Green Roofs & Solar Panels

 

With more than 1.6 billion square feet of rooftops in New York City, green roofs and solar panels can help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Installing a green roof or solar panel may add substantial weight to your roof. Hire skilled and licensed professionals for installation. Tax incentives are available for making these improvements.

 

Green Roofs

Green roofs have vegetation that absorbs rainwater, provides insulation and combats the heat island effect, where urban environments can be warmer than surrounding areas.


Tax Abatement Eligibility

A green roof's design must meet specific requirements to be eligible for property tax abatement. For example, it must have a layer of vegetation covering 50% of the rooftop. Sedum, or drought-resistant, live plants, must be spaced to cover at least 80% of this planted layer. Plus, a New York State licensed professional engineer (P.E.), New York State registered architect (R.A.), New York State licensed and registered landscape architect or horticulturist must prepare a four-year maintenance plan.


Installation

A green roof will add substantial weight to a building, so property owners must hire a P.E. or R.A. to perform a structural analysis. This will determine if the existing roof and its support system can hold the added load without modification. When filing the construction permit application, the P.E. or R.A. must certify specific technical elements, submit the structural analysis, confirm that the existing roof will be able to support the green roof when saturated and possibly provide additional drawings, calculations and construction documents. Within 15 days before the last day of the compliance period (the tax year in which the abatement is taken), the P.E., R.A. or landscape architect must inspect the green roof to certify continued compliance with New York State law and the Department's implementation rule.

 

Solar Panels

Solar power is a reliable, renewable source of electricity that reduces demand on New York City's electrical grid. Solar panels generate electricity, recover thermal energy for reuse and act as a roof covering. They can dramatically reduce a property owner's electric demand – and energy bills. Some property owners may also receive rebates from their utility company.


Tax Abatement Programs

The Department's sustainability experts guide building owners through the construction application process to install solar panels and green roofs. They also assist with properly completing the required documents and help applicants meet key tax abatement deadlines.

Email your questions to the sustainability team at GreenRoofAndSolar@buildings.nyc.gov. For detailed information on tax abatements, visit our Sustainability section of the website.


Installation

When installing these panels, property owners must hire a P.E. or R.A. to perform a structural analysis that will determine if the existing roof and its support system can hold the added load without being modified. When filing the construction permit application, the P.E. or R.A. must certify specific technical elements, submit a structural analysis of the building, confirm that the existing roof will be able to support the added equipment and possibly provide additional drawings, calculations and construction documents. An electrical work permit, filed by a Department licensed electrician, must be obtained for any electrical work. The P.E. or R.A. must also perform a final inspection of the solar panel installation to confirm that it meets the safety standards outlined in the NYC Construction Codes.