PITTSBURGH, PA (April 20, 2021) Today, Mayor William Peduto issued an Executive Order to create a unified, City-led deconstruction policy designed to remediate blight in city neighborhoods while diverting building materials from landfills, advancing climate action goals, promoting equity, and creating job training opportunities.
The policy aims to reduce blight in neighborhoods by deconstructing city-owned properties that are condemned but not yet slated for demolition. Deconstruction is the process of disassembling an entire building or parts of it rather than demolishing it. The goal is to recover, reuse, and recycle building materials like bricks, lumber, shingles, and tile that otherwise would have be sent to landfill, while safely disposing of hazardous materials.
“Data shows that living in proximity to blight can cause serious health issues for neighbors, and we also know that too many salvageable building materials languish in a landfill, which only harms our planet,” said Mayor Peduto. “Deconstruction will allow us to better remove blight from our neighborhoods, preserve assets from historic buildings, divert reusable materials from our over-burdened landfill, improve air quality, and create a pipeline for family-sustaining jobs.”
The Executive Order calls for the City to create a process for identifying deconstruction-eligible structures that includes taking account of neighbor and community concern about the property, focusing on structures in historically Black business districts and low-income communities, and conducting a sustainability deconstruction assessment. The policy will pilot deconstruction on city-owned properties and city facilities, but will also create standards for recovery and recycling of materials for city-funded demolitions.
“Deconstruction represents yet another action that city government has taken to advance equity, achieve our climate goals, improve quality of life for our neighbors, and create well-paying jobs in the process,” said the City’s Chief Equity Officer Majestic Lane. “This policy will set a standard for other cities to follow.”
Additional directives for city departments in the Executive Order include the creation of robust community engagement plans to ensure neighbors understand the process and public benefits of deconstruction. It also calls for the convening of a Deconstruction Action Council comprised of members from various city departments, industries, and institutions to study and advocate for the expansion of the policy.
“Deconstruction provides the City with a tool in its toolbox to remove blighted properties that have deteriorated beyond repair, but still contain materials that can be salvaged and diverted from the landfill,” said Sarah Kinter, Director of the Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections. "By taking apart a building rather than using traditional demolition we can reduce construction waste, continue to address environmental hazards, and promote the highest demolition standards.”
"We applaud the City’s leadership to divert building material waste from landfill to productive reuse and recycling,” said Mike Gable, Executive Director of Construction Junction, community partners and local experts on the recovery, reuse and recycling of building materials. “We know from 22 years of experience in promoting the reuse of building materials that these efforts create more jobs than disposal and allow the public to make purchases that are better for the environment."