Successes of a sister city: Deconstruction around the world

Rose Red Solarium Seattle

Starting in the early 1990’s, building deconstruction saw a rise in popularity. Lauded for its environmental benefits, people and governments around the world began to advocate for smarter uses of unwanted building materials. Many local governments have seen huge successes after passing by-laws and ordinances that require deconstruction rather than demolition. With the adoption of these practices, organizations have popped up around the world to assist with deconstruction needs. Here are some of their successes.

Deconstruction bylaws

King County – The King County Green Building Ordinance was adopted by Council on December 19, 20013. As part of the orginance, readily recyclable materials from construction and demolition projects are required to be recycled. In fact, clean wood, cardboard, gypsum, metal, and asphalt is banned from landfill disposal. Mixed construction and demolition materials must be sent to a material recovery facility in order to reclaim materials. You can find a list of salvage contractors on the King County Solid Waste program website.

Portland, OR – In July 2016, Portland City Council adopted an ordinance that requires deconstruction of houses or duplexes built in before 1916. With the ordinance, Portland became the first city in the US to ensure that building materials are reused. This is significant, because more than 300 single-family homes are demolished each year. Portland has found that deconstruction protects the health of communities, creates pathways to construction careers and generates affordable reusable building materials. And most importantly, deconstruction in Portland divert 8 million pounds of materials each year.

City of Vancouver, BC – Vancouver, BC, instituted a Green Demolition Bylaw in September 2014. The bylaw requires that houses built before 1940 have 75% of demolition waste recycled at a minimum. Character houses from the same era are required to see a 90% recycling rate. This bylaw helps Vancouver work towards their goal to reduce solid landfill waste by 50% by 2020, and ensures that irreplaceable and historic materials can be honored and reused.

Deconstruction professionals

The RE StoreOur salvage crew was formed in the early 90’s under the leadership of Dave Bennink of RE-USE Consulting. We were awarded the bid for deconstructing Seattle’s schools in the early late 90’s and early 00’s. Since then, we have specialized in small and medium deconstruction in the Whatcom County area. We’re proud to have seen staff leave our crew to start salvage and deconstruction businesses of their own around the country.

RE-USE Consulting– Since 1993, RE-USE Consulting has been changing the way we look at soon-to-be removed buildings. An international consulting firm, RE-USE Consulting has travelled the world, helping to create architectural reuse and deconstruction organizations around the world. They use advanced techniques that result in building owners paying less for decon than demolition. Their team can completely dismantle a 2,000 sqare foot home in as little as 3 days and they are able to salvage and reuse a minimum of 85% of materials from each job.

Unbuilders – Many cities around the world play home to firms or organizations that specialize in deconstruction. One of these organizations is Unbuilders. Located in Vancouver, BC, Unbuilders is a team of skilled carpenters that disassembles homes layer by layer. They separate materials on site. They are proud to achieve the City of Vancouver’s highest recorded salvage and recycling rate, a whopping 97%. They estimate that an average 2,400 square foot home will yield a tax credit of over $25,000.

Decon diaries: the series

Deconstruction is more than by-laws and ordinances.This is the part of a multi-post series that will dive into the interesting world of deconstruction. We invite you to follow along. As we add more to this series, click here to see the whole series to learn about successes, tools used, the permitting process and more.