New York City is home to more than 250,000 square feet of green roofs maintained by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. These urban spaces are intended to combat the heat island effect while supporting native plants, providing food, decreasing energy costs, enhancing air quality, sequestering carbon, improving stormwater management, and supporting wildlife. These areas host honeybee hives, vegetable gardens, hydroponic towers, solar panels, and green spaces for the public to enjoy.
While many green roof projects were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, development is back on track, and 2022 promises to be a banner year.
Mayor Adams & Green Roofs
While NYC Mayor Eric Adams just took office on January 1, he’s already a passionate proponent of urban farming, expressing interest in developing rooftop farms to feed the city. His plans to address climate change remain unclear. However, Adams will need to focus on meeting the commitments of his predecessor Mayor Bill de Blasio—including reducing greenhouse gas emissions of large buildings by 40%. Green roofs are a logical next step in Mayor Adams’ agenda and a new program sets the city in the right direction.
Newly Introduced Youth Sustainability Corps Poised to Expand Green Roofs
In an effort to expand green roof space and provide training in green jobs, New York City is introducing a new initiative: the Youth Sustainability Corps. It’s part of the Department of Youth & Community Development’s (DYCD) Work Learn Grow program and funded by the City Cleanup Corps, with training from NYC Parks. The program invited 30 NYC students to participate, representing 18 schools in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.
Experts from NYC Parks will provide training on planning green roof infrastructure, and students will gain hands-on experience with project design and installation. The program is 225 hours long and rewards participants with a $3,375 stipend.
Ultimately, the Youth Sustainability Corps hopes to add 50,000 square feet of green roof space, divided between six buildings:
- Staten Island
These green roofs are projected to absorb 1.5 million gallons of stormwater annually and decrease the temperature of each rooftop up to 90 degrees compared to black rooftops. While the project is budgeted to cost $500,000, it is expected to ultimately save the city more than $8 million.
While the potential environmental benefits of this green roof initiative are undeniable, the students participating in the program also stand to gain. Not only will they participate in sustainability project training but explore green careers and develop valuable skills they can apply to future jobs.
The program is slated to run through March 5, and construction will commence in April.