By Phineas Rueckert
New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, State Sen. John Liu and Assemblymember Nily Rozic visited Flushing Monday to announce legislation that would expand the number of green roofs citywide through a tax abatement program.
The legislation would extend a bill initially passed in 2008 and amended in 2013 that enables owners of residential or commercial buildings to receive a tax credit for planting greenery on their rooftops.
“New York City should be at the forefront of urban sustainability and green innovation, and our barren roofs offer an ideal opportunity to improve air quality, reduce energy use, ease storm related flooding, and increase the amount of green spaces in communities that need it the most,” Stringer said in a statement. “This bill is just the start. It’s time we used the 62 square miles of available space on top of our buildings to truly create a green oasis in the skies in every corner of the city.”
To qualify as a “green roof,” the top of a building must be at least 80 percent covered by vegetation, according to Adaptation Clearinghouse, which is part of the Georgetown Climate Center. In New York, the new tax abatement is worth $15 per square foot, according to a press release from Comptroller Stringer.
Despite some progress in building green roofs citywide including on top of buildings like the Javits and Barclays Centers, New York has a long way to go to truly embrace green roofs — part of its goal of reducing carbon emissions by buildings by 80 percent before 2050.
According to the Nature Conservancy, less than 0.1 percent of the city’s 1 million buildings had one in 2016.
* A previous version of this article misstated the value of the tax abatement as $4.50 per square foot. This was the previous value of the tax abatement, not the one included in Stringer’s bill.