This Brooklyn Company Is Here To Make NYC Rooftops Greener

Green roofs have been around for thousands of years and modern technology has not only perfected them but made it possible for them to function anywhere from houses to skyscrapers. Some of these gardens can even pay for themselves.


May 14 2019, Updated 5:06 p.m. ET

Green rooftops are a hit in recent years. First becoming popular in Europe, particularly in Germany, they have gained traction throughout the world. Today, you can find green rooftops on the buildings of major companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Google. Even major landmarks such as Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building sport green roofs. 

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Companies like Brooklyn Greenroof  in NYC are dedicated to making our roofs greener than ever. Company founder, Inger Yancey, created Brooklyn Greenroof and knows a thing or two about the benefits of sky high greenery. Apart from running her company, Yancey teaches Environmental Sustainability at Pratt Institute and has spoken at events such as the Southeast New York Stormwater Conference. 

With over 30 years of sustainable architecture experience under her belt, Yancey is a green roof pro who helps companies and individuals design and build the perfect green roof for their needs. But how does it work? And why would anyone want to put one on their place? 

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Green roofs are essentially a layer of drought tolerant plants rooted in lightweight soil with a special irrigation on top of a building. To set one up, a designer like Yancey helps  design a green roof that will fit a certain structure, climate and specific needs. After a week or two of installation, a new garden will be set up. To keep it going, drip irrigation or manual watering are two ways to keep the plants happy and alive.  

Apart from a pretty rooftop area, there are plenty of other advantages to having a green roof. For years, Europeans have taken advantage of green roofs for a range of benefits and other countries are catching on. The integrity of roofs last longer when they have a green roofs on top of it because they are protected from strong sun. These gardens also create a waterproof layer that significantly extends the life of a roof. 

Plan to see lower energy bills since your rooftop garden will also help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in summer. Not planning to stay the same place for long? Green roofs also increase property value by 10 percent to 15 percent since they provide an extra amenity area, so you may have an easier time selling the property thanks to your new plants.  

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If you need another type of green motivation, some municipalities offer green roof tax abatements that can help offset the financial investment for installation. In NYC, building owners can get a one year tax abatement of around $4.50 per square foot. Apart from personal benefits, green roofs are also great for the environment. These gardens help create biodiversity of birds, butterflies and other creatures in your neighborhood. On top of that, plants absorb Co2, help reduce urban heat island effect, and keep rain out of the sewer system by taking stormwater runoff

To get started on your roof, reach out to a green roof professional and get feedback on what you can do in your space. Depending on where you live, be prepared to doll out about $15 to $40 a square foot depending on the size of your garden. If you qualify for a green infrastructure grant, it could pay for a good portion of installing the green roof and remember to ask your designer to request for a tax credit on your behalf.  

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