Theses Master's

Locating Heritage Value in the Reciprocal Relationship Between Preservation and Waste Management

Arlotta, Allison

There is unexplored potential in the relationship between preservationists – who seek to maintain, restore, rehabilitate, or reconstruct buildings and sites – and waste managers – who work to reduce consumption, and promote the reuse and recycling of materials. Several decades’ worth of research in the fields of environmental science and economics has established that human activity is constrained both by carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, whose accumulation in the atmosphere is causing irreversible climate change, and by limited natural resources, which vary in renewability and are at risk for overconsumption. More recent research asserts the need for architecture, engineering and construction to develop more sustainable practices that address both these constraints through increased building material reuse. Given these environmental conditions, there is a clear need for action to develop a more resource-efficient economy, which requires support through policy. In the United States, there has thus been a move to address the management of waste more holistically through municipal-level waste ordinances that consider the full lifecycle of material, and the deconstruction of buildings at end-of-life has emerged as a critical tool. Despite their intrinsic interaction with aged and existing infrastructure, there has been limited engagement in heritage and preservation literature with the topics of deconstruction, building material reuse, or construction and demolition waste policies more generally. This thesis investigates how preservation and waste management can be understood in tandem, and identifies emerging policy applications engaging both fields. Through a review of historical precedents and case-study analysis of current policies – like the 2016 Portland, Oregon Deconstruction Ordinance – this project finds that the preservation field’s engagement with material reuse hinges on how the material is valued. Ultimately, it discusses the potential for embracing building material reuse as a form of heritage preservation and argues for the active participation of the preservation field in waste reduction efforts.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Neville, Christopher P.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
September 25, 2018