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.
(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.
This Eastmoreland house was torn down last fall to make way for new construction. Mike Francis | The Oregonian/OregonLive
Already, though, some say the new rule isn’t enough. A group called United Neighborhoods for Reform wants the City Council to require deconstruction for all homes built before 1978 — when the government banned lead paint in consumer uses.
“When a house is demolished through mechanical demolition, lead is pulverized and sent up into the air and falls into neighbors’ yards as dust,” said Barbara Kerr, the group’s representative on the city’s Deconstruction Advisory Group. “If it’s deconstructed, it poses little danger.”