In April 2019, New York City Council passed the Climate Mobilization Act, which, among other things, requires the placement of green roofs or solar panels on all new roofs throughout the city. With coronavirus putting a temporary pause on nonessential construction projects, effects of the legislation remain in the distant future. 

Max Lerner, Sustainability Projects Development Coordinator for the New York City Parks Department, says that the additional time given to plan sustainable construction may not be all that bad. “As we’re in this somewhat holding pattern, there’s going to be a lot of thought about preventive maintenance [for green roofs],” he told us.

Lerner, who works with other experts in the Green Roof Interagency Working Group of the mayor’s office, says that the group is still actively planning for widespread green roof construction, even while many projects are at a standstill. “You don’t build a building in a day in New York. And a lot of it is top-heavy on the planning, so we are still in constant contact with other city agencies that are all working to do their part to comply with the Climate Mobilization Act,” said Lerner.  

Pre-coronavirus, we met with Lerner at the Citywide Services Building on Randall’s Island, where he studies sustainable technologies and provides public tours of the most diverse green roof in the city. While tours of the facility are currently unavailable, Lerner and the City are working to reopen as soon as safely possible. Lerner hopes to be able to provide virtual tours to those interested in learning about green roofs in the near future. 

In the meantime, listen to our audio piece, above, to learn more about the implications of the green-roof legislation for New York City residents and be transported to the vast green roof on Randall’s Island.