Historic Passing of the Climate Mobilization Act in New York City – Green Roofs Required on New Buildings (April 2019)

Note to Reader:

New York City Council has passed a suite of measures to reduce greenhouse gases released from buildings in New York City, including a requirement for green roofs and/or solar panels on newly constructed buildings. The Climate Mobilization Act passed on April 18, 2019.

New York now joins cities like Denver, San Francisco, Toronto and Portland, Oregon in making green roofs a requirement. The Climate Mobilization Act is the largest single act to cut climate pollution of any city.

New York City’s Climate Mobilization Act

The New York City Council passed the world’s “largest single carbon reduction effort that any city, anywhere, has ever put forward” on Thursday afternoon, marking a major milestone in the fight against the climate crisis. The Climate Mobilization Act contains 10 provisions for a greener New York.

The legislation packages together 10 separate bills and resolutions, and calls in its centerpiece bill for a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from city buildings.

The package of bills includes three pieces of legislation from Council members Rafael Espinal, Donovan Richards and Stephen Levin. They will require 100 percent of the roof area to be covered, a more aggressive requirement than that of other cities, which only require 25 to 50 percent of the roof to be covered.

The most dramatic measure would require buildings of more than 25,000 square feet—which are responsible for 30 percent of the city’s carbon emissions—to conduct retrofits, such as new windows and insulation, to make those buildings more energy-efficient.

Green roofs will soon be required on all new buildings in NY City

Rafael Espinal, New York City Council Member, has been at the forefront of this push for a greener New York City.

“Today, we are passing a bill that won’t just make our skyline prettier – it will also improve the quality of life for New Yorkers for generations to come. My legislation will require green roofs to be installed on new residential and commercial buildings, making New York the largest city in the nation to pass such a law,” stated Espinal

“We’ve already seen the revolutionary benefits of green roofs in action thanks to places around the city like Brooklyn Steel, the Barclays Center, the Javits Center, the USPS Morgan Processing and Distribution Center, and many others. They cool down cities by mitigating Urban Heat Island Effect, cut energy costs, absorb air pollution, reduce storm-water runoff, promote biodiversity, provide sound-proofing, and make our cities more livable for all.”

One hundred percent of new residential and commercial buildings may soon be required to install green or solar rooftops following the passage in the City Council of three bills on Thursday. If signed into law, it would make New York the largest city in the country to pass such a requirement.

Mayor Bill de Blasio now has to sign off on the bill, which he is expected to do, having already voiced his support, according to Espinal. (Even if the mayor doesn’t sign off on the legislation, it automatically becomes law after 30 days.)

All new buildings and any homeowner doing renovation on their existing rooftop will have to invest in the green infrastructure.

To Learn More:

Download a copy of the press release issued by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities.