New York City promotes eco-friendly building with Zone Green

January 9, 2013

Cities across the United States are promoting the adoption of eco-friendly building by creating new construction standards and enacting new legislation. In New York City, lawmakers adopted the program referred to as Zone Green, which amends the city’s previous zoning regulations that intended to foster green building.

The program was created by the efforts of the Urban Green Council at the behest of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. According to the New York City Department of City Planning, the Zone Green movement intended to remove zoning impediments to the construction and development of green buildings within the city’s limits. This would help give builders and property owners more choices for green investments.

"New York City is once again demonstrating leadership with creative and actionable strategies for tackling climate change with Zone Green," says Ann Bagley, Awards Jury chair for the American Planning Association. "Incentivizing green construction and retrofits, while reducing the regulatory hurdles, will benefit the citizens and business community in New York."

Because New York City has strict regulations concerning the size of a building (floor area) in relation to the land the structure is on, the Zone Green program now allows building owners to add insulation to the outside of their building, without having to worry about adding corresponding floor area. Other new additions to New York City’s zoning rules include a stipulation that sun control devices are now allowed as long as they add architectural interest to a structure and are horizontal or vertical from the building façade.

"While zoning often focuses on new buildings, Zone Green focuses just as much on existing buildings. In 2030, 85 percent of our buildings will be buildings that exist today – so improving the performance of existing buildings is critical to reducing New York City's energy use and carbon emissions," says New York City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden. "By removing prohibitions and penalties that have prevented buildings from better insulating their walls, adding solar panels on their roofs, or growing fresh, local food on rooftops, Zone Green will help bring our buildings into the 21st century while protecting the character and quality of life of our neighborhoods."

Programs like these and others help property owners to retrofit their buildings into more eco-friendly structures. In Philadelphia, the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) promotes the adoption sustainability practices. It works to promote energy saving technology adoptions and the strengthening of state sustainability legislation.