NYC Puts Green Zoning Where Its Mouth Is

In the midst of New York City‘s big push to increase the energy efficiency of its buildings (and get a little more renewable energy on board to keep them running, too), a set of recommendations has been approved by the City Council and the new regs are now in effect.

The Zone Green Text Amendment was designed to remove zoning impediments to the construction and retrofitting of green buildings, helping to accomplish a number of the Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s green objectives for the city by giving owners more choices when it comes to the investments they can make to save energy, save money and improve their buildings’ overall eco-performance. The recommendations were arrived at by the Green Codes Task Force, a group of leading green building experts convened by the Urban Green Council at the request of Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

new york city energy efficiency standards

image via Shutterstock

The zoning amendments allow allow existing buildings to add external insulation within the property line, while exempting it from floor area calculations and yard and open space regulations; and for new buildings, to allow for up to eight inches of insulation that likewise would not count in floor area calculations. They also allow sun-control devices such as shades and awnings, and clear the way for rooftop solar power systems, green roofs and skylights anywhere below the parapet of a building, regardless of its height.

Other amendments to city zoning laws call for the exemption of rooftop greenhouses from floor area calculations, and allow for wind turbines up to 55 feet (including the pole and rotor) to be mounted on buildings taller than 100 feet, provided they are set back at least 10 feet from any property line.

The proposed zoning changes in pursuit of greener building passed through the period of public comment across the five boroughs as of February of this year, gained approval from the City Planning Commission (with modifications) and were approved by the City Council on May 1.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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