Treasure in the Walls: Reclaiming Value Through Material Reuse in San Antonio

Client: San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation
Date: March 2021

As a major city in the quickly expanding Sunbelt, San Antonio has become a magnet for growth and opportunity. However, like in almost every other city in the country, the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified pre-existing challenges, like housing affordability and climate resiliency. San Antonio needs a new plan going forward that will address these compounding crises, and the solution lies in policies that advance a circular economy. Transitioning from a linear economy model, whereby materials are manufactured, used, and discarded, to a circular economy, where rather than discarded, materials are recycled and reused will allow the City to recover and leverage existing assets to meet its stated economic, equity, sustainability, waste diversion, and housing goals. The adoption of a deconstruction ordinance would be a major step in this transition. As the findings within this report illustrate, jumpstarting and scaling a deconstruction program will create positive economic and environmental outcomes for local residents and businesses. This report outlines the economic and environmental cost of demolition, the impact of a deconstruction ordinance, opportunities for the retail impact of deconstruction, and proposes strategic next steps for implementing a deconstruction program in the San Antonio.

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