New laws will require new buildings to have solar panels, green space on roofs

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Two laws will now require new buildings in the city to have green space, solar panels or a combination of the two.

The law applies to new buildings and existing buildings that are undergoing major renovations. Elected officials say the additions are an effort to fight climate change.

"If we're talking about how we're going to fight climate change, how we're going to improve our air quality here in our city, and how we're going to improve the issues that come with flooding. Green roofs have shown to be able to do all of those things and solar power, as we know, is the future," said Brooklyn Councilmember Rafael L. Espinal.

According to the Department of Buildings, emissions from buildings account for nearly 70% of greenhouse gas in the city.

The solar roofs will allow buildings to rely on natural energy as opposed to fossil fuels, and the green roofs will help to insulate buildings while also helping to prevent flooding.

Councilman Espinal says when he first introduced the law, he saw pushback from organizations regarding the cost of the roofs and concerns about roofs being suitable for solar panels and greenery.

"It's important to know that the bill gives them the option," said Espinal.

Still, representatives with the Real Estate Board of New York say in part, "Many buildings in the city do not get adequate sunlight to make solar panels useful to generate energy. Without adequate sunlight, green roofs are not viable and quickly turn into brown roofs as plants die off."

The laws are a part of the city's goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

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