By Midge Pierce
In response to last month’s story, The Rubble Within, Justin Wood with the Portland Homebuilder’s Association says the association has not done any formal research on the topic of embedded energy, but maintains it is not a simple matter of comparing materials and energy used by the demolition of a house as the sole factor.
“I have read different reports weighing the value of new construction, demo(lition), remodel etc. and I have seen different results.
“Yes, when a home is demolished the materials must be dealt with. In our area, the materials from the demolition are sent to a facility that recycles the waste. While not all of it can be recycled I do believe something like half of the material is able to be recycled.
“It is worth it to realize that new homes are extremely more energy-efficient and therefore have a lower carbon footprint moving forward than an older non energy efficient home does. I do not know at what point the timeline for the materials used to make the new home, pass savings gained from the energy consumption savings.
“One part that is missed in this is that there is a segment of the population that wants new homes. If we are unable to meet the demand for new homes in Portland to accommodate new families, then these families will have to look elsewhere for their housing choices.
“If you compare a family living in a new home, in close-in neighborhood, they have services available to them which might save quite a lot of auto usage. If a family cannot find or afford a house to meet their choices, then they may look to other suburban areas where they have to commute longer to make their budget and preferences meet. This is called the leap frog effect.”
Restore Oregon stands by its position that the greenest house is an existing house and that teardowns are more impactful than renovations.
It added a correction to the tally of waste cited in the article. An average 1200 foot house tear-down generates 115 lbs of waste per square foot.