Add Greenspace on New York rooftops!

  • Author:
  • Send To:
    NYC and NY State government
  • Sponsored By:
    New Yorkers who breath
  • More Info at:
Add Greenspace to New York's Rooftops!

We face three crises in New York right now. Bloomberg says that there's no money for recycling, dust from the WTC disaster endangers us all, and we're facing another hot summer with untrustworthy deregulated powerplants (Enron, anybody?)
We can respond to all three at the same time.
-Let's take organic debris and compost it. Mix it with shredded styrofoam and other city waste to make a lightweight soil (as demostrated by the Gaia Instute over ten years ago and tested many times since).
-Put it into lightweight shallow planters made of locally recycled plastic. Seed the planters with drought-resistant species.
-Put the planters on every rooftop that will take them.

This gives us a use for our plastic waste for several years to come (some glass too as we'll explain later), gets particulate matter and other pollutants out of the air, and superinsulates the rooftops of New York buildings at almost no cost to building owners.

Rooftops won't be stressed by this. The biggest stress on most city rooftops is upward pressure from wind. New York winds are so bad that last year NYU had pavers torn loose and scattered about the roof. So not only would the weight not be a problem (as long as the planters are designed properly) but they would cut down on maintenance costs.

We know that plants can survive in New York without watering. Just look at any abandoned lot. It's just a matter of choosing the right species. Current rooftops are suited only to birds like pigeons. Planters of hardy perennials like English Ivy, Sedum, and beach grasses would create habitats for birds that need more gentle conditions and increase biodiversity.

Materials would come from the city's waste stream so processing and transport are the only costs. Can anybody *really* show that this would be more expensive than having waste landfilled? In fact, one option would be to scatter flattened "pebbles" of waste glass and plastic over the soil, which would reduce evaporation and both summer and winter heat stresses on the plants.

In countries like Switzerland and Japan rooftop greenspace is the law. They've found that covering buildings with flora makes environmental and business sense. Here in New York programs like Materials for the Arts and Greenthumb show how well city government can execute when they get the chance.

Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki, we, the undersigned ask that instead of throwing up your hands and calling New York's problems unaddressable, or even worse, counting on the circus down in Washington to help, take action. Initiate a program to turn our garbage into gardens and give us the first skyline in America to mix skyscrapers with skymeadows.