First Deconstruction Law in the Nation Passes in Portland

Antique glass doorknobs, wood framing from long-gone old growth forests, basket weave bathroom tiles, and inlaid hardwood floors are all beloved touches in old homes. Instead of stripping our forests and land for natural resources to decorate and build our new homes, we can harvest local reuse places like the ReBuilding Center, Habitat Restore and Salvage Works. They are already wonderful places to find hidden treasures, but they will soon be teaming with history!

That’s because Portland City Council approved in February the first resolution of its kind in the country that will require development to fully deconstruct homes built before 1916 instead of demolish it.

“Our goal is to preserve neighborhood character and affordability by discouraging demolitions,” Said Mayor Charlie Hales, “But when buildings do come down, that work should still serve the public good. Taking apart buildings in a way that allows for salvaging valuable materials for reuse benefits our community, economy, and environment.”

Last year 300 homes were demolished in Portland. This crunch and dump method of removing buildings results in a mixed pile of broken materials with a very low recovery rate. With the new law in place an estimated 33 percent of those homes will be taken apart by hand, allowing materials to be separated for use while creating pathways to deconstruction careers.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability also created incentives to use deconstruction for newer buildings and connecting with training resources for workers and contractors who want to learn this trade. Explore Deconstruction with the City of Portland online.