State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

, ,

Opening the Door to More Rooftop Farming?

Suitable rooftops (blue and yellow) could provide some 3,200 acres. (Graphic: Urban Design Lab)
Suitable rooftops (blue and yellow) could provide some 3,200 acres. (Graphic: Urban Design Lab)

The New York City Department of City Planning has proposed changes in zoning rules to make it easier to construct and retrofit buildings for energy efficiency – including a provision on rooftop greenhouses.

The zoning law amendments propose a number of new rules to encourage more energy efficient building practices. These include exemptions to building size and height restrictions, with limits, to allow:

= Building rooftop greenhouses on non-residential buildings, up to 25 feet in height.

= Installing wind turbines, both on roofs up to 55 feet above the rooftop, and freestanding ones in commercial and manufacturing areas on waterfront blocks.

= Adding solar panels to roofs, and solar control devices – such as awnings or slatted screens – to reduce the need for air conditioning.

= Installing green roofs, recreational decks, stormwater retention systems and skylights.

= Expanding external wall insulation to existing buildings.

A recent study by the Urban Design Lab at Columbia University outlined the potential for expanding green roof capacity in New York City. That study identified some 3,200 acres of commercial, industrial and public building roofs as having potential for farming – given necessary changes in the city’s building codes. The Urban Design Lab is a joint laboratory of the Earth Institute and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

The proposal is one of a series of efforts by the city to promote environmentally sustainable practices. Other recent initiatives include transit-oriented development, alternatives to automobile use, better access to healthy, fresh foods, better stormwater management, planting trees and adding other green spaces to the streetscape.

Links for more on the story:

The zoning proposal is currently under public review. For details, go to the New York City Department of Planning website.

A story in L Magazine about the proposal.

A story on the website Inhabitat NYC, devoted to green design, architecture and innovation in New York City.

The Urban Design Lab study: The Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kevin Lydon
12 years ago

On some of the taller buildings wind turbines are going to create a good chunk of energy as the wind is much faster there.

I went to SUNY and remember going up to the top of buildings and feeling the crazy wind. Now I currently live in Calgary Alberta very close to some huge wind farms and the wind is just out of this world.

This is super awesome that In New York they furthering and actively making a way to a greener future.

Great post!

12 years ago

[…] State of the Planet provides a simplified breakdown of the proposals here. […]

12 years ago

[…] and implement renewable technology. You can download the whole report here and read more at the State of the Planetblog. […]

Chiropractor Ottawa
7 years ago

Do you have any video of that? I’d love to find out some additional information.