What is Deconstruction?


Deconstruction is the systematic dismantling of a structure in the reverse order of construction in order to salvage the building components for reuse and/or recycling.

Types of deconstruction:

Material salvage: select components and features are removed from the building prior to building strip-out or removal.

Partial deconstructiona portion of the building, either particular segments or the entire interior, are removed prior to renovations or full removal.

Full deconstruction: the entire building is removed to the foundation piece by piece.

Full deconstruction in progress

When to Deconstruct?

Deconstruction is appropriate before any type of demolition, either partial or full, including preparing a building for renovations or a change of use, replacing outdated components, or fully removing an unstable or vacant structure.

Why Deconstruct?

Benefits Earth

  • Deconstruction diverts materials from landfills or illegal dumping grounds.
  • It conserves natural resources by reducing the demand for virgin materials.
  • It reduces the carbon footprint of manufacturing and transporting new materials to new construction.


Benefits the Bottom Line

  • Reduced disposal and hauling costs
  • Significant tax savings
  • Property values increase
  • Builds local economies with stable, skilled workers.
  • Offers career opportunities to disadvantaged populations

Benefits the Community

  • Preserves historical or architectural elements for reuse
  • Reduces substandard structures count, remediates abandoned buildings and provides hazard abatement
  • Provides easy access to historically, culturally and location appropriate materials for renovations and preservation projects.
  • Increases the availability of quality, affordable building materials.

Opportunities in Philadelphia:

  • Deconstruction is a labor-intensive process that is a great vehicle for job training – providing skills in an emerging industry and other building trades, through hands-on experience.
  • The jobs created help people support themselves and their families while contributing to the local economy.
  • The work remediates a portion of the 40,000 vacant properties in Philadelphia that drive away investment, attract crime and drag down property values city-wide by an estimated $3.6 billion.
  • Thousands of tons of usable building materials are generated for immediate use.