Deconstruction (Photo courtesy City of Portland).

Portland Could Soon Require Deconstruction


“It makes no sense for us to recycle newsprint and bottles and aluminum cans while we’re throwing away entire buildings or even entire neighborhoods,” – Richard Moe, past president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Portland Mercury recently published an article about the steps Portland is taking to require homes that are 100 years or older to be deconstructed rather than demolished.

Restore Oregon, the only historic preservation non-profit asked to serve on the Deconstruction Advisory Group, is very pleased to have been involved in the efforts to require deconstruction rather than demolition. While we do not believe deconstruction will solve the demolition crisis, it is one more tool to disincentivize the removal of historic homes.

After the spike in demolitions in 2013, Restore Oregon created the info-graphic to the right, illustrating the amount of materials from demolished buildings that is re-used (any activity that lengthens the life of an item) rather than recycled (reprocessing of an item into a new raw material). Reuse preserves the embodied energy of an item, generally requires less energy and creates less air and water pollution than reprocessing old materials into new materials. Reuse also creates more jobs in the local community.

In 2013, of the 389 buildings demolished only 8 buildings worth of materials were re-used.

During his tenure at Restore Oregon, Jordan Jordan, who is quoted in the Portland Mercury article and now works for the nonprofit Earth Advantage, wrote this piece on deconstruction as part of our Neighborhood Preservation series. It gives some insight into how this legislation was conceived and what other cities have programs promoting deconstruction over demolition.


Read the Portland Mercury article:

Portland’s Going To Require Some Home Deconstruction—But No One Can Say Precisely What That Means


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2 Responses to Portland Could Soon Require Deconstruction

  1. Jerry Grulkey, The Old House Savers March 1, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

    Bully for Portland.

    I deconstructed my first old house in 1957 in Richmond, California, when I was 8 years old. They were destroying my neighborhood to build a Wards store and a foursquare farm house was to be wreaked and was abandoned. I was struck by the fact that here were perfectly good materials for free…with this I built the best fort! What I did was watch workers build houses and I copied then and built that way. I also watched them jack up the houses using beat up old beams and jacks and move and move them on dollies to another site. This prompted me to be an “Old House Preservationist” as a profession buying and restoring historic places. I too jacked up houses using old jacks found at flea markets…19 places so far and may do one we bought soon.

    I wonder what inspiration can spark young eyes to dream as I did instead of a big bull dozer chomping it up and hauling it to the dump. Besides many of these places were made out of the old growth trees.

  2. Tommy smith March 1, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

    Well that’s only abou 50 yrs too late for south west and south east….. Better late than…….

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