New York City Department of City Planning Proposes Green Building Text Amendment

April 28, 2012

In February 2010, the Green Codes Task Force, a group of leading practitioners convened by the Urban Green Council at the request of Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Quinn, released a set of recommendations to amend City regulations to promote green buildings. Here we’ve covered the topic to review what’s on the table and what’s not, in advance of our May Forum covering in part this same topic. Building on the work of the Green Codes Task Force, the Department of City Planning has proposed a Citywide zoning text amendment to remove zoning impediments to the construction and retrofitting of green buildings. This proposal, called Zone Green, would give owners more choices for the investments they can make to save energy, save money, and improve environmental performance. This proposal is one of a series of green initiatives DCP has been undertaking in order to promote sustainable communities throughout New York City. Other recent initiatives have promoted transit-oriented development; alternatives to automobile ownership and use; improved access to healthy, fresh foods; stormwater management and the quality of our streetscape.

The Zone Green proposal would facilitate better insulated walls in both new and existing buildings to help lower heating and cooling costs.  The proposal would also help people install green infrastructure, such as green roofs and solar panels, and other rooftop equipment on the roofs of buildings at or above a zoning height limit.  Sun control devices, which help reduce cooling loads and improve daylighting, would be permitted in some instances where zoning prohibits them today.  The proposal also includes new allowances for wind turbines on tall buildings or on the waterfront, where their potential for clean energy generation is the greatest. In addition, there are other provisions in the proposal relating to a variety of issues from electric cars to rooftop green houses.

The proposed text amendment was referred out on December 12, 2011 and will undergo a complete public review process, including referral for 60 days to all community boards, borough boards and borough presidents for review and comment, followed by review by the City Planning Commission and City Council.  You can voice your support or concerns about this proposal at publc hearings held by all these different entities.  For more information on the proposal, visit the Department of City Planning’s website at