The Carbon Cost Of Demolition


ECONorthwest and Restore Oregon shared with us their recent study: "Understanding the Carbon Cost of Demolition". The link is to the summary. When we get the full report, we'll add it to this post. Or read the full report here at Restore Oregon's website.


Here are a few excepts - the summary is worth reading in full:


"According to ECONorthwest’s calculations, renovating a 1,500 SF older home reduces embedded CO2 emissions by 126 metric tons, versus tearing down the same structure and replacing it with a new 3,000 SF residential building. Such savings may be better understood this way: a savings of 126 metric tons of embedded CO2 is roughly equivalent to the prevention of 44,048 gallons of gasoline emissions being released into the atmosphere."


"It is often assumed that the CO2-reduction benefits gained by a new, energy efficient building outweigh any negative climate change impacts associated with the construction of that building. This study finds that it takes 10 to 80 years for a new building that is 30 percent more efficient than an average-performing existing building to overcome, through efficient operations, the negative climate change impacts related to the construction process.”


Looking around us at many of the newest buildings in Portland, we wonder how many will last even 50 years, much less 80. Put another way: fifty years from now, in 2071, will that new building still be valued, preserved, and ready to stand for another 50 or 100 years?


Laurelhurst's historic homes have stood for a century or more, and are as lovely, sound, and cared-for as they were in 1912 or 1920. With care, and protection from heedless demolition, they will stand for another century. The greenest building is the one that already exists.


P.S. A shoutout to Restore Oregon, our statewide historic preservation non-profit. RO helped Laurelhurst neighbors' fundraising for the Historic District!

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