Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Challenges New York to Become Number #1 for Green Roofs and Walls in North America

October 1, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Have you seen this challenge from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities yet?  Sounds like they’re throwing down the gauntlet for the City of New York to step up their greening efforts!

New York is already a city with many, many living architecture projects – in fact, we highlighted this fantastic metropolis in our 2014 Top 10 List of Hot Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design in the #3 category: The Green Apple: New York City

But GRHC believes the city that never sleeps can do better!  Read on from their recent News Release:

Building 3 Million square feet of Green Roofs in New York yields over $95 million in public benefits over a 25 year period including over 4,000 new jobs in construction and maintenance!

New York, NY – Tuesday September 29, 2015 – With just one week to go before 2015 CitiesAlive Green Roof and Wall Conference Oct. 5-8, 2015 in Brooklyn, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), the green roof and wall industry association issued a challenge to New York today, calling upon them to work together to implement more than 3 million square feet of green roof each year starting in 2016.

“New York City is in fifth place for the number of green roofs installed after much smaller cities like Washington, Chicago and Philadelphia. We are issuing a challenge to New York policy makers, developers, designers and building owners to contribute to the goal of 1 billion square feet of green roofs installed in North America by 2022 – that amounts to just over 3 million square feet installed each year!” said Steven W. Peck, GRP, Founder and President of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.


Source: GRHC 2015, Annual Market Survey

“New York has incredible potential to improve the quality of life in the city by utilizing the miles and miles of rooftops to provide amenity spaces to recreate, grow food and get in touch with nature,” said Mark Morrison, CitiesAlive Conference Co-Chair and Principal, MKM Landscape Architects. “With the right types of policies in place, many building owners would leap at the opportunity to turn their barren rooftops and walls into a private or public oasis,” he added.

While important progress has been made in New York, there is considerable room to utilize green roofs and walls to fight climate change, create jobs and improve equity and social justice across the Five Boroughs. For example, industry leaders in New York have been calling on local and state policy makers to:

  • double the $5.23 per square foot tax abatement for green roofs,
  • remove bureaucratic barriers to implementation,
  • expand the existing Department of Environment’s Green Infrastructure Grant Program,
  • change the City’s stormwater detention standard to a retention standard, and
  • make changes to the building code so all new buildings have the loading capacity for green roof installations.

“We are at a critical juncture as a city, with rents increasing faster than wages; environmental catastrophes such as floods threatening the city’s livelihood; high rates of asthma, obesity and hunger; and increasing divisions between the haves and have-nots. The benefits of green infrastructure to New York City are well documented: green infrastructure reduces energy demand, mitigates flooding, improves housing quality, air quality and public health and supports urban agriculture. For New Yorkers, the choice is ours whether we embrace green infrastructure as a critical solution to our environmental and societal challenges, or whether this technology remains underutilized,” said Rob Crauderueff, Co-Chair of CitiesAlive Legacy Committee and CEO of Crauderueff & Associates.

The Green Infrastructure Design Charrette in Harlem on Thursday, October 8 will bring together local and international designers to help to demonstrate the potential of deep green design and implementation in a 10 block area of central Harlem. The designers will focus on how many jobs can be created, for example, through the use of roofs for food production on buildings owned by the Canaan Baptist Church, a partner in the Charrette.


Source: Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, 2015

See the full list of 2015 CitiesAlive Green Roof and Wall Conference speakers and activities, and register now at


Perhaps the Big Apple will eventually be known as the Big Green Apple, but regardless, we send kudos to all of the New York City city officials, designers, developers, and researchers who have done so wonderfully so far!

See you in a few days in Brooklyn?

~ Linda V.

NYC Green Roof Tax Abatement Application Deadline is March 15, 2014

March 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Amended in December 2013, the New York City Green Roof Tax Abatement is now available through March 15, 2018.  NYC’s S.W.I.M. (Stormwater Infrastructure Matters) Coalition reminds us that the application deadline  is March 15, 2014.

NYCBuildingsIn addition to recent modifications to the definition of a greenroof (e.g., adding native and agricultural plant species to the list of “live plants”), a nominal increase in the value of the abatement was recently raised from $4.50 per square foot of greenroof to $5.23 per square foot of greenroof plus doubling the per-project cap from $100,000 to $200,000 – see Bill AB7058 for more info.

“Beginning with tax years commencing on or after July 1, 2014, and ending on or before June 30, 2019, the tax abatement is increased from $4.50 per square foot to $5.23 per square foot of a green roof, provided that the amount of the abatement does not exceed the lesser of $200,000 (an increase from $100,000) or the tax liability of the eligible building in the tax year in which the abatement is taken.

The amount that can be spent in any one year on the abatement program is capped at $750,000 in City fiscal year 2015 and $1 million in City fiscal years 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. The aggregate amount of abatements will be allocated by the New York City Department of Finance among eligible applicants on a pro rata basis.” ~ CCH

S.W.I.M.’s Coordinator, Rob Crauderueff, has an article on the subject featured in the current edition of the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities publication, the Living Architecture Monitor – see a PDF here or view the entire Living Architecture Monitor Spring 2014, Revitalization issue here.  Rob highlights S.W.I.M.’s success in encouraging the New York City’s Green Infrastructure Plan and outlines considerations to improve implementation of the Green Roof Tax Abatement Program.

Live in NYC and want to apply?  Read the 1 RCNY §105-01 Requirements for the approval of a property tax abatement application for the installation of a green roof here.  (By the way, not to worry but the NYC’s main Green Roofs page erroneously says the program has expired – they need to update it!)


About S.W.I.M. 

S.W.I.M. is a coalition dedicated to ensuring swimmable waters around New York City through natural, sustainable stormwater management practices in our neighborhoods. This approach is environmentally and fiscally responsible because it utilizes stormwater, currently viewed as waste, as a resource.

  • How we work: Our members gather for a public meeting six times a year, every other month. We have a steering committee that also meets six times a year, on the alternating months. In this way, the activities of the steering committee are informed by and communicated with the larger coalition. In our January 2011 public meeting, we formed committees in the following four areas:
  • Green Roof Tax Credit – to coordinate member interest in strengthening the existing Green Roof Tax Credit and future Green Infrastructure incentives
  • Workforce Development – to support existing and future job training, certification and labor initiatives relating to Green Infrastructure
  • Public Notification – to focus on specific, creative strategies for protecting public health at the water’s edge
  • Fundraising – to develop S.W.I.M. Coalition capacity and support its organizational stability ~ S.W.I.M.

For more information on the NYC Green Roof Tax Abatement program, please contact Kevin Dahms at

Happy Greening,

~ Linda V.