Material reuse ordinance

Description: In Portland, OR, more than 250 to 300 single-family homes are demolished each year. This produces thousands of tons of waste — a majority of which could be salvaged for reuse. From start to finish, deconstruction protects health, creates pathways to construction careers and generates affordable reusable building materials. Prior to 2016, less than 10 percent of houses that were removed were deconstructed.

On July 6, 2016, the Portland City Council adopted an ordinance, including code language, which requires projects seeking a demolition permit of a house or duplex to fully deconstruct that structure if it was built in 1916 or earlier or is a designated historic resource. With Council’s unanimous approval of that ordinance, Portland became the first city in the country to ensure that valuable materials from demolished houses and duplexes are salvaged for reuse instead of crushed and landfilled. The ordinance became effective on Oct. 31, 2016.

Based on the successful results of the Portland program (over 2 million pounds of materials salvaged for reuse during the first 2-1/2 years), in 2019 the “year-built threshold” was increased from 1916 to 1940, effective January 20, 2020. This will result in approximately 66% of house demolition permits being subject to requirements of deconstruction rather than demolition.

In July of 2020 a similar deconstruction ordinance became effective in Palo Alto, CA. Other cities that have deconstruction ordinances include Milwaukee, WI (effective January 1, 2018) and San Jose, CA. Pittsburgh, PA and San Antonio, TX are also pursuing deconstruction initiatives.

Goal: Material Reuse Ordinance
• Divert 8 million pounds (4,000 tons) of materials for reuse (annually).
• Create job opportunities that act as a pathway for construction careers.
• Increase the likelihood of discovering materials containing lead and asbestos for safe removal and disposal.

Measurement: Tons of materials salvaged for reuse

Time to Implement:
Portland’s Deconstruction Resolution – Adopted February 17, 2016
Portland’s Deconstruction Ordinance – Adopted in July 2016
Portland’s Deconstruction Ordinance became Effective – October 31, 2016


Portland (OR) Building Deconstruction Requirements

2019 amendment to ordinance expands Portland’s deconstruction requirements

Palo Alto (CA) Deconstruction and Construction Materials Management

Milwaukee (WI) Deconstruction Ordinance

Additional Information:

Contact Info:

Shawn Wood
City of Portland
(503) 823-5468

Sectors(s) Materials, Waste
State(s) , ,
Location(s) , ,
Date First Adopted July 2016
Last Updated November 5, 2021
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