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City offers immersive training to prepare diverse workforce for growing deconstruction industry

In July 2016, Portland became the first city in the country to adopt an ordinance that requires full deconstruction of structures built in 1916 or earlier or historic properties. Since the ordinance went into effect in October 2016, 22 houses have been subject to the new requirements and valuable materials from disassembled houses or duplexes have been salvaged for reuse instead of crushed and landfilled. From start to finish, deconstruction protects health, generates affordable reusable building materials and creates pathways to careers in the growing deconstruction industry.

The City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) allows only Certified Deconstruction Contractors to work on the projects covered by the new law. Since fall of 2016, the number of certified companies has steadily risen to 12 with more in the pipeline. To support the demand for new workforce in an equitable way, BPS partnered with the Building Material Reuse Association (BMRA) and Earth Advantage to host a training that prioritizes participation by women, people of color, and historically underserved groups.   

Workforce training group

On March 13, 2017, BPS and its partners launched a free, 12-day hands-on workforce training that takes place on a series of active deconstruction sites. During the training, 15 students, of which more than half are women, are out in the field to help prepare them for work on a deconstruction site. “Deconstruction is filled with hard, heavy, physical work, and every day presents a new challenge,” said Rebecca Hoefer, Deconstructor with Lovett Deconstruction.

My jobsite changes regularly and functions in all weather conditions and since I started doing this work, I come home feeling physically and mentally satisfied. I can honestly say that changing [my] career path to deconstruction was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Workforce training group

Several local non-profits including Oregon Tradeswomen, Portland Youth Builders, The ReBuilding Center and the Urban League of Portland promoted the training and provided referrals to help create a diverse, dedicated and inclusive group of trainees. BPS, Metro and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are sponsoring the training.

The 12-day program concludes on March 29, 2017, and is anticipated to generate a pool of qualified candidates prepared to start a career in deconstruction.

Workforce training group

In May 2017, BPS will provide a report to City Council on the status of the deconstruction program and ordinance.

Visit the City of Portland’s website, www.exploredecon.com, for more details about our Deconstruction Program, Deconstruction Contractor Spotlights and additional training opportunities as they become available.