Angely Mercado

Council Member Rafael Espinal held a press conference to announce a package of legislation aimed at expanding green roofs earlier this week.  

He announced it alongside Council Members Donovan Richards and Steve Levin as they stood on a roof in Williamsburg and explained that they wanted New York to lead the charge towards urban sustainability. 

“The time to fight climate change is now,” said NYC Council Member Rafael Espinal. “By greening every single rooftop in New York City, we will make a strong commitment to doing our part to protect the planet. In the most famous landscape in the world, New York City could turn our concrete jungle into a green oasis.”

Green roofs are roofs that are covered or partially covered with growing plants and a growing medium on top of a waterproof membrane. This decreases water runoff which can also stop future flooding and water pollution. Given enough space, green roofs can also be used for urban farming, giving more communities access to local produce. 

They’re also a smart investment for building owners. Having greenery on a rooftop adds insulation to the buildings which traps much needed heat during the winter, and lowers the building’s temperature during the summer.   

The package of legislation sponsored by Espinal would also require certain roofs to cover “all available space with a green roof system, solar panels, small wind turbines, or a combination of all three” according to a press release from the Council Member’s office. 

“New York City must be leveraging every opportunity possible to reduce our carbon footprint and our rooftops represent prime real estate for that very goal,” said Council Member Richards. “Installing solar panels or green roofs on every roof possible would be a major boost for our environment, long term quality jobs, and even save businesses and property owners thousands of dollars in energy costs.”

Neighborhoods like Bushwick are constantly seeing new building development, which could increase the chance of more green roofs throughout the area. 

Anastasia Plakias, the founder of Brooklyn Grange, a Greenpoint based rooftop farm sees the legislation as a way to foster “social, economic and environmental benefits” for city residents. 

“We are excited that Council Members Espinal, Levin, and Richards are in advocating for the implementation of green roofs as a means to a more livable and resilient New York City,” she said. 

Cover photo courtesy of Council Member Rafael Espinal’s office. 

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