NYC Green Roof Tax Abatement
Last week’s blog entry on the status of the New York City Green Roof Tax Abatement was pulled from the blog on Friday, March 6th when it came to our attention that there were some inaccuracies stated within it. The text where the inaccuracies lay was in the following paragraph:
“The initiative is however under threat as the abatement has been significantly reduced, in the initial draft that the city has formulated. Originally, the money returned to a green roof investor would cover approximately 35% of the project cost. That was with a $4.50 per square foot abatement. The draft released recently (and discussed at a public hearing on Tuesday) will allow for only a $1 abatement, which comes to covering the cost of about 5% of the green roof.”
As a correction, the initiative is not at all under threat, regardless of NYC’s economic situation which was later alluded to as a potential reason for the alleged reduction. On the contrary, the city is bound by law to provide a tax abatement of $4.50 per square foot, not $1.00 which was incorrectly published. The $4.50 represents 35% of the average cost differential between a standard roof and a green roof.
The numbers stated within the initial blog entry reflected additional costs that might be encountered, out of necessity, to comply with existing building codes, permit acquisitions, plant type restrictions, etc. The job of the Department of Buildings (DOB) is first and foremost to ensure building safety and enforcement of rules, while at the same time balancing the need to streamline processes. And when new technologies, generally out of the usual purview of building codes—such as green roofs—are introduced, there will certainly be a learning curve. This is the first time that rules related to plants and horticulture are being addressed by the DOB, en masse. Therefore, the public review process actually served to help the city learn about industry best practices and public comments were taken into account for the final rules.
Rob Crauderueff, Policy Analyst at Sustainable South Bronx, who was also mentioned in the initial blog entry, maintains that green roof implementation will remain cost prohibitive for some interested parties. He feels that additional cost burdens, in the form of permit acquisitions and other components of the application process will, in everyday reality mean that a $4.50 per square abatement will in effect turn into a lower $1.00 per square foot abatement. This $1.00 reflects an estimate of the average costs of other related processes. Crauderueff says that while the abatement remains the same, the value of it decreases.
This conundrum provides another insight into how difficult the task of urban sustainability adaptation can be at times. “Part of the challenge of implementing progressively minded building reform is that it has to work within the existing constraints of building protocol and legal responsibilities,” said CISC Director Bill Solecki.
The Sustainable Cities blog apologizes to the Department of Buildings of the City of New York and to the public for inaccurately stating the terms of the Green Roof Tax Abatement. We have made every effort to verify the facts and create a more informed and precise account of the situation. We hope to bring you further (accurate) information on the Green Roof Tax Abatement as it advances. Clearly, it is not as simple as making a roof green, for better or for worse. But the initiative is signed, almost sealed, and eventually will be delivered, which is laudable in itself. To view the legislation, click here.