Instead of demolition, deconstruction of neighbourhood homes is a wonderful, great green idea!

And it has already happened as a pilot project in the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, funded through Service Canada’s Youth Skills Link ($200,000) initiative titled “Creating a Sustainable Tomorrow (CAST) Youth Skills Link Project.”

“CAST provides a unique opportunity for “at-risk” youth to develop employability and life skills and environmental awareness, followed by supported attachment to the construction/deconstruction/renovation (CDR) labour markets or return to school.”

The youth are:

  • between the ages of 15 – 30 at time of intake/selection
  • unemployed or underemployed (working less than 20 hrs/week)
  • are identified as a youth at-risk
  • have a high standard of physical health and stamina suitable for full time work

Twenty inner-city youth at risk acquired 11 weeks of Group Based Employability Skills and confidence as well as concepts of environmental responsibility and stewardship.

This innovative green project to deconstruct homes provided the following green and social benefits for the City of Vancouver:

  • “creating green jobs and
  • keeping over 90 per cent of a home out of the landfill….and incinerator… salvaging, recycling and re-using home materials through deconstruction will help us meet our 2020 zero waste target
  • testing deconstruction techniques, efficiencies and the reuse/resale/recycling of these housing materials
  • furthering regional and provincial objectives to substantially reduce waste and carbon emissions by 2020
  • advancing the proliferation of the new “green” economy
  • reducing poverty in our communities by training and employing marginalized youth and adults
  • generating non-profit businesses who will use profits to invest further in training and services”

Please click here to see the outcomes of this pilot project of deconstructing homes.

The City wants to promote a deconstructive strategy.

Vancouver Gets Green and Social Benefits from Deconstructing Neighbourhood Homes

Vancouver Gets Green and Social Benefits from Deconstructing Neighbourhood Homes

City of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

New Release

Mayor joins partners on innovative green project to deconstruct homes

March 21, 2011 – Mayor Gregor Robertson today joined partners to highlight the green and social benefits of a pilot project that deconstructs, rather than demolishes, neighbourhood homes.

“This project exemplifies the City’s Greenest City goals by creating green jobs and keeping over 90 per cent of a home out of the landfill,” said Mayor Robertson. “Salvaging, recycling and re-using home materials through deconstruction will help us meet our 2020 zero waste targets.”

“Deconstruction demonstrates triple bottom line actions – socially, by providing opportunities for youth to gain skills and confidence, environmentally, by being on the leading edge of a greener city vision and economically, by demonstrating that non-profits are social and economic innovators,” said Ian Mass, Executive Director of the Pacific Community Resources Society, a not-for profit society serving Lower Mainland communities since 1984.

“The skills link program teaches you lifeskills that you can use on and off the worksite, it creates a good strong team, and a good work ethic,” said Kaggen Leakey, a participant in the program. “I’m going to work, finishing my school and then I want to go to BCIT to take welding instruction.”

Twenty inner-city youth at risk were provided skills and training to deconstruct two homes as part of this project. Ninety-three per cent of materials were diverted from the landfill and incinerator during the first project.

In Vancouver, about 750 houses are demolished each year, with approximately 40 tonnes of materials produced by each house. One-third of Metro’s waste comes from construction, demolition or land clearing. The majority of this waste is wood waste.

The City helped find the homes for the pilot project and will analyze how much waste is diverted from the landfill and incinerator. The City will also assess regulatory systems, incentives and policy tools to promote a deconstruction strategy.

Pacific Labor, owned and operated by Barry Joneson, was contracted to train the youth in deconstruction practices.

Service Canada provided $200,000 in youth training contracts.

View backgrounder (PDF 54 kb)

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