Deconstruction & Construction Materials Management

Building being deconstructed

Overview

Effective July 1, 2020 - Demolition will no longer be allowed.

Deconstruction, the careful disassembly of building components to maximize reuse and recycling, will be required.

Why Require Deconstruction, Reuse, and Source Separation

The goal of the new Deconstruction & Construction Materials Management Ordinance is to recover valuable building material by requiring projects that would have previously been allowed to demolish a structure to deconstruct it. Deconstruction and source separation of materials allows for reuse of the materials (which is better than recycling) and a higher recycling rate for those materials that cannot be reused. 

Despite Palo Alto’s already high recycling rate for construction projects, approximately 44% of what Palo Alto sends to the landfill comes from construction and demolition projects. The new requirements will prevent tons of valuable material from demolished homes from being landfilled, conserving natural resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and encouraging Zero Waste. Palo Alto Municipal Code Section 5.24

Landfilled Materials Pie Chart

Deconstruction & Source Separation Requirements

What Is Changing?

  1. Demolition will no longer be allowed. Deconstruction, the careful disassembly of building components to maximize reuse and recycling, will now be required.
    • Deconstruction and source separation of building materials takes longer than traditional demolition. It is important to plan ahead. 
  2. All deconstruction and construction projects are required to utilize GreenWaste of Palo Alto for the collection of all materials if using containers (bins or debris boxes) at project sites. 


Who Is Affected?

  • Residential and commercial projects where structures are being completely removed (also known as "demolition") – Must comply with the deconstruction, salvage for reuse, and source separation of materials requirements.  
  • All construction projects – Must comply with the Approved Hauler & Processing Facility requirements

When?

  • Deconstruction, salvage for reuse, and source separation requirements are effective July 1, 2020. Building permit applications submitted on or after this date will be subject to these new requirements.
  • Approved Hauler requirements are effective September 2019

What is Required?

Hauling Requirements

All deconstruction and construction projects are required to utilize GreenWaste of Palo Alto for the collection of all materials if using containers (bins or debris boxes) at project sites. Contractors can continue to self-haul material by using trucks, but must still source separate materials and deliver them to one of the City approved processing facilities listed in Green Halo. 

Deconstruction, Salvage Survey, and Source Separation of Materials Requirements

Residential and commercial projects where structures are being completely removed (also known as “demolition”) are required to conduct a survey designating the materials to be salvaged for reuse, deconstruct the structure, and source separate materials for reuse and recycling. Please note, a separate building permit is required for the removal of structures (previously known as a ”demolition” permit). 

Follow these steps for your deconstruction projects:

Step 1 – Prior to Building Permit Application Submittal
  • Obtain a salvage survey by a City approved reuse organization. It will be required as part of your permit application.


Step 2 – After Building Permit Issuance
  • Deconstruct structures by carefully disassembling building components.
  • Separate deconstruction materials into:
    • Materials for reuse 
    • Materials for recycle – separate into specific categories (e.g., obtain separate containers from GreenWaste of Palo Alto for sheetrock, clean wood, etc.). All materials are to be delivered to one of the City approved materials recovery facilities listed in Green Halo.
      • Source separation guidelines will be available in Spring 2020.

 
Time-lapse video of Palo Alto home being deconstructed

Step 3 – Prior to Final Inspection for Building Permit
  • Upload certification to Green Halo that all materials indicated on the salvage survey were properly salvaged by a City approved reuse organization.
  • Upload all other material weights from deconstruction to Green Halo.

 

Definitions

Deconstruction – The systematic and careful dismantling of a structure, typically, in the opposite order it was constructed, in order to maximize the salvage of materials and parts for reuse and recycling.

Demolition – The partial or complete destroying, tearing down, or wrecking of any building or structure. 

Reuse – Further or repeated use of materials or items, including sale or donation of items, but not including recycling.

Reuse organization - Organizations approved by the City to provide salvage surveys and accept materials or items for reuse.

Salvage – The controlled removal of construction or demolition debris/material from a building, construction, or demolition site for the purpose of on- or off-site reuse, or storage for later reuse.

Source separated single recyclable materials – Recyclable materials that are separated from other recyclable materials or solid waste and placed in separate containers according to type or category of materials and directly marketed as a single commodity.

Next Steps

The new deconstruction and source separation requirements are limited to residential and commercial projects where structures are being completely removed. While this is a good start and will allow space for the building materials reuse market to grow with the increased demand, we recognize that the scope of these requirements will need to expand. The timing and scope of the expansion is still under consideration and will be dependent on lessons learned from this initial phase. 

Contact Information

Contact Zero Waste Palo Alto for program related questions.
Zero Waste Palo Alto
deconstruction@cityofpaloalto.org
(650) 496-5910

Contact GreenWaste of Palo Alto for collection service questions.
GreenWaste of Palo Alto
pacustomerservice@greenwaste.com
www.greenwasteofpaloalto.com
(650) 493-4894