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BPS News: Portland City Council takes step to increase deconstruction activity in Portland

Media Contact: Christine Llobregat, 503-823-7007
Feb. 17, 2016

Portland, ORE – Today, Portland City Council approved a resolution that directs the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to develop code language that requires projects seeking a demolition permit of a house or duplex to fully deconstruct that structure if it was built before 1916 or is a designated historic resource.

“Today Portland became the first city in the country to ensure that the act of taking down the homes of our past has the least amount of impact on the environment and the surrounding neighbors,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. “Keeping valuable materials out of the landfill reduces carbon emissions and gives people affordable options for fixing up their homes.”

In Portland, more than 300 single-family homes are demolished each year. This produces thousands of tons of waste — a majority of which could be salvaged for reuse. Deconstruction is a way to remove structures that keeps valuable materials out of the landfill, protects health, creates pathways to construction careers and generates affordable reusable building materials. Currently, less than 10 percent of houses that are removed use deconstruction.

After the code changes take effect on October 31, 2016, approximately 33 percent of single-family demolitions would be subject to the deconstruction requirement. Increased deconstruction will:

  • Divert 8 million pounds (4,000 tons) of materials for reuse (annually).
  • Create job opportunities that act as a pathway for construction careers.
  • Increase the likelihood of discovering materials containing lead and asbestos for safe removal and disposal.

For the past several years, the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) has been working to increase deconstruction activity through outreach, education and grants. Since April 2015, BPS has worked with a Deconstruction Advisory Group (DAG) that includes representatives from the community, development firms, builders, demolition contractors, historic preservation agencies and the salvage industry.

For more information about deconstruction in Portland, visit