While the buzz around New York City’s Climate Mobilization Act, passed in April 2019, has dissolved, property owners, architects, engineers, builders, and real estate financiers are dealing with the putting new policies into practice. Since November 15, 2019, Local Laws 92 and 94 have been targeting 400,000 acres of roofs in the city. Known as the Sustainable Roof Laws, they require most new buildings and major reconstruction to include a sustainable roofing zone on 100% of the available roof space. Local Law 94 amended the New York City (NYC) Building Code and defined sustainable roofing zone as an area of a roof assembly where a solar photovoltaic power generation system, a green roof, or a combination of the two is installed.

Sustainable roofs were rare in NYC. According to a mapping project from The Nature Conservancy, there were only about 730 green roofs out of over 1 million rooftops in NYC in 2016.

There are exceptions to the laws. They do not require solar and green roofs in areas used for:

  • Access or setbacks required by codes or zoning laws
  • Rooftop structures and mechanical equipment
  • Storm water management
  • Terraces (up to a size threshold)
  • Recreational space
  • Any other area Dept. of Buildings (DOB) determines is not feasible.

The laws also allow a five-year discretionary exemption for some income-limited housing and distressed buildings while the Department of Housing Preservation and Development studies affordability impacts.

The requirement to design buildings with sustainable roofs, whether owned by the building owner or others, will most likely increase the cost of constructing new or replacing a roof. While the new requirements for building sustainable roofs should reduce emissions in NYC and reduce energy costs for the building, only time will tell if these cost reductions will offset additional costs of construction.

Yoars Law has years of experience with environmental regulation and the construction industry in New York. We focus on being proactive business and legal advisors for our clients, guiding them through the complex legal and regulatory environments in which they must operate, and being zealot advocates when needed. We also provide transparent and predictable legal fees so our clients can manage their budgets effectively in an industry where controlling costs is one keystone in the success of a project.

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