By Devin Fehely

PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — The Palo Alto City Council on Wednesday enacted sweeping changes to how homes are demolished and built within the city, hoping to reduce the amount construction waste that ends up in landfills.

“The major good that this will do is not with salvage and reuse. The significant thing for us is trying to recycle more of it,” said Assistant Director of Public Works Phil Bobel.

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Bobel says according to city estimates more than 40 percent of the waste that ends up in landfills each year comes from construction sites.

The new requirements will go into effect July 1, 2020. Bobel says under the new rules tear-downs of existing buildings or homes will follow a process of “deconstruction” in which the building would be disassembled piece by piece with the goal of reusing or recycling as much as possible.

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The city estimates “deconstruction” will take more time — two weeks on average compared to two or three days. And Bobel say it will be more expensive; likely two to three times more.

But supporters say the payoff will be the potential to reduce waste and pollution.

“Short term, it’s going to be very expensive. We know it’s going to be expensive. But at the same time, do we want to send all this to a landfill and create all of this waste? What’s the point of having an earth if you can’t live on it. It’s that kind of thing,” said Amy Lee in support of the new ordinance.

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