Portland is the first city in the country to ban the demolition of its oldest homes.
The city will require that homes built in 1916 or before are deconstructed, so the materials inside can be salvaged.
The city council passed a resolution in favor of the demolition ban this winter. They’re set to review changes to the city code next Wednesday, with a vote likely following in early July.
About 20 percent of the waste in landfills comes from building construction and demolition, according to the mayor’s office.
“This will allow residents to acquire quality used building materials such as old growth lumber and some of the pieces of Portland history that otherwise would have been discarded into the landfill,” said Zach Klonoski, a sustainability advisor to the mayor.
In addition, he said deconstruction can help reduce air pollution and the release of toxics like asbestos and lead, and help the city meet its carbon reduction goals. Taking a house apart and reusing some of the materials saves about the same amount of carbon as taking two cars off the road.
Last year developers demolished about 200 Portland homes. Klonoski estimates that about a third of the homes in Portland slated for demolition are 100 years or older and will be protected by the new deconstruction rules.
The deconstruction policy is set to begin October 31. In the future, the council could consider expanding the requirement to a larger percentage of the city’s homes.