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Rethos believes reusing and rehabbing old buildings is a sustainable, environmentally conscious practice. We work to reduce energy use in old homes, encourage salvage and material reuse wherever possible, and promote reuse-friendly policies, aligning with our unique grassroots approach to reimagining places.  

Our Initiatives

  • We provide resources and classes that help people maintain & rehab old buildings, reducing our reliance on new, replacement materials. 

  • Through Rethos Policy Institute, we promote the best practices in public policy around historic preservation and building reuse.

  • We are proponents of deconstruction and building material reuse, and we are leaders in education on the process.

  • We build strong partnerships with sustainability organizations around the state.

  • Rethos is an organizational member of Reuse Minnesota and Build Reuse.

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Building Deconstruction & Salvage Toolkit 

Rethos is breaking into new fields by advocating, educating, and promoting deconstruction and salvage as an essential approach to preservation. The reuse of building materials is a proven and powerful industry, gaining momentum across the country due to its waste diversion, climate resiliency impacts, and the value to local communities and economies. We are thrilled to bring this resource to the public and connect building owners with resources, tips, and tools as they pursue sustainable material management goals. This project required collaboration with many organizations, agencies, and individuals who are dedicated and passionate about developing this market and pushing for better building practices and pursuing better solutions.


Download the toolkit here.

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The Minnesota Deconstruction and Reuse Mapping Project
is a pilot project by Rethos in collaboration with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as well as county leaders. The purpose of the project is to collect and track government promoted resources, grants, and initiatives for the sustainable built environment. As deconstruction, salvage, and reuse opportunities and programs grow and develop statewide, we believe in a one-stop shop resource in which Minnesotans can identify what sustainability measures are being taken in or near their county of residence. The map is a public resource and users are encouraged to contribute relevant information if they do not see it represented on the map. Please send any information and updates to

This is a work in progress and a resource experiment.

What is Deconstruction?

Every year in the U.S., about 1 billion square feet of buildings are demolished and replaced with new construction. (Greenest Building Report)

In a typical demolition project in the Twin Cities, about 85% of those materials could be reused or recycled. (Hennepin County)

Rethos promotes deconstruction as a demolition alternative because high quality materials from old buildings don’t belong in the trash.  

Deconstruction Master Class

Rethos received a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to create a pilot series of virtual education workshops about building deconstruction and its connections to the broader preservation field. Deconstruction allows us to salvage the high quality, historic components of unviable buildings and put them back into the construction resources pipeline, making them usable in future projects.


We hosted three panels during May 2022. Expert panelists discussed the basics of deconstruction as a demolition alternative, the environmental benefits of deconstruction, and its intersections with preservation and material heritage. 


The panels attracted a wide range of participants. Planners, preservationists, community advocates, policy makers, waste management staff, and historians were present. Attendees weren’t only from Minnesota, either! Folks came from 14 other states and Canadian provinces.  



Deconstruction Masterclass: The Essentials

Deconstruction Masterclass: Climate and Environmental Impacts

Deconstruction Masterclass: Giving New Life to Old Buildings

 By the Numbers 

  • $5,000 grant  

  • 3 virtual panel sessions  

  • 11 expert panelists  

  • 228 registrants  

  • 116 YouTube views (and counting)  

Find Out More

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Grants Received

Rethos encourages homeowners to increase energy efficiency


GreenStep Cities

Rethos is a partner with Minnesota GreenStep Cities, a voluntary challenge, assistance, and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability and quality-of-life goals.


Public Resources

Resources to help you with your

next project.



What's new in sustainability.

Sustainability Stories


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The Rethos education program is funded in part by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

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