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Council makes easy green choice

Perhaps it's easy being green after all.

At least the Gresham Redevelopment Commission recently found it easy - not to mention affordable - to approve an environmentally friendly removal of the old Fred Meyer building in Rockwood.

The commission wisely chose deconstruction of the Fred Meyer structure over what turned out, surprisingly, to be more expensive alternatives for demolition.

When a building is demolished, the debris is hauled away for disposal in a landfill. When it is deconstructed with salvaging and recycling in mind, the debris is reused - not buried.

The Gresham Redevelopment Commission, made up of City Council members, now owns the Fred Meyer property, which is considered the key catalyst site for Rockwood urban renewal. The first step toward redeveloping the land is to clear it of the outdated 85,000-square-foot building that once housed the main Fred Meyer store.

But the commission also wants to live up to Gresham's commitment for sustainability, so it asked contractors to bid the project two ways - using conventional techniques or green deconstruction. It turned out that a Sandy company that specializes in recycling buildings - Konell Construction and Demolition - had not only the most experience in deconstruction, but also offered a price that was more than $180,000 below its closest competitor.

In deconstructing the building, Konell expects to salvage 97 percent of the debris, which amounts to 2,500 tons of concrete rubble, 71 tons of metal and 30 tons of wood. Put another way, that's more than 5 million pounds of material that won't be piled into a landfill.

This project demonstrates that doing the right thing for the environment doesn't always entail spending more money or enduring major inconveniences. Often, environmental and economic goals can work hand in hand. In this case, the redevelopment commission is actually saving money, while respecting the environment and advancing Rockwood renewal.