By Jessica Greenspan and Alan Burchell

There are numerous financial incentives in NYC and other cities that encourage the construction of green roofs and solar systems. The incentives from each technology can be applied to the entire system to dramatically reduce a customer’s initial investment. Read on for a quick overview of programs.

NYC incentives Offered

Green roofs


NYC Property Tax Abatement

NYC offers a property tax abatement to building owners who wish to install green roofs. The professional engineer or architect must certify that the roof meets all applicable laws and requirements (area, layers, materials, etc.), in addition to providing all necessary forms, drawings and maintenance plans. The one-time abatement was initially $4.50/SqFt but then in 2013 was increased to $5.23/SqFt and is limited to the lesser of $200,000 or the building’s annual tax.

(UPDATE: In March 2018, this program once again sunset.  Stay tuned to this blog for updates, or contact us directly.)

(UPDATE: In January 2019, NYC Council heard several pieces of newly proposed green roof legislation. One proposed reinstating the tax abatement program and increasing it to $15/sqFt.  Urbanstrong’s principal Alan Burchell was on hand at City Hall to provide expert testimony in support of all these proposed bills.  Stay tuned.)

NYC DEP Green Infrastructure Grant Program

In addition to the many other benefits they offer, green roofs (a type of green infrastructure) are excellent for intercepting and holding rain water before it fills up under-sized sewer systems.  For this reason, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) offers a green infrastructure grant program for private property owners in NYC.  Under this program, the DEP cash reimburses 100% of the design, materials, and construction costs of a green roof system.  While the grant covers basic green roof elements (enough to manage the first inch of stormwater), it does not cover the more lavish green roofing elements (i.e. paving stones, deeper soil systems, intensive plants, decking, solar panels).  The building owner is required to cover the cost of these optional extras, and the DEP actually looks favorably upon applications that contain such in-kind contributions.

(UPDATE: In the spring of 2018, the program was updated.  To be eligible for the grant, a project’s minimum roof area to be greened was changed to 3,500 square feet (325 square meters).  A sliding scale was also introduced whereby building owners are now reimbursed according to depth of system installed…in other words the deeper the system installed, the greater the reimbursement. Note there are minimum and maximum depths for such reimbursements.)

Please note…

In NYC, you unfortunately can not double-dip with the Tax Abatement and the DEP Green Infrastructure Grant Program, so you either apply for one or the other but not both.

Solar Electric PV

Unlike the green roof incentives, eligible building owners in NYC are welcome to apply for, and receive, all the following solar incentives at the same time:


New York State Residential/Commercial Solar Tax Credit

If you are a New York State resident who installed a solar electric PV system on your in-state residence, you may qualify for a tax credit comprising 25% of your installation cost (up to $5000). After filling out a few simple forms you can start saving right away, regardless of whether you purchased or leased your system through a PPA.

Incentives are offered for residential, small commercial, and large commercial and industrial projects (Note that your condo or co-op may qualify as a commercial entity).   The incentive levels (how much the state will pay you per MegaWatt (MW) of solar panels installed) go down over time as more and more people install solar systems.  To view real-time information on the current incentive levels by sector and region, see the MW Block Dashboards here:

New York City Property Tax Abatement (Solar)

NYC is one of 25 American cities designated as a Solar America City, leading the nation in adoption of solar. Hence, to encourage adoption, the city provides four-year tax abatements for solar panel-related expenditures, or up to $62,500.

United States Federal  Solar Tax Credit

Taxpayers may claim up to a 30% credit on solar expenditures for systems that serve the taxpayer’s U.S. residence. Expenditures include labor for preparation, installation, and piping/wiring. You can find incentives organized by installation date here.

Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) Depreciation

MACRS is a method of depreciation under which businesses can recover investments in certain property over a specified amount of time through annual deductions. Qualified solar energy equipment is eligible to recover costs in five years. Further, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2015 extended the allowance of bonus depreciation to an extra 50% for equipment placed in service before 2018, 40% for equipment placed during 2018, etc. And, as an added bonus, sometimes co-ops and condo boards can be considered commercial entities and therefore be eligible for commercial solar incentives, which are typically more generous than residential incentives.

If you want to combine Solar and Green Roofs…


If you install a Solar Green Roof, you may utilize the incentives for both solar and green roofs.

Green Roof Incentives outside NYC:

Other cities offer green roof incentives as well. Here are a few incentive programs in nearby cities:

Philadelphia: Businesses in Philly may earn a rebate for 50% of green roof costs (up to $100,000) through the city’s Green Roof Tax Credit. The Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) and the Greened Acre Retrofit Program (GARP) can also reduce the price for qualified non-residential PWD customers and contractors to design and install stormwater best management practices. Additionally, residential customers may reduce their monthly stormwater bill through reducing the amount of impervious cover on their properties.

Washington, DC: In D.C., the RiverSmart Rooftops Green Roof Rebate Program “offers a rebate of $10 – $15 per square foot for voluntary installations of green roofs around the District.” Residential, commercial and institutional projects of any size are welcome to apply.

Syracuse: Certain private properties may be eligible for grant funding through Onondaga County’s Green Improvement Fund (GIF). The fund offers incentives for green technologies including green roofs.

Baltimore: The Blue Water Baltimore Green Roof Incentive offers incentives of up to $2 per square foot of green roof installed. In addition, installing green roofs decreases the amount of impervious surface on the property, reducing stormwater fees.


With so many incentives available and the value of environmental technologies increasing every day, installing solar panels, green roofs, or both on your building is a great investment. Urbanstrong will assist you every step of the way with the application process for these incentives.