Merkley: Green Collar Jobs Boost Economy and Preserve Environment

Portland – Window by window, door by door, bathtub by bathtub, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley learned how DeConstruction Services is assembling the green collar economy.

Merkley toured the ReBuilding Center’s DeConstruction Services project at NE 120th Ave. and Burnside in Portland today to learn more about how their hand-dismantling of homes and other property creates jobs and protects the environment.  The center is dismantling five homes at the location.

Deconstruction is exactly the kind of win-win initiative that benefits our economy and our environment,” Merkley said.  Green collar jobs are key to sparking economic growth and preserving our natural resources.  Throughout my state legislative career and in the U.S. Senate, I’ve focused on creating jobs and protecting the environment.  Through this common sense concept, this project accomplishes both goals.

DeConstruction Services is a project of The ReBuilding Center, a Portland based non-profit that collects and sells the largest volume of salvaged construction and remodeling materials of any non-profit in North America, according to the center.

Our work mirrors Senator Merkley’s goals, said Scott Endicott, founder of The ReBuilding Center. Kickstart the green jobs economy and promote sustainability.”

Through hand-dismantling, DeConstruction Services can save for reuse up to 85 percent of a building’s major components including doors, flooring and bathtubs. Material that otherwise would end up in landfills is then used for construction and other projects.

By vastly reducing what is sent to the landfill, there are fewer decomposing, methane releasing materials in the landfill. Reusing construction quality wood, rather than chopping and burning it up, also reduces pollution.

The pioneering program draws observers from as far away as China, Italy and France to learn firsthand how deconstruction creates green jobs and reduces pollution.

The group started disassembling the five homes on the 1.28 acre site at NE 120th Ave. and Burnside on March 10th. It will complete the project by early April.

Just from these five homes, they expect to:

Keep 27,500 cubic feet of reusable building materials out of the landfill. Provide 2,495 hours of work at a living wage. Preserve more of the environment. The environmental savings of the deconstruction area is the equivalent of preserving 91 mature trees left in the forest, taking 7.9 cars off the road in the reduction of greenhouse gas, and saving 6,600 gallons of clean drinking water. Savings is due to fewer trees used for construction, less methane emitting materials sitting in a landfill, and much less water used for cleanup than during a standard demolition.

According to the center, their work keeps an average of 8 tons of reusable building materials a day out of the landfill – almost 6 million pounds a year.

According to the center, 6 million pounds a year translates into:

Preventing pollution by reducing greenhouse gas production by 125,000 pounds. That is the equivalent of taking 715 cars off the road for a year, or saving enough gas to drive around the earth 430 times. This reduces pollution because as the materials sit in a landfill and decompose it creates methane gas. Very little sits in a landfill, so very little pollution. Reusing the wood as is, rather than chopping it up and burning it, also eliminates pollution. Preserving resources (sinks, flooring, cabinets, doors, windows, tile & more) which if laid out end to end, would circle the base of Mt. Hood three-and-a-half times per year. Saving 4 million pounds of reusable wood, which is equal to 1,304 acres of planted pine each year.

DeConstruction Services is a project of the non-profit ReBuilding Center. The ReBuilding Center is a program under Our United Villages.

Specialized Housing, Inc. owns the property being disassembled. It will turn the lots into affordable housing units to serve low and very low income individuals and families, people with disabilities, and hard to serve homeless families with disabilities.