Jun 25, 2008

New York City Green Roof Buildings to Earn Tax Credit

Recently passed bill offers eligible owners a one-year credit of up to $100,000

Building owners in New York City who install green rooftops will now receive a significant tax credit under a bill (A.11226) sponsored by Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr. that has passed the state legislature. Under this law, building owners in New York City who install green roofs on at least 50 percent of available rooftop space can apply for a one-year property tax credit of up to $100,000. The credit would be equal to $4.50 per square foot of roof area that is planted with vegetation, or approximately 25 percent of the typical costs associated with the materials, labor, installation and design of the green roof.The legislation was championed by the Storm Water Infrastructure Matters (S.W.I.M.) Coalition, comprised of more than 50 city, state and national organizations dedicated to ensuring fishable and swimmable waters around New York through natural, sustainable storm water management practices. The S.W.I.M. Coalition, building off of its recent success in the passage of New York City Local Law 5, advocated for the passage of this green roof tax abatement. Advocacy included working with Assembly Member Diaz, Jr. to sponsor the bill and meeting with key elected officials in Albany, N.Y., in May to recommend that it be passed this session."This tax abatement will act as an economic stimulus by creating living wage green-collar jobs that are pathways out of poverty," said Rob Crauderueff, director of sustainable policy at Sustainable South Bronx and chair of the S.W.I.M. policy committee."Green rooftops can save New York City residents more than $5 million in energy cooling costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce overflows of raw sewage by easing pressure on the city's overburdened sewer system, which will help to achieve swimmable and fishable waterways in neighborhoods throughout New York City," said Larry Levine, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.Green roofs also address New York's environmental justice problems, according to Kate Zidar, senior environmental planner of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice. "Green roofs reduce costly environmental burdens, such as poor air quality and sewage treatment processing, in communities throughout New York City, especially environmental justice communities that host more than their share of environmental burdens."The benefits of green roofs are measurable, according to Dr. Paul S. Mankiewicz, Gaia Institute executive director and board member of the New York City Soil & Water Conservation District. "Each 10,000-sq-ft green roof can capture between 6,000 and 12,000 gal of water in each storm event. This is rainfall that will never enter the combined sewer. At the same time, the evaporation of this rainfall will produce the equivalent of between 1,000 and 2,000 tons of air conditioning--enough heat removal to noticeably cool 10 acres of the city. This is a management practice that increases biodiversity and can literally add enjoyable landscape to all the boroughs of New York".Riverkeeper Chief Investigator Basil Seggos added, "By incentivizing green roof construction, this legislation will enable New York City to become greener, cleaner and more energy efficient. And our waterways will benefit from smaller volumes of raw sewage as a result."This green roof incentive builds off of the success of a greening initiative in the Bronx. Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. said, "My Bronx Initiative for Energy and the Environment has funded 15 green roofs on nonprofits in the Bronx ... This tax abatement will put green roof technology financially in reach of New York City businesses."Building owners will be able to apply for the credit starting Jan. 1, 2009. This is a pilot program that will expire after March 15, 2013, unless it is extended.