New York Green Roof Tax Abatement 

by | Last updated Jul 14, 2020 | Landscape, Sustainable Design

The state of New York passed a bill that allows property owners to save on their taxes if they build a green roof on their building. This applies to both new buildings and retrofitting existing buildings.

Green roofs have a number of benefits including reducing storm water runoff, increasing air quality, decreasing the urban heat island effect, increasing insulation to the roof, creating habitats for wildlife, prolonging the longevity of the roof, and making a more beautiful space for people to enjoy seeing.


Requirements for Property Tax Abatement for Green Roofs in New York

Requirements for Getting a Green Roof Tax Abatement NYC

  • If you are applying for a Tax Abatement for a Green Roof you must file for Permits with the NYC Department Of Buildings (DOB).
  • The filing must indicate that the alteration will be used to apply for the green roof property tax abatement in the future.
  • The construction documents must show work necessary to enable the roof to have a green roof.
  • The green roof must not obstruct firefighting access or equipment maintenance access, or otherwise violate the building code.
  • An architect or engineer must certify that the green roof meets New York’s definition of a green roof.
  • An architect or engineer must prepare a maintenance plan for the green roof that will maintain the roof for at least 3 years after the compliance period.
  • The owner of the building needs to allow periodic inspections of the green roof. The green roof must pass all required inspections.
  • When the green roof is completed, the request for construction sign-off and the application for property tax abatement must be submitted together at the same time.


Green Roof Definition New York

  • At least 50% of a building’s rooftop space must be a green roof
  • At least 80% of the green roof’s area must be covered by plants
    • Grass or Sedum qualify


Green Roof Construction Requirements

  • Waterproof / Weatherproof membrane
  • Root layer barrier
  • Insulation layer
  • Drainage layer
  • Soil (at least two inches)
    • Soil depth would vary based on proposed planting type
  • Water holding layer (only if soil is less than three inches)


Critical Depths of Soil For Green Roof Tax Abatement

Less than 2 inches of soil – not considered to be a green roof (no tax abatement)

Less than 3 inches of soil – needs a water holding layer (required for tax abatement)

Less than 4 inches of soil – May not require construction documents as per the tax abatement but as per NYC DOB requirements it may depending on your specific circumstance.


Savings from a Green Roof tax Abatement

How much money can building a green roof save you in taxes?

The tax abatement is eligible for up to $5.23 per square foot of green roof, not exceeding $200,000 or one year of property taxes in which the abatement is taken (whichever is less). So, for example, if someone builds a 10,000 sq. ft. green roof, the tax abatement would be $52,300.


Tax Abatement

As an architect I study the process of property development closely but it is a complex endeavor. NYC and NY State Regulations are complicated and quite involved. In this article, we reviewed some of the basic issues with regards to a New York Green Roof Tax abatement. This analysis does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview.


Thank you for reading our blog post on Green Roof Tax Abatement in New York.

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Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.