Construction or Destruction?

Published on August 6, 2018 by Brenda Forton


Across the nation, cities are opting to deconstruct its centuries-old buildings and homes. The idea is to reduce and reuse the tons of building materials that would otherwise end up in area landfills.

There are companies whose sole purpose is entering old structures and salvaging anything that can be reused wherever possible for other building projects, including new construction. Consumers are paying top-dollar for salvaged materials to use in home renovations or upscaled refurbishing projects.

Most states have non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore that accept donations of unused or unwanted building materials as well as furniture and appliances.  They often sell these items to the public or offer them to community members in need.

Other cities have turned to deconstruction to address urban deterioration and create additional jobs. Many cities including Baltimore, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Portland have either created their own programs or are exploring their options.

Officials from Detroit to the San Francisco Bay Area have been calling cities that have promoted deconstruction and asking for advice. “I’ve never seen so much attention going toward deconstruction and reuse as I’ve seen building up in the past year,” said Joe Connell, executive director of the Building Materials Reuse Association, a Great Cranberry Island, Maine-based nonprofit that promotes reuse and recycling of construction waste. (

Whether it’s new construction or remodeling, it might be worth your while to check with your State and local building departments to see if they offer incentives for deconstructing old buildings. It could potentially become a profitable resource for various building materials, and save a little piece of history and the environment in the process.