New York City has some of the highest-priced real estate in the world. But building rooftops remain grossly underutilized (barring some notable exceptions). However, the city planning department is proposing that 1,200 acres of commercial rooftops be available for urban farmers to put greenhouses on. That would certainly boost local food and environmental stewardship in the Big Apple!
“City law imposes restrictions on how tall buildings are allowed to be in different areas, which is one reasons why rooftops stay empty — developers often build to the maximum height possible,” Sarah Laskow of Grist aptly notes. “The planning department’s proposal would allow buildings to add rooftop greenhouses above regular height restrictions. And according to a study from the Urban Design Lab, that would mean 1,200 acres of empty, flat rooftops would be eligible for green penthouses.”
There are many green features of urban farms and, especially rooftop farms. They can help to insulate a building; the absorb various gases we don’t want going into the atmosphere; and they can also help prevent rainwater runoff and pollution. Reportedly, these rooftop farms would be “required to incorporate rainwater collection and reuse systems, which will help the city mitigate the pressure that big rainstorms puts on the sewer system.”
Unfortunately, this proposal is limited to commercial rooftops. Why? Well, the city planning department, reportedly, has the concern “that residential building owners will turn rooftop greenhouses into additional living space instead of growing space.” Umm, what would be wrong with that? (My master’s degree is in city planning—I know what the technical answer is.. but it doesn’t suffice, in my humble opinion.)
Brooklyn Grange rooftop via Brooklyn Grange