GREEN ROOF TAX ABATEMENT TIMELINE
HISTORY OF THE PROGRAM
New York State has had a green roof tax abatement program since 2008. The program provides a property tax abatement for property owners who install vegetated roofs. SWIM has informed and encouraged the abatement program since its inception.
In 2007, SWIM Coalition organized green roof professionals, policy makers,environmental justice organizations and environmental groups to develop a shared vision for a Green Roof Tax Abatement program in New York City. Due to this coalition building, as well as significant research, analysis and work with elected officials, the NYC Green Roof Tax Abatement was originally passed in June 2008. Although the value ($4.50/sf) supported by the Bloomberg administration was lower than the value recommended ($6.75/sf), the coalition supported this incentive to gain political traction with the City.
The matter of which agency (appointed by the Mayor) would be designated to identify the priority zones was a topic of much discussion amongst stakeholders from July 2019 through August 2020 when it was decided that the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS) will be the entity to identify the priority zones. MOS says they plan to begin the rulemaking process by November of this year. The Mayor now has an Executive Order on his desk and as soon as he signs it, the rulemaking for the priority area selection can begin. Our stakeholder working group sent a letter to the Mayor encouraging him to sign the Executive Order last month.
A few of our recommended revisions were included in the July 2019 renewal of the program but not all. The renewed and revised program now includes:
The abatement rate for priority areas of the city where green roofs need to be incentivized is $15 and remains at $5.23 for the rest of the city (still low in both cases, new research by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities now shows that the average green roof cost in NYC is $26 per square foot)
The priority zones will be selected based on environmental justice concerns as well as stormwater and other environmental concerns
There is no limit to the number of priority areas to be selected, priority areas will be selected on a rolling basis over a three year period
There is a minimum 4” soil depth requirement for the high priority areas (we think this will be too prohibitive and are recommending it be 2” citywide so as to make more sites eligible for a green roof)
The abatement can now be applied to multiple years if the abatement amount exceeds the $200,000 project cap
The annual program cap remains at $1,000,000
In early 2019 when the various groups of stakeholders learned of one another’s efforts, we formed a stakeholder working group that was coordinated hosted by The Nature Conservancy. The stakeholder group met throughout early 2019 to collaborate and come to a consensus on a set of recommended revisions for the program that we could share with local agencies and lawmakers in Albany just before the final 2019 session ended and the vote to renew and revise the program took place.
When the program expired at the end of 2018, SWIM Steering Committee met with the lawmakers sponsoring a bill to renew the program to discuss our recommended revisions to the program. Other stakeholder groups also pursued a dialogue with the lawmakers regarding their recommendations for revisions. We were all recommending an increase in the abatement amount, a group of GI researchers submitted recommendations for a tiered system with a higher abatement amount in priority zones where vegetated roofs were most needed, DEP recommended a deeper soil level for the vegetated roofs based on the premise that more stormwater capture would be accomplished.
Because the tax abatement amount remained too low to truly cover the cost to install a green roof in NYC, participation in the program remained low through 2018. The Department of Buildings never even updated the abatement amount on their website to reflect the 2013 revisions. As of 2020, the old 2008 information is still up on the DOB website. According to DOB only 7 projects were approved and completed under the program from 2013-2018.
The program was renewed in 2013 for another 5 years (through 2018) and reflected some of our recommendations but not all:
the abatement amount increased from $4.50 to $5.23 (not the $9-14 we’d recommended)
the per project cap was increased to $200,000 (yay!)
Native plantings and urban ag on rooftops were included in the program (yay!)
The abatement length remained at one year (boo)
the Dept. of Finance capped the annual program budget at $750,000 for 2013, 2014 and 2015 and $1,000,000 for 2016 -2018 (okay, but still not enough)
When the program was up for renewal, SWIM Program Manager, Rob Crauderoff, conducted extensive research in partnership with Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and several organizations and agencies in NYC to develop recommendations for a higher abatement rate and other important revisions that would help incentivize a higher participation rate in the program. The 2013 research included countless interviews with focus groups of green roof contractors to study the financial barriers that had, thus far, limited robust participation in the program.
the NYC Green Roof Tax Abatement was originally passed in June 2008. Although the value ($4.50/sf) supported by the Bloomberg administration was lower than the value recommended ($6.75/sf), the coalition supported this incentive to gain political traction with the City.
In 2007, SWIM Coalition organized green roof professionals, policy makers,environmental justice organizations and environmental groups to develop a shared vision for a Green Roof Tax Abatement program in New York City.