Green Roof Policy Bill Proposed for NYC – Details

UPDATE: (01/23/19) Urbanstrong’s principal Alan Burchell will now be providing technical expert testimony to members of City Council at the below-mentioned  hearing.

alan burchell testifying before NYC council in support of green roof bill

Alan Burchell, Principal of Urbanstrong, providing expert testimony to New York City Council in support of the Green Roof Bill on Jan 28 2019.

UPDATE:  On January 28th, 2019 at 10:00am, City Council will hold a hearing to decide on two pieces of proposed green roof legislation:  whether green roofs and solar panels should be mandatory on certain New York City roofs, and, if the green roof tax abatement should be increased from $5.23 (peanuts) per square foot to $15 per square foot (60% of most med-large NYC green roof installations).
Urbanstrong is in full support of both of these proposed measures and if you are too, then come show your support for this public hearing.

250 Broadway – Committee Rm, 16th Fl.
For more info:


In July 2018, Council Member Espinal (D37), together with several other representatives, including Stephen Levin (D33), and Donovan Richards (D31), proposed a new green roof policy bill requiring that certain NYC buildings be covered in green roofs, solar panels or small wind turbines.  More details about the legislation can be found here on the New York City Council webpage.  Details are still sparse around which buildings, when, what kind of green roof, how big, how deep, etc… but the intent is there.   Currently the rationale given is:

“This bill would require that the rooftops of buildings or structures in occupancy groups B, I-4, M, or S-2, as defined in section BC 302 of the New York city building code, be covered in plants (known as “green roofs”), solar panels, small wind turbines or a combination of all three. This legislation promotes energy efficient building practices, as green roofs filter pollutants and add agricultural space, solar roofs encourage renewable energy generation and reduce air pollution and small wind turbines generate heat and electric power in an environmentally conscious manner.”

Green Roof Policy Bill event space Terrace with sunset on NYC skyline

Photo credit: Alan Burchell of Urbanstrong

Sometime in November, there will be a hearing for the public to learn more and show their support.  We will post details of this hearing here as soon as they become available.

Community Event to Discuss Green Roof Policy Bill

Last Friday night, (October 19 2018), Council Member Rafael L. Espinal Jr., who is the representative for District 37 (“proudly serving the diverse communities of Bushwick, Brownsville, Cypress Hills, and East New York”), spoke to an at-capacity room about the newly proposed green roof policy bill.   The range of people in attendance was quite broad.  Elected city officials were there.  So were representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection.  There were also green roof practitioners, like Urbanstrong and rooftop farmers, like Brooklyn Grange.  And researchers, from the Green Roof Researchers Alliance.  And advocates for Green Roof financing (PACE Nation). There were also property developers and real estate folks.  We all chimed in during the Q&A to discuss the issue and help educate the politicians.  We supplied them with arguments and noise-cutting facts to help them fight for their proposed green roof policy bill.

Council Member Espinal discusses Green Roof Policy Bill to a crowd

Photo credit: Alan Burchell of Urbanstrong

The Space

Alive Structures hosted the event last Friday at Kingsland Wildflowers at Broadway Stages in Greenpoint.  The building hosts a network of four different green roofs – some accessible as amenity spaces, some only viewable from above.  The upper roof offers an up-close view of the nearby Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, particularly at twilight.  The owner of the host building was in attendance on Friday.  He proudly spoke of how he paid for the green roof with his own money, including the structural reinforcement.   He also spoke of the energy savings and various other returns on the investment.

Green Roof Policy event space - a terrace looking at NYC skyline at dusk

Photo credit: Alan Burchell of Urbanstrong

Alan Steel of Javits Center

Most impressively, Alan Steel, President and CEO of the Javits Center was also there and spoke firmly about the massive benefits his facility has enjoyed since installing what is still the second largest green roof in the country.  This includes a 23% reduction in energy bills due to the insulating effect of the green roof layers.  The green roof also boosted employee morale, and dramatically improved PR for the building.  Mr Steel attending the event and speaking up like this was important.  Building owners and developers in the room sit up and listen when they hear numbers like this. Particularly coming from a fellow building owner with nothing to gain.

Javits Center Green Roof in NYC

Javits Center Green Roof, Photo credit: Alan Burchell of Urbanstrong

Again, keep an eye on this page as we will post details here about the hearing in November.  Come out and show your support for this green roof policy bill which will benefit everyone in New York and beyond.

Money is Falling From the Sky

Council Member Espinal, Alan Steel of the Javits Center, and Urbanstrong would like to remind everyone to start thinking of rooftops as BUCKETS rather than LIDS.  There’s valuable stuff falling from the sky.  Water and photons (solar energy) are only going to become more and more precious.  If money is falling from the sky, would you rather have a bucket on your roof, or a lid?   Green roofs and solar panels are buckets.  Urbanstrong sells buckets. Drop us a line today.  #RoofsAreBucketsNotLids