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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.The City Council unanimously approved a pilot program to encourage the deconstruction of houses targeted for redevelopment Wednesday.


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.

The resolution directs the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to create a program to train and encourage developers to deconstruct homes targeted for redevelopment, a process that allows more materials to be salvage for reuse than demolition by heavy equipment. The council amended the resolution to require BPS to report on the progress of the program in January 2016 instead of September 2016, as originally proposed.

"There's a strong commitment on the part of the council to move faster," Hales said.

The resolution was supported by the Home Builders Association of Metro Portland. Activists with the grassroots United Neighborhoods for Reform urged the council to make the timeline shorter than had been proposed, to strengthen support of voluntary deconstruction, and to set a goal of making deconstruction the way Portland demolishes houses by fall of 2016.

Experts say that when a house is deconstructed by hand, 50 to 75 percent of it can be recovered. Much of that material can be reused, include lumber for building more houses. In comparison, only 30 to 50 percent of a house can be recovered when it is demolished. And much of that lumber can only be burned for fuel because it is so damaged.

In addition, deconstructing a house reduces the amount of hazardous material released into the air, such as asbestos and lead-based paint chips.

But deconstruction can cost $5,000 to $7,000 more than demolition. And it can take more than a week instead of just one or two days.

The pilot program is expected to start with deconstruction training classes this fall. It will also include grants funded by $50,000 from the Solid Waste Management Fund Reserves maintained by BPS.

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