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green roof events


Green roof updates

September 2022
The State of Green Roofs 2022

The theme of this year's State of Green Roofs is action. How do we make positive change on green roofs and what changes are under way? This conference is designed to engage everyone, from the general public to industry specialists, architects, and scientists. Highlights include open discussion across disciplines, tours of the Javits green roof, and action-oriented workshops. Learn about green roof biodiversity, environmental benefits, and NYC policy.

  • Meet leading green roof scientists, students who have benefited from green roofs, and leaders in NYC green roof development.

  • Find out about new scientific discoveries, state-of-the-art green roofs, and how to make local change through legislation!

  • View an exhibit of David Kutz's green roof photograph series, "The Machine in the Garden."

The State of Green Roofs 2022 is a part of The Nest Summit Campus, which brings together like-minded organizations and individuals to educate, inspire, and spark climate action among businesses, government officials, academia, NGOs, and consumers. The Nest Summit Campus is an official event partner of Climate Week NYC.

Registration for the State of Green Roofs is free but required. 

green roof spotlight

The Lotus Garden, one of the first green roof gardens in NYC was created 38 years ago when the developer of The Columbia, a massive condominium at 96th and Broadway, agreed to create a garden on top of an about-to-be-built parking garage to accommodate community gardeners who had planted the site when it was derelict.

Why are so many birds dying in new york city? 

Because of research programs like our own Project Safe Flight, we now understand that up to one billion birds are killed in collisions with glass across the U.S. each year. As the conservation community has come to grasp the gravity of this threat to birds over recent decades, architects and design professionals have responded to the growing call for bird-friendly design. 


Today there are solutions available that make glass visible to birds, options for bird-friendly construction materials, and a multitude of ways to design buildings to minimize their risk of harming birds. The glass facades of modern office buildings are not only dangerous to birds; they can also dramatically increase energy consumption for heating and cooling. As a result, bird-friendly design elements are now often considered an integral part of sustainable design.


The theme of this year's State of Green Roofs is action. How do we make positive change on green roofs, and what changes are underway? This conference is designed to engage everyone, from the general public to industry specialists, architects, and scientists. Highlights include open discussion across disciplines, tours of the Javits green roof, and action-oriented workshops. Learn about green roof biodiversity, environmental benefits, and NYC policy.

Registration for the State of Green Roofs is free but required.

Registration for the State of Green Roofs allows you access to the full Nest Summit Campus on September 22. To attend the Nest Summit on September 21, register here. For the full Campus agenda, visit here.

New in Research

Examining the distribution of green roofs in New York City through a lens of social, ecological, and technological filters - published in Ecology and Society.


In 2018 the team at The Nature Conservancy, in collaboration with Timon McPhearson (The New School), Eric Sanderson (Wildlife Conservation Society), and Greg Yetman (Columbia University), released a dataset representing our best approximation of the green roofs in NYC as of 2016. 

We finally have an associated peer-reviewed paper out about the work, which offers insights into some of the dynamics of where green roofs were in the City at that point, and potential drivers and implications of their distribution:

The paper is available at It’s also part of a special issue on Blue and Green Infrastructure, which might be of interest to this group – see here)

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essential reads

Last spring, the New York City Council passed an ambitious climate legislation package focused on buildings, which are responsible for almost three-quarters of all local emissions. 

GRRA members Dustin R. Partridge and Danielle Spiegel-Feld sit down with Urban Omnibus to clarify what New York’s new climate laws can mean for city residents, building owners, and birds.

New green roofs video

The Newtown Creek Alliance in partnership with Kingsland Wildflowers produced a stunning video called Green Roofs Explained. This funding for this film was provided by the Green Roofs Researchers Alliance through a grant from the New York Community Trust

Featured site: 
city lights

This 16,000sf green roof amenity space serves a residential building with over 500 tenants. The green roof meadow is composed of a mix of flowering and herbaceous native plants that beautify the space while also serving as an ecological support system for local and migratory insects and birds.

New in Research

Rebuild by Design asked 20 experts, including #GRRA members Timon McPhearson and Danielle Spiegel-Feld to offer "Concrete ideas of policies and projects that protect our communities from the flash flooding and loss of life which we experienced from Hurricane Ida."

Green roofs explained

  • What is the DEP Green Infrastructure Grant?
    The Green Infrastructure Grant has helped fund over 30 green roofs since its inception in 2011. This grant program, funded by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), is an incentive for private property owners to retrofit their NYC rooftops with green roofs.
  • What are the Green Infrastructure Grant eligibility requirements?
    As of 2019, a green roof retrofit must be 3,500 square feet, have a minimum of 1.5 inch soil depth, and manage at least 1 inch of rainfall. Visit the DEP’s website for the most up-to-date eligibility requirements.
  • What will the grant cover?
    Funding is for the design and construction of green roof retrofits on private property. The amount is determined by the green roof area (GRA) and soil depth. The grant will reimburse $10 to $30 per square foot for an eligible green roof.
  • What are the steps to submit an application?
    Private property owners within New York City's five boroughs are encouraged to apply for the Green Infrastructure Grant. Prior to submitting an application, schedule a preliminary meeting with a DEP representative to ensure the project is viable and to discuss timelines. Be prepared to review the structural integrity of the roof, the project size, and which sewer drainage area the building is in, as these are essential for the project to move forward.
  • What else should I know before considering an application?
    Property owners must execute a funding agreement with the DEP. Included in the funding agreement is a Declaration of Restrictive Covenant, which requires the property owner to commit to maintaining the green roof for at least 20 years. The funding agreement and the Declaration are available on the DEP’s website and should be reviewed by the property owner and their legal counsel prior to submitting an application.
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Benefits of Green Roofs


Improves Air Quality

Green roof technology can cut carbon and reduce air pollutants such as nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, and ozone. In addition, green roofs remove harmful fine particulate matter in the surrounding air.

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Extends Roof Longevity

By protecting roof structures from weathering and degradation, green roofs decrease the cost of repairs and maintenance. Green roofs last up to twice as long as conventional roofs.

Green Roofs

Increases Property Value & Decreases Tennant Turnover

Residential and commercial properties with green roofs have higher property values, lower tenant turnover, and lower energy costs. These advantages mitigate the initial high cost of green roof installation.


Increases Energy Efficienciency

Because of their insulating effect, green roofs can increase energy efficiency by reducing energy costs year-round and prolong the life of heating, ventilation, and HVAC systems. Calculate green roof energy savings here and learn how to make your building more energy-efficient.

Friends Relaxing on Grass

By providing outdoor space where people can socialize, garden, play, and relax, green roofs, like parks, may improve overall health and well-being. Green roofs are an important source of green space in dense cities. In addition, research has found that office workers are 2.9% more productive when the view out of their office windows includes vegetation.


Lowers Urban Temperatures

Green roofs can insulate buildings, making them cooler in summer and warmer in winter. An increase of green area decreases ambient air temperature and helps mitigate the urban heat island effect.


Retains Stormwater

Green roofs can retain more than half of annual precipitation, with performance dependent on the local microclimate, precipitation characteristics, growing media depth, and vegetation type. Stormwater retained by green roofs reduces the volume of runoff discharged to separate or combined sewer systems, helping to keep our waterways clean.

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Provides Needed Habitat and Increases Urban Biodiversity

Amid urban infrastructure, green roofs provide much-needed habitats on otherwise unutilized space. They act as connectors for many species, including birds, bees, bats, and insects, to move from one urban green space to another.


Reduces Noise &

Increases Insulation

Green roofs can reduce internal and external sounds by nearly 40 decibels. The soil substrate and plants absorb sound, unlike a conventional roof that simply reflects it.

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