Unlocking the Power of New York City's Roofs
New local laws require green roofs and solar panels to help make the city's buildings more sustainable in the face of climate change.
Two laws in New York City’s recent Climate Mobilization Act will transform the city’s rooftops in the years ahead. Together with Urban Green Council, The Nature Conservancy has released the Sustainable Roof Laws Policy Brief, a helpful guide to Local Laws 92 and 94 and the power they give to rooftops across the city.
These new laws require green roofs or solar panels where feasible on all new construction and major roof renovations. Called a sustainable roofing zone, these features will help to reduce the city’s carbon emissions and help mitigate the harmful effects of our climate changing while improving quality of life and providing space for biodiversity.
The rooftops of New York City’s more than one million buildings cover roughly 40,000 acres. That’s an incredible amount of space that can be used to help people and nature thrive, yet it is highly underutilized.
Green roofs can lessen the negative impacts of stormwater on local waterways, reduce street flooding, improve air quality and lower temperatures during summer months, among many other benefits. Rooftops with solar panels generate carbon-free, renewable energy that relieves strain on the local electricity grid. In some cases, green roofs and solar panels can be installed together, offering all of these benefits at once.
What We Are Doing
Working together with the Green Roof Researchers Alliance, we have released the most comprehensive estimate of green roofs in New York City. These mapping efforts show there is significant opportunity to expand this resource, particularly in parts of the city that are most impacted by challenges like the urban heat island effect.
Through strong partnerships in New York City and beyond, we’re unlocking more of the benefits of urban areas for people and nature. Together with your support, we are making the green cities of tomorrow resilient, healthy and equitable.