Sustainable Roofs Now Mandatory for all New Buildings and Renovations in NYC

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) is now requiring that all new buildings and current buildings undergoing major roof renovations have solar panels, a green roof system, or both.  The updates must cover 100 percent of any applicable roof.

“In New York City, we are not shirking from the challenge of climate change,” said Melanie E. La Rocca, New York’s Buildings Commissioner.  In an attempt to improve New York’s role in climate change, officials are addressing that New York’s buildings are its largest contributors to carbon emissions with the Climate Mobilization Act. In particular, two percent of the city’s buildings contribute to half of all of the city’s build-related carbon emissions.

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A significant issue in cities is that many like New York are what is called Urban Heat Islands, meaning that they are much warmer than the surrounding rural areas. The prime contributor to this is the large percentage of open air surfaces (the ground, and outside walls and roofs) that are either stone or metal, as opposed to grass and trees.  Green roofs, or roofs with trees, grass and plants on them, can play a major role in reducing this effect, helping naturally regulate the heat along with other issues like reducing heat-enhanced ozone production, absorption of stormwater, absorption of pollution, improving diversity of urban wildlife, and reducing reflection of sound pollution.

Likewise, solar panels not only ease the load on the energy grid of the city, they also help cool roofs of buildings and reduce the amount of heat energy that is reflected back into the atmosphere.

Some notable green roofs in the city are the largest green roof in the city, the Javits Center, along with the Barclays Center, and the USPS Morgan Processing and Distribution Center. In the coming years, the city will look more and more like the tops of these buildings.

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