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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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Alternatives to Traditional Demolition

Existing buildings represent a significant investment in resources – time, material, energy, financial and human. Much of
this investment is lost when a building is demolished. Before deciding on a redevelopment plan for your property, consider the five following alternatives to traditional demolition. These alternatives offer many benefits including:

  • Lower development costs. 
  • Conservation of natural resources. 
  • Reduced carbon emissions.


Renovationrenovation project


The greenest building is the one already built. Renovation of an existing building allows for the continued use of a structure without significant investment in new materials. Preserving character-defining features and materials in older buildings can also make a renovated building more marketable.

Grants and low-interest rate loans may be available for renovation projects. Contact: Portland Development Commission, 



Historic Preservation

For buildings at least 50 years old, listing in the National Register of Historic Places offers several incentives. The Special Assessment tax program freezes the assessed value of a property for ten years. A substantial benefit can be gained if assessed value is frozen prior to a major property rehabilitation.

The Historic Tax Credits program offers a federal income tax credit equal to 20 percent of qualified rehabilitation expenditures. Depending upon circumstances, the credit can be used by the owner or could be sold to a tax credit equity partner.

  • Visit for Portland Zoning Code incentives for historic preservation. 
  • For information on historic listings contact the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at 503-823-7666. 
  • For more information on tax incentives contact the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) at 503-986-0671.



Building Relocationmoving a structure

In some situations, an existing building may be relocated to a new site. Selling or donating an existing building for relocation can eliminate many of the labor and disposal/recycling costs associated with traditional demolition. Costs associated with moving the building and utilities (overhead lines) are typically handled by the new owner of the building.

Visit for a list of building relocation companies.






Deconstruction / Selective Salvage / Reuse 


When restoring or relocating a building is not feasible, consider deconstructing the structure. Deconstructing a building in the opposite order of construction preserves important historic materials and allows for the reuse of remaining building and finish materials such as dimensional lumber, trim and flooring. These materials can be incorporated into another building, sold or donated to material salvage companies for a tax-deductible receipt.

deconstruction project

If full deconstruction is not feasible, salvaging the historic or architectural elements from a building prior to demolition (selective salvage) assures that the historic or architectural assets of the structure are not entirely lost. 
Deconstruction of a structure can yield valuable building, finish and architectural materials. Containers are used to collect mixed and separated construction and demolition debris for later recycling.

Visit for a list of salvage and deconstruction service providers.



Recyclingrecycling at commercial construction site


Recycling materials is often less expensive than disposing of the same materials. Many waste construction materials can be recycled into new products and fuel. Recycling reduces the need to extract and process raw materials, thereby reducing the demand for natural resources and energy.

For maximum recycling results, separate materials for collection (e.g., wood, metal, cardboard). This ensures that the materials are recycled to the maximum extent possible. In contrast, mixing of materials (placing construction waste in a single container for later sorting) will result in a significantly lower overall recycling rate. Keeping food waste out of containers will also ensure that materials are recycled and not turned away or sent to the landfill due to contamination.

Visit or call 503-234-3000 for a list of recycling facilities searchable by material and location.