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New deconstruction grants from City of Portland encourage alternatives to mechanical demolition; save valuable materials for reuse

deconstruction project

When removing a home for new construction is necessary, the City of Portland seeks to encourage the salvage and reuse of building materials with deconstruction instead of mechanical demolition. Grants are available now to help promote deconstruction, build capacity within the industry and encourage efficiencies and innovation.

“Our goal is to preserve neighborhood character and affordability by discouraging demolitions. But when buildings must come down, that work should still serve the public good,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “Taking apart buildings in a way that allows for salvaging valuable materials for reuse benefits our community, economy, and environment. Our building stock is rich in quality materials that should find their way back into new building projects whenever possible. Deconstruction helps harvest these materials, and the Deconstruction Grant Program will serve as a tool to advance the practice, helping our city grow sustainably." 

Grant program features easy-to-use online application

  • As of March 2016, the program is currently accepting applications.
  • Maximum grant awards: $2,500 for full deconstruction; $500 for partial projects.
  • Applications will be reviewed and selected weekly.
  • Applications are restricted to projects involving the full removal of a house or duplex within the Portland city limits.
  • Find the online application at www.ExploreDecon.com.

Why deconstruction?

Deconstruction helps achieve the policies and actions related to the current efforts of the Climate Action Plan Update and the Comprehensive Plan Update.

  • Deconstruction supports six to eight jobs for every one job associated with traditional mechanized demolition.
  • Salvaging reusable material supports the local economy, creates viable local enterprises and offers an affordable option for residents and businesses to acquire quality used building materials such as old-growth lumber.
  • Deconstruction offers greater carbon benefits by preserving the embodied energy of existing building materials and avoiding the creation of greenhouse gasses associated with landfilling waste.

Deconstruction Advisory Group volunteers helped design program that won unanimous City Council approval

In April 2015 the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) convened a Deconstruction Advisory Group (DAG) to advise BPS on the development of incentives and methods to increase deconstruction as an alternative to mechanical demolition. At a June 3, 2015 City Council hearing, BPS recommended establishing a deconstruction grant program as a first step. City Council unanimously supported the recommendation and asked BPS to return in January 2016 with a status report on the grant program and recommendations for next steps. The DAG will continue to meet during fall of 2015 to assist in grant program oversight and development of recommendations.

For more information on deconstruction or to apply for a grant, please visit www.ExploreDecon.com or contact Shawn Wood at shawn.wood@portlandoregon.gov or 503-823-5468.