Opening the Door to More Rooftop Farming?
The New York City Department of City Planning has proposed changes in zoning rules to make it easier to construct and retrofit buildings for energy efficiency – including a provision on rooftop greenhouses.
The zoning law amendments propose a number of new rules to encourage more energy efficient building practices. These include exemptions to building size and height restrictions, with limits, to allow:
= Building rooftop greenhouses on non-residential buildings, up to 25 feet in height.
= Installing wind turbines, both on roofs up to 55 feet above the rooftop, and freestanding ones in commercial and manufacturing areas on waterfront blocks.
= Adding solar panels to roofs, and solar control devices – such as awnings or slatted screens – to reduce the need for air conditioning.
= Installing green roofs, recreational decks, stormwater retention systems and skylights.
= Expanding external wall insulation to existing buildings.
A recent study by the Urban Design Lab at Columbia University outlined the potential for expanding green roof capacity in New York City. That study identified some 3,200 acres of commercial, industrial and public building roofs as having potential for farming – given necessary changes in the city’s building codes. The Urban Design Lab is a joint laboratory of the Earth Institute and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
The proposal is one of a series of efforts by the city to promote environmentally sustainable practices. Other recent initiatives include transit-oriented development, alternatives to automobile use, better access to healthy, fresh foods, better stormwater management, planting trees and adding other green spaces to the streetscape.
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