“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.”
MICHAEL PRONZATO / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Though still months away from being heard — or even enacted — Squilla’s bills mark significant progress for Philadelphia, which, despite having the second-most number of buildings constructed before 1945 in the U.S., has struggled to encourage developers to restore old and interesting buildings.
“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.”
Photo credits: Jenny Marvin
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.
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.
“Heritage is one of our main economic drivers in the city. The deconstruction policy — if we had one — would address salvaging any materials in the case where demolition is absolutely necessary.”
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.
City owned home at 2817-19 North 22nd Street. Photo from the City of Milwaukee.
The ordinance will kick in whenever the city is set to demolish a structure or a private contractor seeks a permit to demolish. And there are exceptions to the mandate to deconstruct if there are safety considerations or the salvageable materials have been damaged by something like a fire. While Bauman and Kovac are both historic preservation hawks in Milwaukee, because demolition and deconstruction jobs employ individuals from underserved communities in the city Bauman said “I do see this primarily as a job creation tool.”
“If we can save that amount of space in the landfills, that means that we’re not generating emissions from the decaying of those materials,” said expo organizer and re-use consultant, Sara Badiali. “The environmental impact is astounding.”
(Photo: Nina Mehlhaf)
That rule means a lot more certified deconstruction experts are needed. Tuesday, the city let us into a hands-on workshop at a home on Northwest 23rd Avenue, where 15 men and women were learning the trade.
Devon Campbell-Willliams is one of those trainees. He worked as a construction flagger before, and wanted to learn deconstruction technique hands on.
“You don’t want to go to straight in and straight up to pry up floorboards, if you do that you could crack the wood and it wouldn’t be reusable,” he said.
Deconstruction of an 1884 House in Portland. | Credit: Scott A. Tice
It is important to note, too, that Portland city leaders also considered deconstruction as a job engine. Although rehabilitation of an older building—one that is neither demolished nor deconstructed—is likely to generate more jobs than deconstruction, supporters of the ordinance noted that deconstruction will provide six to eight jobs for every one job associated with traditional mechanized demolition. Furthermore, although it doesn’t compare to the reuse of an entire building, deconstruction will provide carbon-reduction benefits by preserving the embodied energy of at least some existing building materials and by cutting the greenhouse gasses associated with sending waste to landfills.
This is expected to divert about 8 million pounds of material from landfills per year and affect about 30% of homes that would be demolished. A study from the Northwest Economic Research Center estimates the policy could create 30-50 jobs and up to $1.5 million in local economic activity.
Langfelder’s nearly year-old administration is in the early stages of drafting an “adaptive reuse” ordinance that may result in code modifications to remove some of the impediments developers encounter when they try to breathe new life into old buildings.
One is that we must establish controlled and precise processes for the sorting of waste to avoid contaminating materials and rendering them unsalvageable. The study also highlights that we need to make deconstruction audits for buildings over 1,000 square metres mandatory, not just best practice. These should be produced prior to a building’s deconstruction, providing a detailed inventory of its materials to aid their recovery and re-use at the end of the building’s lifecycle.
Funding that the city has lent through its reuse program includes $750,000 to TM Montante Development for Planing Mill project. Derek Gee/News file photo
The new fund, part of the Buffalo Building Reuse Project, is designed to speed up redevelopment in the city’s downtown core, with a specific focus on residential and mixed-use projects that will put empty and derelict properties back to active use.
The city has already had some public-sector dollars available to lend through the reuse program, such as the $750,000 that it provided to TM Montante Development last year for its Planing Mill conversion on Elm Street. The addition of the banks’ money will allow the city to support nearly three times as many projects per year in downtown Buffalo than was previously available.
WASHINGTON—Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) introduced the Zero Waste Development and Expansion Act (H.R. 3237) today, which will support communities striving towards zero waste by establishing a grant program that funds the infrastructure, technology, and community outreach needed to achieve it.
“Preventing waste and diverting it from our landfills means a healthier environment and a more sustainable economy,” Rep. Ellison said. “Zero Waste is about preventing waste at the source and reusing the rest. It’s also about creating local jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and using our limited resources wisely.”
The program looks to ensure more demolition materials are reused. WENDY CULVERWELL
The awards would give $2,500 to those fully removing houses or duplexes within Portland. The money would only back those projects that employ deconstruction and reuse.
Stained glass windows salvaged by WasteCap Resource Solutions. Photo by Amanda Mickevicius.
WasteCap receives a “Raz-List” from the City of Milwaukee. This list includes foreclosed homes and buildings that will be torn down one way or the other. Some are eligible for deconstruction, meaning they torn down by hand by workers, rather than razed by machines. Ogden says the price tag on razing a house is $15,000 charged to the city, so deconstruction saves money for taxpayers. WasteCap also pays the city for materials salvaged from tear-downs.
PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID ASHTON: – Demolition of this Eastmoreland house was halted in June 2014 after asbetos was discovered in it. Most of the rest of it was later taken down by hand, a process called deconstruction.
Mayor Charlie Hales and the other council members indicated they want to make deconstruction mandatory and prohibit mechanical demolition once the marketplace can support the influx of salvaged materials.
“The community has shown a strong shared interest in moving in this direction, and the council share that urgency,” Hales said before voting in support of the resolution he introduced.
Destruction driven by the 20% VAT penalty on property refurbishment? Demolition of Wychwood House on the Woodberry Down Estate, London in June 2007. Photo: Sarflondondunc via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
When I’m not teaching students, I help run a sustainable architecture firm and entirely by accident, we find ourselves in the business of destroying perfectly good houses and sending them off to landfill, all in the name of sustainable design.
The city is giving a new organization a chance to scour structures ready to be razed to see if worthwhile materials can be salvaged. Those materials can be re-purposed or recycled instead of taking up space in a landfill.
“We’re offering a solution to a problem as we see it,” said Thomas Wester, who leads the nascent Peoria Architectural Salvage Co.
Wester’s group and the city are undertaking this one-year, limited program. For two years, the city has been searching for a partner.
A city agreement with Peoria Architectural Salvage could be finalized next week, Wester said. The City Council approved the plan last month. No municipal money is involved.
The home at 3407 West 35th St., Vancouver, before demolition… All photos by Caroline Adderson
The city hopes to prevent demolition by offering incentives to keep a house, if it’s deemed to have heritage value. Builders already have the option of adding a laneway house or basement suite, for example. If the owner insists on demolition, they are now required to recycle or reuse 90 per cent of the material, a pain for developers because it slows the job down and costs more, especially since most aren’t familiar with the process. Even if a pre-1940 house isn’t deemed of particular heritage value, developers are still required to divert 75 per cent of the waste from landfills.
Many of the problems that have prevented waste reduction in the C&D sector have little to do with the reuse or recyclability of the material being thrown away. In fact, StatsCan released a report in 2008 which noted that 75% of material sent to landfill still had valuable life left in it.
Craig Moore of the Ontario Association of Demolition Contractors OADC says for their part, materials sent to landfill are missed opportunities to cash in since jobs are bid with scrap in mind and both contractors and owners are well aware of the value of metals and other high demand materials.
Now, an initiative led by Minneapolis City Council members Andrew Johnson and Linea Palmisano is addressing housing demolition waste and drafting a deconstruction policy due next spring.
The plan specifically cites Wards 13 and 3 as high demolition areas in 2013, the latter of which encompasses parts of the University area.
“Our combined initiatives to preserve and reuse our historic industrial sites reflect our growing understanding that Connecticut’s identity is encompassed in its industrial past not just its iconic town green,” said Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation Executive Director Helen Higgins. “Creative and feasible re-use of industrial buildings will transform our state and infuse economic vitality in our towns and cities.”
Action 11 – Reuse and Repair Network
The Department of the Environment will work with partners to develop a re-use and repair network throughout Northern Ireland, supporting re-use and preparing for re-use infrastructure.
An EU-funded research project has laid the foundations for change – it is promoting concrete, ceramics, gypsum and plastics recycling around Europe.
Recycling and re-using parts from old buildings makes sense – it creates less waste, makes construction cheaper and reduces the use of raw resources (more than 50% of all materials extracted from the earth are currently transformed into construction materials and products).
New regulations could soon restrict the demolition of older Vancouver homes and require at least 75 per cent of the waste material be recycled or reused. (CBC)
The City of Vancouver could soon ban the demolition of homes built before 1940, and require anyone planning to knock one down to deconstruct it piece by piece and sort the materials for recycling.The proposal follows increasing concerns about the demolition of heritage and character homes in Vancouver.
On average three homes are demolished in Vancouver everyday, of which 40 per cent are pre-1940s homes that give many neighbourhoods their character.The proposed regulation would require recycling or reuse of 75 per cent of the waste from a pre-1940s home and 90 per cent of the waste from one which has been identified as a character home.
“A lot of these buildings don’t make the cut because they are just so old and so dilapidated that the numbers don’t work without this revolving loan fund that we’ve put together. It’s a perfect example of a public-private partnership,” Cohen said Friday.
The Buffalo Building Reuse Project provides gap financing of up to $750,000.
The city also reserved $100,000 in the 2013-2014 fiscal year to offer incentives to new owners. They can earn up to $4,500 for rebuilding structures built before 2000 that are no more than 25,000 square feet.
Projects have taken off as a result, Lanning said.
“It’s grown so much because people really love funky old buildings,” Lanning said.
In the project’s first year, nine city buildings were transformed into new businesses. In 2013, there were 48.
Among these was a 53,000-square-foot uptown motorcycle garage and dealership converted to a complex of restaurants.
Projects like these aren’t easy and can cost a lot of money, but they are worth it, Lanning said. Adaptive reuse encourages community involvement and keeps people civically engaged, she added.
“People feel connected to that place more than boring buildings that look the same,” Lanning said.
But now the movement is being challenged. In February, US Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, who leads the House Ways and Means Committee, released a discussion draft of comprehensive tax reform that included a repeal of the federal historic tax credit, which preservationists say is crucial to continued development. Without the federal tax break and a similar one from the state, says David Listokin, a Rutgers professor of public policy, older buildings in mill towns like Lowell and Lawrence and in lower-income parts of Greater Boston like Everett and Chelsea would languish, just when these areas are beginning a turnaround led in large part by adaptive reuse. Condo and commercial construction in old warehouses — witness the Charleston Chew Lofts and Porter 156 — brings to struggling neighborhoods higher-income buyers, who then attract more small businesses and municipal improvements.
Deconstruction is Policy Already Written
by Sara Badiali
Reclaiming materials affects the economy by creating jobs, job training, and markets for materials. It cuts down on the need for harvesting new materials like timber, and removes the need for landfill space. Reclaiming materials reduces co2 emissions. The benefits are often called a triple bottom line economy by creating jobs, markets, and sustainable environmental practices.
Municipalities across the country are working on creating and implementing policy addressing the practice of recycling buildings. Creating ordinances that can be implemented and enforced are prompting a wave of interest in emulating European laws that have been in place for years.
One way of creating effective change is to have policies implemented by government agencies first. Mandating that all government buildings be deconstructed for salvage is an effective strategy for long term adoption from the public. If our tax money goes into creating these buildings, then it should also go back into the local economy when the building has expired.
The arduous task of navigating government bureaucracy to create a new policy adopting deconstruction for municipal buildings, has impeded progress in this arena in even the most progressive governments. However, all governments already have existing policy and just don’t realize it.
Photo: Flickr (taberandrew) Many Indiana cities are facing urban blight due to home foreclosures.
Merritt says Indiana lawmakers are also seeking permission from the federal government to use upwards of $100 million for communities to tear down abandoned properties.
Miles Timmis (below) throws metal salvaged during ‘deconstruction’ of a South Surrey home into a bin Thursday.— Image Credit: Tracy Holmes Photos
“There’s just too much stuff going to the landfill,” he said.
He noted benefits to developers who choose the environmentally friendlier route are catching on.
In Vancouver, there is no delay in getting permits if there is a plan for deconstruction – a time savings Timmis said can amount to six weeks. The City of Surrey is working on implementing a similar program, he said.
Members of the Preservation and Conservation Association had complained the group was no longer being allowed to salvage architectural items before buildings were torn down. They say the group had routine access to such buildings for decades, but that it ended when a key university employee retired in 2010.
Interesting and informative article on C&D landfill regulations (or lack-thereof).
With little direction from the federal government, each state regulates construction and demolition debris fills a little differently.
Alaska, unlike some in the Lower 48, requires no liners or test wells of fill operators. Central Recycling Services, the company proposing debris fills for Chugiak and Palmer, doesn’t plan to line them but does plan to do wells.
Construction and demolition debris fills here fall under the category of “inert monofill” — what regulators consider a uniform kind of waste with “a low potential” to pollute air or water.
One Nail at a Time: Building Deconstruction Law as a Tool to Demolish Abandoned Housing Problems
Spurred to act by 2003 survey estimates showing 7,913 abandoned properties in Indianapolis, city leaders proclaimed “war” on abandoned houses within the city and metropolitan area. But long since this 2003 declaration, the war in Indianapolis rages on today.
Unfortunately, Indianapolis is not alone. In many other Rust Belt cities, local leaders have long struggled to rid city blocks of abandoned houses that plague housing stocks by the thousands. While the wars in these cities have not yet been lost, the enemy seems to be winning on many fronts—in extreme cases, some Midwest cities even contemplate mass demolition, in order to literally “shrink” in size as critical volumes of abandoned homes drain city resources.
In most cases, just the initial step of quantifying the scope of a city’s abandonment problem remains guesswork because cities like Indianapolis have no real-time way to even count abandoned houses. Unfortunately for cities, the statistic is extremely difficult to discover or track because it is constantly in flux and hard to define or characterize. Though statistics are elusive, the effects of abandoned housing are well documented, and it is now known that abandonment renders much more than sporadic eyesores in the form of an empty structure: abandonment increases municipal costs of services and maintenance, aggravates neighborhood decay, decreases property values, increases crime, and creates hazards to health and safety.
So how can cities most efficiently remove existing levels of abandoned houses while deterring abandonment in the future? This article argues that if state and local governments coordinate legal and economic incentives for property owners to “recycle” obsolete or deteriorating houses, abandoned structures are less likely to persist, or become abandoned in the first place. Thus, the article provides an example of a potential legal framework for creating incentives to use an existing, but under-utilized, demolition industry practice to facilitate such a policy: building deconstruction. While never applied to real estate law, these proposed incentives resemble many laws already in place to manage consumer waste generation for products such as aluminum and plastic beverage containers—i.e. “Bottle Bills.”
At heart, time has shown that local government is limited in its capacity to efficiently handle the task, or cost, of managing thousands of properties being thrust upon local streets, the brunt of which is ultimately borne by the local taxpayers. In the end, if abandoned housing spirals out of control beyond a critical mass of properties, it becomes unsustainable. Traditional strategies targeting the problem—code enforcement, tax foreclosure, land banks, and receivership—are mostly reactive by definition because of statutory and constitutional constraints, and are usually only implicated after a local law has been violated.
Thus, a preemptive legal framework is needed that not only avoids state and federal legal issues, but turns the problem itself into an opportunity. A policy approach incentivizing deconstruction accomplishes this goal: it utilizes a powerful demolition technique to cure abandonment, but also, through the nature of the technique, provides social benefits to the local community along the way.