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Pittsburgh pursues sustainable deconstruction policy

April 27, 2021

Pittsburgh’s action to preserve materials from failing buildings follows a similar move by leaders in Portland, Oregon, almost five years ago, who said they were the first city in the U.S. to require such a deconstruction policy.

Portland’s ordinance started out by applying to homes built in 1916 or earlier, but the city moved to widen the program’s scope by pushing in 2019 for the ordinance to cover homes built in 1940 or earlier. An evaluation published in 2019 of the carbon and energy impacts from a sample of deconstructed homes in Portland found 27% of materials were salvaged. Deconstruction had a net carbon dioxide equivalent benefit of 7.6 metric tons per house compared to demolition, due to the decreased need for production of new materials and carbon sequestration in reused wood.

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