Moves Aim for Greener Rooftops in NYC, Nationwide

Between the New York City tax credit bill that passed yesterday and an announcement of a strategic alliance between GE Energy and GAF Materials Corp. to develop solar roofing systems, commercial and residential customers alike now have sweeter incentives to green their rooftops. Building owners in New York City who install green rooftops will now receive a significant tax credit. Under this new law, those who install green roofs on at least 50 percent of available rooftop space can apply for a one-year property tax credit of up to $100,000. 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. In an exclusive comment to CPN, Ron Crauderueff, director of sustainable policy at Sustainable South Bronx and chair of the Storm Water Infrastructure Matters (S.W.I.M.) policy committee, explained, “The return on investment is, first, a significant reduction in energy use, from 10 to 20 percent in the summertime. And second, it doubles or triples the lifetime of the roof.” Green roofs mitigate the sun’s UV rays’ wear on the roofing membrane with constant fluctuation due to temperature. “A green roof uses the sun as a resource,” he added. Dr. Paul Mankiewicz, Gaia Institute executive director and board member of the New York City Soil & Water Conservation District, said in a statement that, “Each 10,000-square-foot green roof can capture between 6,000 and 12,000 gallons of water in each storm event. At the same time, the evaporation of this rainfall will produce the equivalent of between a 1,000 and 2,000 tons of air conditioning, enough heat removal to noticeably cool 10 acres of the city.” The Natural Resources Defense Council claims that this energy cooling could save New York City residents more than $5 million. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, there will also be reductions to overflows of raw sewage into area waterways. The tax credit starts Jan. 1, 2009, and will expire after March 15, 2013. On the national front, GE Energy and GAF Materials Corp.’s announcement offers customers interested in purchasing a new roof the convenience of installing a solar system at the same time. The partnership is expected to advance the use of solar energy technology in both residential and commercial applications. When reached this morning by CPN, GE Energy’s Cynthia White said that the company was not yet able to discuss possible cost savings or innovations, as, “We have just begun the partnership and part of our work will be to develop the marketing plan around our future work together.” The solar industry has seen a 40 percent growth rate since 2005, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.