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EPA Funds Projects to Find Cost-effective Ways to Dismantle City’s Condemned Properties - Tearing Down the House and Reusing Building Materials

Release Date: 11/16/2004
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it will fund two innovative projects in Philadelphia to find cost-effective ways for dismantling structurally unsound row homes and reusing building materials.

A $74,000 EPA grant will promote environmental protection through community revitalization by funding an evaluation of an innovative approach to building deconstruction-- where row houses are dismantled and sections are transferred off-site for further deconstruction. It is expected that using this new mechanized and panelized approach to deconstruction will allow for the most efficient reuse of roof and floor structural lumber, enable quicker access to properties by redevelopers, and reduce exposure to safety hazards.

In addition to the EPA, which will monitor the progress of the pilot, the partners in this project include the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Penn State’s Hamer Center for Community Design Assistance, which will plan and implement the project; and the City of Philadelphia, through its Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI) which will employ these innovative approaches in their deconstruction project addressing urban blight.

Nationwide, an estimated 300,000 buildings are demolished each year. They produce 65 million tons of waste, and only 20 to 30 percent of these building materials are reused or recycled. Many of these houses contain wood framing, flooring, wood doors, and other valuable materials that can be reused.

All aspects of the project will be tracked, including labor, machinery, transportation for workers, disposal, and salvage. The final evaluation will include an assessment of the pilot findings, outreach efforts, and methods to encourage use of recommended practices by demolition companies.

EPA Grants - 11/16/04...P2
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If the pilot can demonstrate that these new techniques are cost-effective, there are opportunities for wide-scale implementation through the partnership with the City’s NTI program to incorporate innovative deconstruction practices in the demolition of 10,000 condemned properties throughout the city.

When the study is complete, the findings will be presented to interested stakeholders, such as the Delaware Valley Green Building Council and the American Institute of Architects Philadelphia Chapter Committee on the Environment, whose members have already expressed interest in using recovered building materials from the NTI buildings.

This grant is one of seven in the nation funded by EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response to test innovative ideas for environmental and public health protection.
EPA also announced a grant of $86,027 to Mid-Atlantic Consortium of Recycling and Economic Development Officials (MACREDO) for the Unbuild/Rebuild Philadelphia Project.

MACREDO: an organization of recycling and economic development interests of the states of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Mission is to identify, promote and implement projects and programs that enhance recycling and economic development opportunities on a regional basis.

The Unbuild/Rebuild Philadelphia Project will develop tools and provide technical assistance to increase the recovery, reuse, re-manufacture and recycling of building materials resulting from the demolition of thousands of buildings by the City of Philadelphia.

This grant will prepare the network to divert construction waste from the city’s Neighborhood Transformation initiative being planned for the next three to five years by setting up extensive networking capacity.

MACREDO will develop an internet site that can be used as a regional building material exchange, an information sharing resource, and a critical tool for documentation, essential communication, and dissemination functions for the project.

The project will characterize building stock material to accurately predict recoverable materials by type, and quantity. MACREDO will conduct three workshops and provide documentation on the specifications and policy recommendations to the City of Philadelphia for NTI

To learn more about these special projects check out EPA’s website: