Council considers tax exemption for green roofs

Resolution would call on Albany to create green roof tax incentive. The City Council’s Finance Committee heard public testimony on November 29, 2007 on a resolution that would request the State Legislature to amend the New York State Real Property Tax Law and establish a tax exemption incentive for property-owners to equip their buildings with green roofs.

The resolution, sponsored by Council Member Oliver G. Koppell, seeks to encourage the use of green roofs in the City, which would help address several environmental problems such as the urban heat island effect, sewer overflows, and poor air quality with its attendant high asthma rates.

The tax incentive would offset a portion of the installation costs for green roofs, which are typically twice that of conventional roofs. Cities such as Chicago and Toronto, as well as many cities throughout Europe, have adopted similar incentives. A representative for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer generally supported the resolution, calling it a “model framework” for achieving the City’s sustainability goals. Kate Shackford, Director of Energy at the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, also testified in support of the resolution, noting that it would eliminate the main impediment to green roof installation—cost. Shackford further noted that many of the City’s properties are perfect candidates for green roofs and cited as an example the 10,000-square-foot green roof at the Bronx County Courthouse, the first City-owned building to have a green roof. Amy Norquist, President of Greensulate LLC, a green building consultancy, gave her support as well, crediting green roofs with cutting energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Chair of the Finance Committee, David I. Weprin, closed the hearing without a vote, and did not announce when the committee would decide on whether or not to send the matter before the full Council.

Council: Hearing on Resolution 1004 (Nov. 29, 2007).

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