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First Co-op Qualifies for Enhanced Green Roof Tax Abatement

Emily Myers in Green Ideas on October 4, 2023

Crown Heights, Brooklyn

838 Park Place Green roof

The green roof and solar array at 838 Park Place.

Oct. 4, 2023

An eight-unit Crown Heights HDFC co-op is the first to qualify for an enhanced green roof tax abatement. This special rate is available to those buildings located in a city-designated priority community district. Currently, there are 15 community districts in North Brooklyn, the South Bronx and Central Harlem that are identified as burdened with disproportionate environmental hazards, including an urban heat island effect and air pollution.

838 Park Place invested $97,500 into the project, which it collected from an apartment sale’s  flip-tax. The investment will earn a property tax abatement at three times the regular rate of $5.23 per square foot. Qualification for the enhanced tax abatement rate of $15 per square foot reduced the total cost of the project at the co-op from $47.10 to $32.10 per square foot. This amounted to a $31,050 discount on the project’s price tag. In addition to getting the priority district enhanced tax abatement for the 2,070 square foot green roof, the building also has a solar array.

Qualifying for the enhanced tax abatement requires the green roof to meet the standard abatement requirements and have a soil depth of four inches. The building also needs to be within a priority community district. There is a short window of time left to take advantage of this higher-rate property tax abatement. Installation must have begun by July 1st, 2019 and be completed by June 30th, 2024. The tax abatement must be filed by a New York state registered architect or licensed engineer.

At Park Place, the decision to make the building’s roof green was fairly easy, especially once they figured out the green incentives available. “We had to use the flip tax for capital improvements so the money was there already,” says board member Leigh Howard. The green roof increases the efficiency of the solar by bringing down the ambient temperature on the roof, thereby keeping the electrical transmission lines of the solar panels cooler and more efficient. The cooler air on the roof also results in the HVAC condensers working more efficiently.

“With a green roof, air conditioning needs could drop by 60 to 80 percent for the top floor,” says Alan Burchell, principal at the green building consultancy firm, Urbanstrong. Depending on the roof’s insulation, the impact can also be felt in apartments two floors below the roof.

When planning a green roof installation, boards should consider combining it with other energy efficiency projects, thereby meeting the needs of residents at a price point that’s right for the building while also limiting exposure to penalties under the city’s energy and emission regulations. “I would encourage people not to treat their roof as an independent project,” Burchell says. “There's a lot of attractive financing for green energy efficiency projects, but it gets even more attractive when you bundle work together.”

Regardless where your co-op or condo is, the green roof tax abatement is capped at whichever is less: $200,000 or the amount of property taxes due for the building that tax year. In order to qualify, at least 50 percent of the roof space must be covered and the layer of vegetation must be at least 80 percent sedum or an equally drought-resistant plant species. This requires certification by a qualified architect, engineer, landscape architect or horticulturist. Other requirements include the installation of a waterproof roofing membrane, a root barrier, at least two inches of soil or soil alternative, a drainage layer and maintenance plan.


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