When a building gets demolished, or refurbished, what happens to its parts? They might get destroyed, or just thrown away to the back of a junkyard, never to be seen again – or, they will get reused. And it’s that last option that Garry Cooper Jr, founder of Rheaply, decided to tackle when he launched his enterprise asset management venture in 2016. Rheaply is a digital platform that serves the circular economy, essentially enabling the rehoming of parts of buildings and equipment just before a structure is torn down, placing them in new, local buildings in construction, in a bid to enhance upcycling, sustainable architecture and local enterprise.
Ohio-born Cooper is now based in Chicago and the idea to found Rheaply was born there, thanks to his keen observation skills and entrepreneurial mind (while now he operates in the construction and architecture world, his background is in science). ‘It was super organic,’ he says. ‘I came to Chicago in 2008, and studied at Northwestern University, trying to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. I noticed in our lab we had lots of material that we were not using, from chairs, to plastics, chemicals, and I kept hearing people saying, oh if only I had this or that, and I knew we had whatever they needed somewhere in our closet. So I started a resource sharing platform – it was basically a cart!’