Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Incentives for Green Roofs

The Eagle received this press release:

Together with environmental advocates, Council Member David Yassky and Council Member James Gennaro yesterday announced they were introducing the Sustainable Roof Act of 2009 at today’s stated meeting of the City Council. The bill will provide property tax abatements to building owners who install green and white roofs through the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s (HPD) J-51 Program.

“This bill will not only encourage the creation of environmentally-sustainable buildings and reduce our consumption of carbon-based energy sources, but will create the green economy jobs this city needs to compete,” said Council Member Yassky. “As we fight through an economic downturn and threats to our environment, we must take bold steps toward a cleaner, more prosperous City.”

Councilman James F. Gennaro, Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee and author of the City's Stormwater Management Plan, which mandates the use of green roofs and blue roofs to help prevent street flooding, said: “Rooftops used to be for TV antennas and drying laundry — no longer. We finally have the know-how and the will to put the countless acreage of our rooftops to work in cooling our city, shrinking its carbon footprint and reducing stormwater runoff. This is common-sense legislation that should be adopted immediately.”

“This bill identifies a major source of untapped potential for the City to green itself, and creates a powerful economic incentive to make use of it,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “Where we can encourage environmental sustainability alongside economic investment, the City stands to benefit twice over.”

“This bill would help New York City residents save millions in energy costs while spurring a new sector of green jobs,” said Larry Levine, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Green rooftops, planted with vegetation, reduce cooling costs and keep rainwater from overwhelming our sewers, while rooftop solar panels provide reliable, home-grown, clean energy solutions. These are shovel-ready, smart-energy investments for today and tomorrow that not only improve the environment but also provide new economic opportunities the City desperately needs.”

“New York City’s thousands of square miles of empty roofscape amount to what is perhaps our single most underutilized resource,” said Christopher Neidl, Coordinator of Solar One. “Distributed clean, applications like photovoltaics, green roofs and white roofs deliver many services, solutions and amenities that our city needs, and promise to generate scores of quality jobs that are inherently local. This well considered and well timed legislation aims to tap the enormous potential of our roof resource by mitigating the financial barriers that currently suppress local investment. If it passes and becomes policy, it will make a big difference.”

The J-51 Program is administered by the NYC HPD to encourage the renovation of residential properties by granting partial tax exemption and abatement benefits. Benefits vary, depending on the location of the property and the extent and nature of the improvements.

Under the program’s rules, alterations designed to conserve energy are eligible for the abatement. However, the current requirements fail to include alterations for green and white roofs. These improvements serve to reduce the electricity consumption of the building, and in turn, the building’s burden on the city’s electricity grid and carbon footprint.

On average, the J-51 property tax abatement reduces the cost of the rehabilitation by 90 percent of the cost of the work for up to 20 years. While the average building unit must be valued at under $40,000 to qualify for the abatement, condominiums and cooperatives qualify under the program.

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