Monday, June 30, 2008

Tax Credits For Green Rooftops In NYC
June 29, 2008
Tax Credits For Green Rooftops In NYC

green_roof.jpgBuilding owners in New York City who install green rooftops on at least 50 percent of available rooftop space can apply for a one-year property tax credit of up to $100,000, Storm Water Infrastructure Matters (SWIM) reports.

Under a new bill passed by the New York legislature, the credit would be equal to $4.50 per square-foot of roof area that is planted with vegetation, or approximately 25 percent of the typical costs associated with the materials, labor, installation and design of the green roof.

Building owners can apply for the credit starting Jan. 1, 2009, under the pilot program that will expire after March 15, 2013, unless it is extended.

According to SWIM, the environmental benefits of the legislation are measurable. Each 10,000 square foot green roof, for instance, can capture between 6,000 and 12,000 gallons of water in each storm event, the evaporation of which will produce the equivalent of between a thousand and two thousand tons of air conditioning — enough heat removal to noticeably cool 10 acres of the city, SWIM says.

Green roofs are taking root in other areas too. The green roof industry in Germany is now annually worth $77 million, CNN reports.

Green roofs at the Metro-North Railroad’s Harmon Yard Support Shop, the MTA Bus Far Rockaway Depot, and the B&T Queens Midtown Tunnel Service Building Annex; and a white roof at the LIRR Hillside facility were among interim recommendations released by the Commission on Sustainability formed last summer to create a plan for reducing the agency’s ecological footprint by Earth Day 2008.

Green roofs are also catching on with businesses and organizations, from banks to libraries.
State legislature approves tax breaks for rooftop gardens

Monday, June 30th 2008, 3:45 PM
James Chase, communications director of Sustainable South Bronx, installed a green roof at his home. Zalcman for News

James Chase, communications director of Sustainable South Bronx, installed a green roof at his home.

State lawmakers have approved a bill to give tax breaks to homeowners who install "green roofs" - gardens atop buildings.

The credit of $4.50 per square foot, approved last Monday, is about a quarter of the cost of a typical green roof.

"The biggest barrier to a green roof is upfront cost," said Rob Crauderueff, director of sustainable policy at the nonprofit group Sustainable South Bronx. "They typically cost $15 to $20 per square foot."

"It's long overdue," said Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr. (D-Bronx), who sponsored the bill. "This is a great step forward to ultimately combat our greatest problem - global warming."

Green rooftops lower energy costs, decrease runoff into sewerage systems and reduce respiratory problems, Crauderueff said.

The immediate benefit for homeowners and tenants is more greenbacks in their wallets.

"A typical building would save between 10% and 20% on air conditioning costs," he said. "It's nature's version of AC."

Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) also applauded the tax breaks.

"This will get the ball rolling," he said. "Before the legislation, there were questions - 'Is this legal? How do we go about it?' Now that the legislation is passed, the questions have been answered."

Supporters said the legislation will also help spin off local "green" jobs.

"If you make an investment in the environment, you make an investment in the community," said James Chase, who created a green rooftop for his home in the South Bronx in October.

"The green roof looks pretty, but that's not its value. This is a great way to support life in New York City. It provides people a job with benefits and health insurance," said Chase, who is also director of communications at Sustainable South Bronx.

James Wells, a graduate of a training program sponsored by the nonprofit group, now installs and maintains rooftop gardens for SmartRoofs, a company that specializes in them.

"I had just come out of 10 years of prison and faced a lot of discrimination in employment. This was my last hope," Wells said. "It can help take people out of poverty."

The new tax incentive - akin to a popular solar panel rebate program in New Jersey - could be the tipping point for many homeowners, Chase said.

"It's not high-tech, it's green-tech," Chase said of the difference between solar panels and green roofs. "This abatement will be the push people need to say, 'Alright, I'm going to do it.'"

No comments: