Green roofs for dummies

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By Teri Karush Rogers  |
October 5, 2011 - 10:21AM

If you don't know that New York City's 22,000 acres of dark, heat-absorbing rooftops play an equally dark role in the urban heat island effect--a phenomenon in which local temps rise 6 to 22 degrees above surrounding areas--then you probably also don't know the difference between a 'cool' roof and a 'green' one.

Fortunately, the October issue of Habitat Magazine offers a handy fall-is-the-time-to-plan primer as well as pricing info for the two main options for making your roof environmentally responsible.

The article is not yet available online (Update 11/11/11: Now it is - click here), so here are the basics:

  • A "cool roof" sports a light-colored surface that reflects sunlight instead of absorbing it. The surface is basically paint that costs 25-50 cents per square foot and can be easily applied by your super.  (It works on asphalt roofs but not gravel.)  For more info, check out the city's Cool Roofs Program.
  • A "green roof" is actually alive. It's "essentially a layer of vegetation growing in a light-weight, soil-like medium." The lite-version of a green roof, referred to as "extensive," has a light layer of vegetation and is the most common. The "intensive" version has enough soil for shrubs and maybe even trees and needs more maintenance. Green roofs cost around $20-$30 per square foot to install, which can be partially offset by a $4.50 per square foot property tax abatement.  Tip: To keep your green roof growing, don't let the super do the weeding unless he knows what a weed looks like. 

(Habitat Magazine)

Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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