This university saved $530,000 through reuse on Rheaply

June 27, 2024

A private research university in Chicago, Illinois with over 2,800 academic staff and 18,000 students has achieved major cost savings by using the Rheaply platform. As one of the most renowned institutions in the Midwest, they are committed to reducing the environmental impact of their students, staff, and surrounding communities.

High-performance buildings are a top priority for the sustainability and facilities teams, as campus buildings contribute to approximately 70 percent of the university’s greenhouse gas emissions. This university, like many others, has a commitment to lower their carbon footprint. This particular initiative falls on the facilities team who aim at harnessing the power of circular economy principles to reduce embodied carbon emissions and achieve cost savings in the process.

In addition to the needs of the campus community, the university is committed to achieving a sustainable campus, with a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. Furniture and equipment being trashed before its true end-of-life contributes to their embodied carbon emissions.


Disconnected supply & demand

In any university, there are labs and departments with a demand for something. Electronics, furniture, lab equipment, and much more could be sitting idle in one campus building while others are left wishing they could have it.

Faculty at this institution have expressed the need for better distribution of IT equipment across campus, but similar demand exists for all kinds of items. In the past, a department might have a spreadsheet containing their inventory. Finding or receiving an item might have only been accomplished through a complicated email chain.

Laboratories, which form the cornerstone of a research institution like this, have found great use in high-value items that might otherwise be overlooked. Meanwhile, furniture, with its omnipresent nature, quickly became an evident symbol of Rheaply’s success. The tangible and visible reuse of furniture allowed Rheaply’s positive impact to be seen and appreciated by all in the university, further imbibing the spirit of sustainable reuse within all.

Stage 1: Lab cleanout pilot

In 2019, Rheaply was invited to help clean out a decommissioned lab. With the help of students and faculty from the lab, our team spent 3 days documenting the lab’s assets and making the items available virtually to students and researchers from other departments within the university.

This project was the first true test of Rheaply’s capability to reuse at scale. At the end of the 3 days, $300,000 worth of research assets were diverted from the landfill via Rheaply. This initial success led sustainability stakeholders to begin scaling Rheaply across campus.

Stage 2: More than a decommission

Remembering the success of the lab cleanout pilot, university staff came to Rheaply with an off-campus warehouse that needed to be liquidated. The project was in the early stages, and Pickens-Kane, a moving and storage company, had been secured as the decommission provider. This university wanted to ensure as many of the assets as possible could be reused and kept out of landfill. Rheaply’s platform and rich network were required to make that happen.

The 31,000+ lbs of items in this warehouse ran the gamut from chairs and sofas to ornamental mirrors and lamps and even a gold chandelier!

Listings were initially published to the university’s Rheaply instance and available to be reused internally for about 2 weeks. This provided the perfect opportunity for items to find new homes across campus before the school year began — in fact, 14,630 lbs of items were reused internally.

But because time was of the essence and the warehouse needed to be fully cleared out, university staff worked with Rheaply’s Sustainability team to curate a Preferred Network, or private sharing group, of community partners to gain safe and secure access to their decommissioned assets. In less than a month, all assets were claimed and transported to their next destination, avoiding the landfill entirely.

Warehouse decommission impact

Value recaptured internally
$ 0
Value donated externally
$ 0
Diverted from landfill
0 lbs
Embodied carbon avoided
0 kg

Recipient Organizations

“Initially, the thought of creating listings for 650 items spanning 10,000 square foot warehouse storage over multiple floors was daunting! But Rheaply’s interface is so easy to use, and the ability to accurately document the economic and environmental impact of the item’s reuse simultaneously was really efficient.

It was incredible to witness how much second life value these items had within the community and that truly would not have been possible without the Rheaply team and platform.”

Kevin Munroe

Senior Project Manager, Pickens-Kane

Stage 3: Widespread reuse success

Since 2019, this university has successfully harnessed the benefits of Rheaply, muscling its way toward a more sustainable future. This commendable initiative saw an active exchange of office furniture, IT equipment, and lab materials among the university community. By repurposing existing resources, they effectively chipped away at the demand for brand new items, thus promoting cost savings and sustainability on campus.

The success behind the integration of Rheaply is grounded in the building of trust within administrative groups and the propagation of the program through word of mouth and communication to other departments. The university leveraged numerous communication channels, including newsletters, to authenticate Rheaply’s use as a primary internal procurement system. This strategic alignment helped users to see Rheaply as an innovative solution to streamline operations.

Total customer impact

Value recaptured
$ 0
Diverted from landfill
0 lbs
Embodied carbon avoided
0 kg

Campus-wide reuse helps everyone

This university serves as a beacon for institutions of education worldwide, showcasing the untapped potential of combining technological innovation with circular economy principles. This initiative has not only resulted in significant savings but has also laid down a blueprint for other universities to save money and boost sustainability across campus operations.

If you’re ready to scale reuse at your organization, Rheaply is here to help!

Find what you need like a university in Missouri that saved $50,000 by posting items for students and staff to claim for reuse at a campus circularity center.

Use what you already have like this university, resulting in major cost savings and landfill avoidance.

Free up storage space like RUSH University Medical Center who has recaptured almost $600,000 in value by reusing across their hospital campus.

Sell what you no longer need through a preferred network of buyers sourced by our team and approved by your organization.

Decommission smarter by letting our team deliver speedy, tangible solutions to your project.

Impact your community through donation matchmaking and comprehensive reporting.

Invest in reuse today and commit to the future of your business tomorrow.

Get our monthly newseletter delivered to your inbox:

Share this: