The historic St. Mary’s Catholic Church rectory in Owen Sound. The empire-style building was constructed in 1872. A wraparound porch was added in 1917 and was enclosed, as it appears today, in 1965. Denis Langlois
“Not only would we be destroying building materials superior in quality to what we can easily obtain today, we would be burning fossil fuels to transport these wasted materials to the landfill,” Elgie said. “Replacing these building materials extracts a huge toll on our natural environment – the fossil fuels burned, the greenhouse gases emitted, the air and water pollutants generated when new iron ore is mined, new steel smelted, new girders manufactured and transported to warehouses and ultimately Owen Sound – to mention just a few of the greenhouse gas-emitting steps in the construction process.”
Green, the deputy ombudsman, points to a $4 million project in the Overlook neighborhood. The contractor failed to remove the siding before demolition took place. The penalty? Just $876 in administrative fees due to the stop-work order. (BDS does not issue fines for first-time violations.)”Why follow the rules if the fine totals $876 and you’ve saved $5,000 on removing the siding by hand?” Green asks. “Human nature is not on the side of doing right.”
Homes along Laukahi Street with Hawaii Loa Ridge homes in the background, 2015. The City and County of Honolulu could pass a law to require better use of teardowns.
Seeing the pile of rubbish that was once a house made of beautiful clear heart redwood, I could not help thinking about the environmental activists, U.S. National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service staff who have worked for decades in California to save the remaining giant redwoods from logging, while here in Hawaii we are using them for landfill. There was a significant value loss as well since similar redwood boards (8-feet-by-8-feet) would cost at least $50 each if bought locally.
A work crew deconstructs a Southeast Portland home in 2015 (The Oregonian/File)
The majority of council members said Wednesday that they plan to approve the ordinance, and Commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty and Chloe Eudaly said they would like to see a more severe penalty for violators. A first offense can lead to a fine of up to $500 and a third or more can be up to $1,500. “I support everything else, but I think if you’re going to hold people accountable, they’ve got to feel it,” Hardesty said. “This is not something that they’re going to feel.”
“Number one, it’s an economic driver,” said 15th District Alderman Russell Stamper II. “We’re providing opportunities for individuals to learn skills on how to deconstruct, put some money in their pocket, and most of all have a job right here in the city of Milwaukee.”
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is now accepting applications for the 2020 Derelict Building Grant Program. The program promotes the reuse or recycling of building materials from dilapidated buildings in communities of 5,000 residents or less.
The Solid Waste Division (SWD) strives to enhance the efficacy of Construction & Demolition (C&D) recycling. SWD is offering a new $700,000 C&D Grant Program for innovative projects that support King County’s Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan (Comp Plan). As established in the King County Strategic Climate Action Plan (SCAP), King County aims to divert C&D materials from landfills at a rate of 85 percent by 2025, and also has a countywide goal of zero waste of resources by 2030.
New Zealand Ecolabelling Trust general manager, Francesca Lipscombe, says the new ecolabel could be a game changer for the construction industry. She is pictured at the Waitakere Refuse and Recycling Centre with Auckland Council manager of waste solutions Parul Sood.
The Environmental Choice label would differentiate C&D service providers from each other by their environmental impact and mark those who were top providers and demonstrated best practice around waste minimisation and reduction.
Since 2016, one-fourth of whole houses that were taken down in Palo Alto were deconstructed instead of demolished. This means workers were required to disassemble structures so materials could be recycled. The new policy intends to bring the successes of deconstruction to a city-wide scale. The ordinance will impact approximately 114 projects annually, according to a City Council Staff Report.
Ruthie Mundell stands among new and vintage chandeliers—all salvaged and ready to find a new home. (Teresa Carey)
“You have a grassroots momentum for something like deconstruction, and you have a massive industry against it,” says Sara Badiali.
The building material reuse consultant thinks regulations are an effective way to make a change. Yet, she has searched the world and “can’t find any place that actually has the words ‘building deconstruction’ in legislation.”
Badiali worked with the city of Portland, Oregon, to create the nation’s first reuse ordinance. Now, Portland homes built before 1916 must be evaluated for deconstruction. Other cities like San Francisco and Milwaukee are drafting their own ordinances.
Most of that material salvaged from the old Mercantile made their way to Home ReSource. Roughly 200,000 board feet of lumber ended up in new projects across Missoula. MRA required deconstruction as part of the Mercantile project. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file photo)
Over the past few years, and with sustainability in mind, MRA has given preference to certain building materials. It also encourages deconstruction over demolition when possible, even if doing so costs a little more.“We’re constrained by state law on how we can spend our funds, but if you take the facade improvement program, one of the underpinnings of that is sustainability,” said MRA director Ellen Buchanan. “Our deconstruction policy is also huge. The city can’t require deconstruction, but we can.”
The demolition sorting operation at Zanker Recycling extracts concrete, sheetrock, asphalt and wood, among other debris, for recyclable markets. Photo by Veronica Weber.
The new deconstruction ordinance is expected to help the city divert 7,930 tons of waste annually (by contrast, the disposable-foodware ordinance that the council adopted at the same meeting would divert 290 tons). The deconstruction ordinance is also expected to reduce the city’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 22,300 metric tons annually (for the foodware ordinance, the number is 470 tons).
“For too long, we have not done a good job at construction sites and we need to do that,” said Phil Bobel, assistant director for Public Works Palo Alto. Bobel authored the ordinance approved by city council last Monday. “You can’t just smash it and combine everything, so then it’s harder to recycle it or salvage it.”
The Auckland region is in the midst of a major building boom. Whilst this is good news for new homebuyers, it generates a lot of waste that usually ends up being sent to landfill.
The council is working to adopt a deconstruction and soft strip approach as a standard. The deconstruction methodology sees buildings carefully taken down, bit by bit, to recover materials so that they can be re-used elsewhere. This can include building fittings and fixtures, such as seating, light fittings, kitchen and bathroom sinks, as well as important building componentry and materials such as trusses, timber, corrugated iron, and steel.
“I don’t think (the fee increase) goes far enough,” he said, adding that “there should be a law that you either move the house or use portions of it to build a new house or disassemble it board by board so it can be used.”
NYC’s VIA 57 West building was one of the first pilot projects to recycle all new construction gypsum trim scrap.
Beyond the environmental impacts, “We’re throwing away valuable resources when we’re not recycling this material,” Kaminsky says. “In landfills, when materials are layered on top of other materials in humid, anaerobic conditions, we can see hydrogen sulfide generation. Gypsum is a major contributor to hydrogen sulfide gas, which is associated with the ‘rotten egg’ smell people are familiar with.”
Examples of grant project ideas are creating a pilot reusable to-go container service program that partners with regional takeout restaurants or launching a construction and demolition building materials reuse program.
In October 2016, in an effort to reduce waste, support material reuse, and reduce environmental impacts of demolition, the City of Portland, Oregon, enacted an ordinance requiring manual deconstruction of residential homes built in 1916 or earlier. This study analyzes the material quantity data from the first 36 deconstruction projects in Portland to measure carbon and energy impacts. The carbon and energy impacts were also calculated for a hypothetical scenario in which the same houses were mechanically demolished.
The goal of this project is to calculate the carbon and energy impacts of deconstruction and demolition of
single-family houses in Portland, Oregon. The results will allow the City of Portland to measure the effectiveness of their deconstruction policy in achieving climate and energy goals.
Nat Hyman, Allentown developer and former mayoral candidate, sued the state Department of General Services in an attempt to prevent it from demolishing the Allentown State Hospital. (Kevin Mingora / The Morning Call)
Preservationists point to historic value, architectural beauty and potential repurposing in their effort to save the property from demolition. More than 5,000 people have signed an online petition to preserve the buildings.
For example, in the summer of 2012, Williams College (Williamstown, Massachusetts) deconstructed two small wood-frame buildings and, in the process, recycled 92 percent, by weight, of the total material removed from the project site. The Williams small building deconstruction resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 14 cars from the roads for a full year (66 metric tonnes).
Workers performing concrete chipping at substructure bridge repair sites had the highest level of respirable crystalline silica exposure, a time-weighted average of 527 micrograms per cubic meter of air. That is more than 10 times the PEL of 50 micrograms per cubic meter that OSHA established in its most recent silica regulation (1926.1153).
The city’s economic development agency, St. Louis Development Corp., is testing an alternative process this year that deconstructs buildings piece by piece. The more expensive process is used to salvage materials as well as reduce health risks from dust and debris. City officials said it isn’t financially feasible to use “deconstruction” to remove all of St. Louis’ 12,000 vacant properties, but they hope to expand the 30-building pilot project in the future.
Duplexes at 2075 N. Cambridge Ave. were set for deconstruction last summer. (Photo: Stephanie Morse/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Of nearly 500 city-owned houses slated for demolition, only five were deconstructed in 2018, according to the Department of Neighborhood Services. The department struggled to get reasonable bids from contractors, said Tom Mishefske, neighborhood services commissioner.
Milwaukee could pause its enforcement of a mandate requiring contractors to deconstruct, rather than demolish, historic homes after a assessment of the policy found that it struggled to get off the ground in 2018.
Here is a summary of the Fiscal Year 2019 Investment and Innovation (I&I) grants. The 14 grants represent a total Metro investment of $2,453,247, which will leverage an additional $2,383,065 in matching funds provided by the applicants. Investment and Innovation grants are intended to build lasting, private sector capacity to reduce waste through reuse, recycling, composting or energy creation from discarded materials in the Metro region. They seek to both strengthen local efforts to reduce the amount and
“The Empty Homes Tax (also known as the Vacancy Tax) was developed to help relieve pressure on Vancouver’s rental housing market, by returning empty or under-utilized properties to the long-term rental market,” the release reads. “Revenue generated by the tax is required to be used for affordable housing initiatives in Vancouver.”
To add momentum to this process, in 2016 the European Commission published a CDW Management Protocol, whose goal is to improve waste identification, source separation and collection, and waste processing. From the industry perspective, it is essential to make sure that there are no hazardous substances in material recovered from a demolition site – such as asbestos, leaded paint and polychlorinated biphenyls – that may affect health, environmental or building quality standards.
It takes more workers to pry apart a building than to operate a wrecking ball. Although that makes deconstruction more expensive, creating additional jobs is appealing in a city where 23 percent of residents live in poverty.
Debris remains where a demolished rowhouse once stood on one of many blocks slated for demolition in Baltimore. When possible, city officials want to dismantle and salvage materials from buildings rather than demolishing them.
Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press
The two Baltimore enterprises address multiple problems at once. Details Deconstruction takes apart blighted buildings and salvages or recycles materials that are still valuable — a process called deconstruction. Brick and Board processes and sells reclaimed materials, saving them from the landfill. And both hire people with criminal records and prepare them for jobs in the construction industry.
Support the reuse industry. This area needs considerable help, and it’s where state leadership is crucial. One state leading the pack is Minnesota. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has shown its support for the industry in many ways, but here are a few of their initiatives that can be replicated by your state: Hold a statewide summit for industry stakeholders; support the launch of a statewide reuse support network (ReuseMN); offer a free, online materials exchange (MN Materials Exchange); conduct a study
There are a number of city-owned properties that have to be demolished. And using the requirements of its residents preference program, firms going after the deconstruction contracts will have to meet workforce goals and train unemployed or underemployed city residents in this new trade.
Investment and Innovation grants Investment and Innovation grants support efforts to reduce waste through reusing, recycling, composting or making energy from the stuff that is discarded in greater Portland.
“It’s much more oriented toward local governments and economic development practitioners,” who are looking at the steps community leaders can take to encourage greater deconstruction, Pytel said. “Waste is typically a consequence of a bunch of other decisions. We’re going up a few levels to get at the decisions that end up creating waste, as opposed to looking at things as waste to begin with.”
Currently, certain collectors of construction and demolition debris are able to circumvent the requirement to recycle 75 percent by weight of recovered materials by processing mostly concrete and other heavy debris – leaving solid waste to accumulate on site.
Portland city council has voted to strengthen procedures for demolishing older neighborhood homes, while tabling plans to extend a deconstruction mandate for homes built after 1916. (City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability)
“Originally, the goal was to begin at 1916 in Phase I, then move to 1926 as a next step and eventually include housing built before 1940 by the year 2019.” Wood said the advisory group realized that it would be “bad timing” to increase the number of structures covered too quickly, so the 1916 date will hold firm for the foreseeable future, as demolition procedures are tightened.
Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s hammer some bricks!
It is a genuinely comforting thought, that when you look at a brick building any one of those bricks can originate from many different places. Apart from the green-tech-recycling aspect, this makes buildings ooze of history — even if they are brand new.
The grant program was instituted by state legislation to help rural communities with populations of 5,000 or less to deconstruct or renovate abandoned commercial and public structures.
The program emphasizes reuse and recycling of building items, helps improve street appearance and commercial development, and alleviates the environmental concern these buildings can pose. Financial assistance includes asbestos removal, building deconstruction and renovation, and other environmental services.
(Image courtesy of the Delta Institute via Extracting Value through Deconstruction)
On Jan. 1, the country’s second deconstruction ordinance went into effect in Milwaukee. In short, the ordinance “provides deconstruction requirements for the removal of Milwaukee’s older and more historic primary dwelling structures.” Deconstruction, in contrast to demolition, is the process of systematically dismantling a structure in an environmentally, socially and economically responsible manner, aiming to maximize the recovery of materials for reuse and recycling. The ordinance targets primary-dwelling structures built in 1929 or earlier. This reason for this specification? The likelihood that those structures will contain old-growth lumber and other valuable building materials.
The shed is among five buildings that comprise the last traditional smoked-herring facility in the U.S., and an organization called Lubec Landmarks has worked for almost 25 years to preserve it. Lubec Landmarks President Rachel Rubeor said legal tangles, including salvage rights claims by some Canadian citizens, could doom the building.
Founder of Community Forklift & Executive Manager of the Alliance for Regional Cooperation, Jim Schulman discusses his work on the Building Materials Reuse Association. His work in cooperation with the DC Sierra Club and others are pushing building code changes to help rescue building materials from the waste stream.
New African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Will Help to Preserve Overlooked Historic Places, Bring Preservation Funding to Underrepresented Communities and Uncover the Untold Stories of Communities of Color
In addition to helping support direct action needed to protect threatened sites of historic significance and addressing critical funding gaps for their preservation, the fund will also help to uncover hidden stories of African-Americans connected to historic sites across the nation, empower youth through National Trust’s Hands On Preservation Experience program, support research on preservation’s impact on contemporary urban problems that disproportionately affect communities of color, and advocate for preservation funding for underrepresented communities.
The Divine Lorraine Hotel, a 19th-century North Philadelphia building that had fallen into disrepair, has been rehabilitated into apartments and retail and restaurant space. Credit Mark Makela for The New York Times
In Philadelphia, losing the tax credit could have a devastating effect on efforts to defend the historic building stock, said Harris Steinberg, executive director of Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation and chairman of the new preservation task force. “It very well could lead to more demolition of unprotected historic fabric,” he said.