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Green roofing on new buildings pushed by city lawmakers

Denver and San Francisco have already adopted energy-efficient roofing system standards.

Councilman Rafael Espinal talks about legislative efforts to

Councilman Rafael Espinal talks about legislative efforts to promote green roofs beside a garden on the roof of Vice Media on July 18, 2018. Photo Credit: John McCarten at the New York City Council

Lawmakers are pushing greener roofs for a greener city.

Three City Council members announced a campaign Wednesday in support of legislation requiring nearly all newly constructed buildings to have energy-efficient roofing systems.

Depending on the type of building, a package of Council bills would mandate that all, or at least half, of the roof be covered with installations like greenery, solar panels or small wind turbines. Over time, the measures would help the city reduce its carbon footprint and combat climate change, according to Brooklyn Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr., who is sponsoring some of the legislation in question.

“By greening every single rooftop in New York City, we will make a strong commitment to doing our part to protect the planet,” Espinal said in a statement. “New York City could turn our concrete jungle into a green oasis.”

Espinal introduced a bill Wednesday that would require green roofs, solar panels or small wind turbines on new skyscrapers, storage facilities and department stores. He is teaming up with Brooklyn Councilman Stephen Levin and Queens Councilman Donovan Richards Jr., who introduced bills earlier this year that would require similar green roofing systems on other types of buildings, like new homes, libraries and schools.

Packaged together, the three pieces of legislation could ensure that all newly constructed buildings — and any existing structure that undergoes a roof replacement — support some sort of environmentally friendly activity.

All three measures were originally introduced during the Council’s 2014 to 2017 legislative session, but failed to come to a vote. Since then, cities like San Francisco and Denver have adopted similar requirements — and the councilmen hope their new campaign will help the idea catch on in New York.

Locally, the move has been backed by the Stormwater Infrastructure Matters Coalition and the nonprofit Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.

But the Real Estate Board of New York, a trade association for the real estate industry, panned the legislation in a statement.

“We appreciate the Council’s effort to promote sustainability. However, these proposals are missing some important technical points,” said John Banks, the board’s president. “Not every roof is equipped to host a green roof due to load considerations and not every roof receives enough direct sunlight or wind to warrant the installation of solar panels or wind turbines. We look forward to working with the Council on reducing our carbon footprint in more effective ways.”

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