
sustainable living, creative reuse, and building an 
environmentally conscious community. The expanded space
 will maintain key things that our community knows
 and loves but BIGGER! "


They will have:
  • a retail space open to the public of high quality, reclaimed building materials
  • the ability to accept more materials (and thus divert more materials from landfills!) from donors and our deconstruction services
  • products that will be easier to see and shop
  • better learning spaces for our workforce training program, which provides paid transitional employment opportunities, marketable certifications, and support to help individuals build careers in the building trades
  • workshops and events that promote education in repair, carpentry and fun!
  • meeting spaces for area organizations working to build a more sustainable community


How are they living their values in the build out of the new space?

Their Deconstruction Team is doing much of the work and learning marketable skills in the process. They've partnered with Sylvia Wooller of Remake Architecture, a firm specializing in environmentally sustainable design, and will be using reclaimed materials throughout the space, providing a visual example of how the materials they salvage can be used.

While keeping their costs low, the move is still an expensive undertaking. With just FIVE DAYS to go, help them reach their $25,000 goal by donating now - every donation will be matched




IMAGE CREDIT: all renderings by Studio Talo.






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