Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2021

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Studies


John Van Buren


Urban green roofs are among the encouraging climate solutions that can transform the future of cities. The reincorporation of vegetation into the built environment enhances invaluable natural services, like clean air and water, for all New Yorkers to enjoy. Although the natural services aren’t economically valued, the benefits that stem from them are. Benefits range from stormwater management, increased property value and increased lifespan of roofs, and lower energy bills. Many buildings can be retrofitted for green roofs that work with natural systems to maximize the environmental, economic, and social benefits unique to the needs or wants of the installer. When utilized as a climate adaptation tool, green roofs can ease the effects of climate change for vulnerable communities and support points of weakness in existing stormwater infrastructure. Despite the ongoing list of benefits, green roofs are not being implemented at a rate that will create climate resilient cities. This paper explores the challenges of implementing green roofs in New York City by identifying benefits, addressing valuation obstacles, and investigating existing policy. Chapter 1 quantifies climate change effects that NYC is currently facing and will continue to face. In Chapter 2, green roof benefits that mitigate climate change effects are identified and maximized through strategic design. Chapter 3 examines the history of policies that support the implementation and the current policies that have come from NYC climate goals. Current policy in NYC may not be strong enough to increase the amount of green roofs that is necessary to provide city wide, equitable benefits. Unfortunately, the ecosystem services that sustain human life are not assigned a monetary value, so their economic benefits aren’t realized. The green roof valuation process can inform lawmakers to create strong policies and incentives that advocate for enhancing natural systems. Chapter 4 valuates these services through cost-benefit analysis.The identification of green roof benefits maximized by design and 2 informed by data, the cost-benefit analysis, and the policy examination is synthesized in Chapter 5 as policy recommendations.