Green Roofs: A Cost Effective Policy for New York City?

Client: Gaia Institute
Faculty: Audrey Slade and Rae Zimmerman
Team: Eric Goldwyn, Angie Hacker, Jaime Hernandez, Matthew Hopkins, Scott Solish
Year: 2007
Green roofs serve as an innovative strategy to help cities develop sustainable practices that contribute to the restoration of their natural habitat. Dense urban development and neglect have jeopardized New York City’s environment and created a situation where poor air quality, increased local temperatures, high-energy consumption, inadequate storm-water management, pollution, limited access to open space, and excessive levels of solid waste threaten public health and fiscal solvency. Currently, New York City lacks a comprehensive and cost-effective strategy to mitigate these adverse conditions. Using case studies, GIS modeling, a political climate review, and a study of costs and benefits, this study concludes that green roofs can play a significant role in helping the city to achieve five of the ten sustainability goals recently outlined by Mayor Bloomberg initiative PlaNYC 2030, while also producing economic savings. Additionally, this report offers implementation recommendations for a city-wide policy and suggests a specific location in NYC that would be best suited as a starting point for green roof infrastructure.