Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn lawmaker wants more green roofs on city schools

December 19, 2019 Meaghan McGoldrick
The Brooklyn Grange in the Brooklyn Navy Yard uses its green roof for urban agriculture. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Grange

A southern Brooklyn councilmember wants more city schools to get green roofs.

Councilmember Mark Treyger, a former educator and the current chair of the council’s Committee on Education, will introduce legislation Thursday calling on Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza to study the feasibility of installing a green roof on at least two schools in each of the city’s 32 school districts.

According to the nonprofit Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a green roof system is an extension of an existing roof that involves high-quality waterproofing, a drainage system and cloth filter, a lightweight growing medium and plants — at least.

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Green roofs, also referred to as living or eco roofs, have been known to last longer than conventional roofs, cut energy costs, absorb rain water and create peaceful retreats. They also can lead to the production of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Treyger, who represents the areas of Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Gravesend and Sea Gate, called the initiative a big deal for districts like his.

As someone who represents one of the hardest hit areas after Superstorm Sandy, I believe we have an obligation to bolster resiliency on many fronts,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle Wednesday, ahead of his bill’s introduction. “But on the other hand, Coney Island is also a food desert, meaning we don’t have great access to fresh, healthy, affordable food. Imagine being able to turn a school project into fresh food for local residents.”

Earlier this year, Council Speaker Corey Johnson visited P.S./I.S. 89, Cypress Hills Community School — the first in Brooklyn to get its own rooftop community garden — to announce a multi-pronged plan of policy proposals to combat food inequity.

Treyger’s bill would do just that, he contended, while also making schools in waterfront neighborhoods like Coney Island a little safer.


“This would be a win-win in terms of bolstering resiliency, providing real life learning experience for our students and increasing access to healthy food options,” he said.

Under Treyger’s legislation, Carranza would have to consult with the city’s School Construction Authority, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Buildings, or any other agency Mayor Bill de Blasio deems fit to make a determination.

The chancellor would then have no more than 180 days to submit the findings to the speaker, according to the text of the bill.

Treyger’s proposal comes on the heels of a historic package of legislation passed earlier this year from Councilmembers Rafael Espinal, Donovan Richards and Stephen Levin. The trio of bills amended the city’s administrative and building codes to require certain new residential and commercial buildings to install green or solar rooftops, and upped the real property tax abatement for the installation of a green roof.

“Green roofs can provide a really wonderful opportunity for urbanites to engage with nature,” Anastasia Plakias, co-founder and COO of Brooklyn Grange, the world’s leading soil rooftop farming company, previously told the Eagle. “We really believe that green infrastructure is critical to healthier more sustainable cities of the future.

When asked if he knew approximately how many New York City schools currently have their own green roofs, Treyger said no, but that his bill would make those numbers public. The DOE did not immediately respond to the same inquiry.


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