Photo Courtesy of Comptroller Stringer’s Office
“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,” Comptroller Stringer said.
By Forum Staff
Newly signed legislation will boost enrollment in the green roof tax abatement program, two borough elected officials and the city’s fiscal watchdog noted on Monday in Flushing.
State Sen. John Liu (D-Bayside) and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) sponsored the new law that reforms and modernizes the existing green roof tax abatement. The measure, which drew heavily from a 2018 proposal outlined by City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Danielle Spiegel-Feld, a professor at New York University Law School, to reauthorize the citywide green roof tax credit and target an enhanced $15 per square-foot credit to areas most at need of green space, increases a tax break for property owners that choose to install a green roof in neighborhoods that struggle with regular sewer overflows or a lack of green space.
According to Stringer, the law reforms an existing tax abatement program from 2009 which has largely failed to catalyze the growth of green roofs, with only seven roofs receiving the abatement during the program’s decade-long run. Because the program’s tax abatement was dismal and undercut by “broadly unrealistic regulatory standards,” Stringer said property owners saw little incentive in greening their roofs. The new law aims to boost these meager results by scaling up the tax abatement and incentivizing the construction of green roofs in the areas of the city most in need of green space and the many benefits green roofs provide. The City will select priority areas for the newly enhanced credit under the new law on a rolling basis.
“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. “I want to thank Senator Liu, Assemblymember Rozic, and Gov. Cuomo for their commitment to greening our city. 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.”
According to the comptroller, green roofs only cover one in 1,000 buildings in the five boroughs, and every dollar invested in green roofs generates an estimated $2 in benefits by mitigating storm water runoff and providing green space.
“The aggressive measures contained in the climate protection law we passed last month ensures that New York leads the way in keeping our planet inhabitable,” Liu said. “This Green Roof bill incentivizes individual homeowners to contribute meaningfully to that global effort and significantly reduce our local emissions.”
Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, added, “Not only is green infrastructure a critical way to keep our waterways clean, it can also bolster resiliency and air quality at the same time. That’s why we were glad to support the expanded green roof tax abatement this session. This program is designed to benefit the communities most impacted by [combined sewer overflows] and flash floods, and we hope it will lead to a significant expansion of green infrastructure on private property.”