Are green roofs the next big thing after solar? Just like solar panels have become more commonplace through a combination of advances in technology, government regulations & incentives, and growing awareness, now green roofs are attracting more interest and appearing on more rooftops.
In the United States, a variety of incentives at the local, state, and federal levels exist for green roofs, and they are increasing. Here in New York, the state recently expanded its green roof tax abatement program, and New York City’s recent Climate Mobilization Act requires many new buildings to have solar panels, green roofs, or both.
Understanding Green Roofs
But what makes a green roof great? And how do we account for all of their benefits?
Besides transforming roofs into inviting spaces, green roofs are vital pieces of green infrastructure that reduce the urban heat island effect and decrease the amount of stormwater that flows into sewer systems. For building owners, one of the best benefits is that green roofs can sharply reduce the heating and cooling costs of buildings since they provide additional insulation and protection against extreme temperatures.
Newtown Creek Alliance is working to better understand green roofs and best practices for maintaining them. They manage Kingsland Wildflowers, a beautiful set of green roofs in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with stellar views of the Manhattan skyline.
Working with Temboo, NCA has installed a network of soil sensors across their green roofs that will monitor the health of their plantings and enable them to see when and how often they need water. By comparing sensor readings with in-person observations and local weather data, NCA will learn how best to maintain their green roofs and be able to share those learnings through its education and outreach programs.
Let’s take a look!
Now that the network of soil sensors is up and running, Newtown Creek Alliance is collecting and analyzing the data as well as sharing it with the community and research partners. They are also planning on incorporating this data into the educational curricula they are designing.
As the summer progresses, NCA will be gathering insights from the soil sensors, combining that data with rainfall & other relevant weather data, and learning as much as they can about their green roofs. A big goal is to use this data for green roof advocacy more generally and for teaching more people about their benefits.
Stay tuned for what NCA and Temboo uncover.