What do you need to know?

The recently passed Climate Mobilization Act includes initiatives and mandates that aim to turn New York City’s rooftops green – literally and figuratively. These new laws will make New York City among the most sustainable skylines in the world.  Read below to find out what you need to know about the Climate Mobilization Act legislation, as well as other existing incentive programs for green roofs in New York City.


Climate Mobilization Act

What is it?

Passed on April 18, 2019 by the New York City Council, the Climate Mobilization Act aims to reduce New York City’s carbon emissions 40% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Over 70% of New York City greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings. Therefore, a major focus of the Climate Mobilization Act is regulating building carbon footprints, and a large part of the legislation deals with new green roof requirements. The Climate Mobilization Act contains eleven pieces of legislation, but the primary focus below is on the carbon emissions regulations under Local Law 97, and the green roof and solar requirements under Local Laws 92 & 94.

Which buildings are affected?

Local Law 97 breaks buildings into two separate categories: buildings with total floor space greater than 25,000 square feet and those with less than 25,000 square feet. Starting in 2024, the larger category of buildings will be subject to limits on carbon emissions. Those limits will become more stringent in 2029. Buildings that exceed the emissions limits will be fined. Buildings with less than 25,000 square feet in floor space will not have emissions caps placed on them, but are subject to new regulations on roof coverings.

Are all buildings required to have green roofs?

While the details of Local Laws 92 & 94 are getting ironed out, we understand that all new building projects and all major roof construction projects on both new and old buildings will be required to install either a green roof or solar panels on 100% of usable roof space. However, there are a number of exceptions. If you cannot install solar pv due to shading or roof obstructions, you can install a green roof.  If you are unable to install a green roof, you can install solar pv.

What other conditions exempt buildings from needing green roofs or solar panels?

  1. Areas required to be set aside for access or setbacks by the NYC Fire Code, the NYC Construction Code, or the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York.
  2. If a roof has a slope greater than 17%, the building is not required to install a green roof.
  3. Areas occupied by rooftop structures such as mechanical equipment or guardrails do not need to have green roof or solar.
  4. Any obstructions related to stormwater management practices installed to comply with permits issues by the Department of Environmental Protection.
  5. If the surface is an isolated terrace or setback that covers less than 25% of the footprint of the building.
  6. Any recreational space that is principal to the use of the building.
  7. A section of the roof with a slope greater than 17% that would also not accommodate solar panels capable of generating 4kW.
  8. Areas where the department determines that conditions are unfavorable to either solar panels or a green roof. One possible reason that an otherwise flat, unoccupied roof would be unfavorable to a green roof installation is if it is completely shaded by other buildings.

The following building categories are exempt for the next 5 years as the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) studies the impact of compliance with the law on affordable housing:

  1. Some buildings with one or more affordable housing units.
  2. Buildings subject to HPD’s alternative enforcement program.
  3. Buildings owned by the HPD.

Where to get more information?

There are questions about how these regulations will be implemented. We will update this page as more information is available. Information is also available at the NYC City Council’s Climate Mobilization Act Page, though at present this page is more focused on details about the city’s existing carbon emissions than coming regulations.

Additional reading:

  1. Smart Cities Dive: “NYC passes sweeping ‘Climate Mobilization Act‘”
  2. Building Energy Exchange: Climate Mobilization Act Series including “Navigating New York City’s Sustainable Roof Requirements


DEP Green Infrastructure Grant Program

What is it?

The NYC DEP (New York City Department of Environmental Protection) Green Infrastructure Grant Program reimburses private building owners up to 100% of the cost of installing a green roof on their property. The goal of the program is to reduce sewage runoff into our city’s waterways. New York City operates on an outdated combined-sewage overflow system – the rain grates on our streets flow into the same system that transports our sewage. During heavy rain events, the system quickly reaches capacity, spilling raw sewage into our local waterways. As population growth has strained the city’s stormwater infrastructure and heavy rains have increased, sewage overflow has become a regular occurrence in the city. By funding green roofs capable of absorbing rainwater before it flows off buildings the DEP is aiming to reduce sewage overflow.

What will it fund?

To be eligible for reimbursement the green roof must cover a minimum of 3,500 square feet, have a total project cost of over $35,000, and manage at least 1″ of rainfall.

Where to get more information?

Highview Creations has been awarded numerous DEP GIGP projects, including the Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn and the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. We are tremendously enthusiastic about the DEP grant and always happy to investigate and discuss the feasibility of projects.

As always, reach out to us for more info!


NY Green Roof Tax Abatement

What is it?

The NYC Tax Abatement Program provides a one-time tax abatement of between $5.23 – $15.00 per square foot of green roof up to either $200,000 or the tax liability for the building. The abatement is for buildings in specific priority neighborhoods, as to be determined by a mayor-appointed agency. To qualify the tax abatement, the green roof must cover at least 50% of the eligible roofing area, have at least 4″of soil, and be covered with at least 80% live plant material (as opposed to mulch or another covering).

This tax abatement currently runs through 2024. Unfortunately, it cannot be combined with the DEP grant discussed above. However, for projects in which the DEP grant does not make sense the tax credit is an excellent alternative path.

Where can I learn more?

We are always happy to answer any questions about the process or necessary steps to qualify.

Additional reading:

  1. AM New York: “Tax incentive designed to create more green roofs expanded
  2. Full-text of Bill A4740A from the NY State Senate