Deconstruction a local government model
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Deconstruction: A Local Government Model. Wayne Fenton Orange County Public Works, Hillsborough, NC.

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Deconstruction: A Local Government Model

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Deconstruction a local government model

Deconstruction: A Local Government Model

Wayne Fenton

Orange County Public Works,

Hillsborough, NC

What is deconstruction

Deconstruction is the process of selectively and systematically disassembling buildings that would otherwise be demolished to generate a supply of materials suitable for reuse in the construction or rehabilitation of other structures.

Deconstruction differs from recycling in that recycling does not seek to capture building materials in a reusable form (i.e., whole bricks, blocks, clean, unbroken pieces of lumber, etc.)

What is Deconstruction?

A brief history

A Brief History

  • Orange County owns 34 buildings

  • Buildings range in age from pre-Revolutionary war to modern structures

The building

The Building

Approximately 3,000 square feet

The experiment

The Experiment

  • A 1920’s/1950’s mixed construction structure housing a sheltered workshop

  • Building located in heart of historic district

  • Sat vacant for several years after suffering severe storm damage

  • Options considered

The process

The Process

  • Project approved by BOCC

  • Purchasing Dep’t persuaded

  • Bid-process tailored

  • Seasoned local deconstruction specialists hired

  • Process documented

Desired project outcomes

Removal of unsafe structure

Capture of valuable materials, especially for use in other similar vintage structures

Demonstrate feasibility of process

Provide skills enhancement opportunities

Document the process:

To develop promotional video

To develop basic “how-to” video

Desired Project Outcomes

Materials recovered

Materials Recovered

  • 39+ tons of building materials recovered for reuse through deconstruction

Recovered materials

Recovered Materials

Materials recycled

Materials Recycled

  • 6 tons of metal

  • 1 ton of white goods

  • 140 tons of concrete

Waste generated

Waste Generated

  • Less than 100 tons of waste generated by deconstruction required disposal

  • Primarily rotted wood, mixed composition items, sheetrock, shingles

Benefits of deconstruction

Benefits of Deconstruction



  • Cost of deconstruction can be less than cost of demolition

  • Salvaged materials have a value

  • Cost avoidance in tipping fees

  • Preservation of landfill space

  • Job-skills training



  • Preservation of landfill space

  • Resource conservation

  • Deconstruction a cleaner technology than demolition – less noise, air pollution



  • Governments should lead by example

  • Act as a catalyst to contractors, facility owners/managers

  • Be a model for other governments

Cost benefit analysis

Demolition Costs

Estimate: $50,000

Deconstruction Costs

Actual Expenditures: $37,929


Salvaged Materials Value: $37,130*

Landfill Fees Avoided: $1,600

Cost Benefit Analysis

* Based on local vendor estimate

Measuring success

Structure successfully and safely removed

Some materials have been reused in other projects

Demonstrated feasibility of deconstruction option

Provided temporary workers with enhanced skills – two hired by County, one still employed

Promotional video complete & limited distribution

Measuring Success

The video

The Video

  • High quality, low budget

  • 16 minutes running time

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