Distribution of green roofs in New York

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The Nature Conservancy is pleased to announce the publication of Examining the distribution of green roofs in New York through a lens of social, ecological and technological filters in the peer-reviewed journal Ecology and Society. Co-authored with researchers from The New School, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Columbia University, the article describes the development of a publicly available dataset of green roofs in New York City, as well as information about the potential factors of their location and what distribution could mean for the benefits they may offer. Put in context with existing city data, such as heat vulnerability and combined sewer overflows, this dataset can inform green roof planning and policy in New York City.

Green roofs are a nature-based solution that can help the city adapt to a changing climate with rising temperatures and more frequent and intense rainfall. Yet research finds that in 2016, green roofs were rare in New York City, present on less than 0.1% of buildings – mostly in Midtown and Midtown Manhattan, with little or none in the most other areas of the city.

Dr. Mike Treglia, Principal Scientist of The Cities Team at The Nature Conservancy in New York “This effort has established the first dataset of green roofs in New York City, which is a critical step in being able to understand where their benefits are offered and to track changes over time. This information, along with information about the types of buildings on which we see green roofs, such as public or private, is ultimately invaluable in working with policymakers, advocates and researchers to develop green roofs, especially in areas where they are most needed. ”

“If we are to achieve our goals of climate adaptation, sustainability and equity, we need to invest more in our green roofs alongside other green spaces.” said Dr. Timon McPhearson, Director of the Urban Systems Laboratory at The New School. “The unmet opportunity to transform flat roof space in New York City is vast. Mobilizing the city’s resources to expand green roofs, especially in underserved neighborhoods, could go a long way in cooling the city, improving resilience to stormwater and to provide new recreational spaces.

“Once upon a time, the New York City skyline was entirely green, composed of a near-continuous forest canopy that stretched from river to sea across the city’s archipelago.” said Dr. Eric W. Sanderson, Senior Conservation Ecologist, Wildlife Conservation Society. “While this document shows that we are a long way from the verdant, water-absorbing, biodiverse, verdant embrace of the past, there is a need to understand where we are and what we can do next to develop a brighter future. green and more resilient.”

“We pursued this research because the New York City skyline, comprised of approximately 40,000 acres spread over one million buildings, presents a tremendous opportunity.” said Emily Nobel Maxwell, director of The Nature Conservancy Cities Team in New York. “What lies on the surface of this vast expanse significantly affects our city and all who live, work and visit here. It can either mitigate or exacerbate the urban heat island effect and local flooding. Prior to this research, there was no clear picture of the extent of green roofs in New York. Now we can advance the use of this underutilized form of green infrastructure and do so in a way that promotes fairness and justice.

Various types of policies can support increased green roof installations. As New York City implements Local Laws 92 and 94 of 2019 and offers incentives such as a property tax abatement that can support the installation of more green roofs, data on their distribution is critical. to inform future efforts.

The Nature Conservancy collaborated with other members of the New York City Green Roof Researchers Alliance, convened by NYC Audubon, to develop the dataset and write the paper. The dataset is publicly available and the methods used to develop it, documented in the document, can be transferred to various other cities, nationally and internationally, to establish a similar understanding of green roofs elsewhere. An updated dataset on green roofs in New York is currently under development by The Nature Conservancy. When available, it will help understand how the distribution of green roofs in New York has changed since 2016.

The Urban Systems Laboratory (USL) at the new school is an interdisciplinary space for research, design and practice at The New School that provides knowledge and analysis to develop more equitable, resilient and sustainable cities. USL’s work advances cutting-edge science, data visualization, and computation to develop systemic solutions to social and environmental challenges that drive inequality and injustice in urban areas. We bring together designers, urban ecologists, scientists, researchers and policymakers with the aim of improving the lives of the most vulnerable people and improving decision-making and science communication at scales from local to global.

To learn more, visit www.newschool.edu or follow @thenewschool on Twitter.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) saves wildlife and wild places around the world through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To accomplish our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its global conservation program in nearly 60 countries and in every ocean of the world and its five animal parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people each year. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission.

To learn more, visit newsroom.wcs.org or follow @WCSNewsroom on Twitter.

The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) is a Columbia Climate School transdisciplinary research and data center that develops, hosts, and distributes data on human interactions with the environment, environmental change, and social impacts. We also produce mapping tools and services to integrate and visualize data in new ways to improve possibilities for understanding and contribute to new applications – by the research community, policy makers and the general public.

To learn more, visit www.climate.columbia.edu or follow @colombiaclimate on Twitter.

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