Oregon Leads in Deconstruction & Smart Demolition

Recycling salvageable materialsPortland demolition contractors are increasingly turning to deconstructing buildings; taking apart buildings and reusing or recycling salvageable materials.

Instead of simply knocking down a building with heavy machinery, the practice of deconstruction includes systematically and carefully taking apart the building, so materials are kept intact and able to be reused or recycled.

This reduces waste, allowing demolition companies in Portland to keep large amounts of it out of landfills. With traditional demolition, many of the building materials would be hauled away to a landfill.

In order to perform a deconstruction in Portland, demolition companies are expected to follow a set of requirements that ultimately seek to:

  • Maximize the salvage of valuable building materials for reuse
  • Reduce carbon emissions associated with demolition
  • Reduce the amount of demolition waste disposed of in landfills
  • Minimize the adverse impacts associated with building removal

The requirements of deconstruction must include a Demolition Permit Application and the demolition contractor must be a Certified Deconstruction Contractor. Heavy machinery may be used, but not in a way that would render the components of the building unsuitable for salvage. The project must be thoroughly documented, including receipts for donation, sale, and the recycling and disposal of all materials for any deconstruction project. Materials intended for reuse on site must be documented with photographs. Violating this requirement can subject the contractor to a penalty of up to $10,000.

You can learn more about Portland’s deconstruction codes here.

According to Oregon.gov:

The City of Portland has led the way with deconstruction in Oregon (even creating an ordinance in 2016 requiring deconstruction for older homes), and DEQ has supported this work by providing funding for three projects:

  • Individual grants of $3,000 to homeowners to encourage deconstruction over mechanical demolition (this program has now ended)
  • A training program for contractors to become certified deconstruction contractors
  • A training program for ‘on-the-ground’ deconstruction workers

We invite you to learn more by reading the Deconstruction Program Six-Month Status Report.

Benefits of Deconstruction & Smart Demolition

Demolition jackhammer dustIn 2015, 548 million tons of C&D debris were generated in the United States. Demolition is responsible for more than 90 percent of this. If only a quarter of the buildings demolished each year were deconstructed instead, a potential 20 million tons of debris would be diverted from landfills.

Deconstruction cuts down on the greenhouse gas emissions created by landfill incinerators. It also reduces the need to manufacture new materials and components. Sometimes as much as 90% of a building can be reused.

Apart from the environmental benefits, here are some other reasons to consider deconstruction:

  • Deconstruction helps preserve historic and architectural elements, like pillars made from old growth wood, to an intricate facade.
  • Materials can be donated to non-profit organizations. They can be used to build more schools, hospitals, and help those individuals who wouldn’t be able to afford the cost of new materials.
  • Deconstruction can also be more affordable than traditional demolition, sometimes bringing in generous tax deductions. Demolition requires waste disposal, which is not inexpensive.

There still are some instances where demolition makes more sense than deconstruction. Typically, these instances are when a building is unfit for human habitation, or the building is condemned. In these situations, speak with an experienced demolition contractor who can correctly assess and recommend what course of action to take, along with giving you an estimate of costs and benefits.

Common hazards graphic

At Elder, we begin with a custom demolition plan that includes a look at what materials are salvageable. This helps us eliminate waste and the plan takes into consideration the estimated market value of salvageable materials, mothballing options, legal considerations, historical requirements, and safe decommissioning options.

Not every demolition company in Portland is the same, so choose one who has the experience and the expertise to make your next project both affordable and environmentally friendly. Contact us today to learn more about our demolition services and we can assist you with completing your project.

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