Union Square Rooftop A "Green" Feat
A Union Square building has become one of the first in the city to go green by retrofitting its roof into an urban oasis. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.
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A green roof is often an amenity found in new construction, but after Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his green roof initiative in September, older buildings are working to retrofit their rooftops. One of the first to complete this project is Zeckendorf Towers in Union Square.
"It took a new roof membrane, 225,000 pounds of soil, dozens of trees and shrubbery and lots of labor and we finally have our green roof," says Zeckendorf Towers Board Member Hazel MacMurray.
We are one of the first to see this 14,000 square foot urban oasis. Retrofitting a roof is no small task as it's all about weight and how much the roof can hold.
"The biggest challenge would be to make sure the roof structure, the deck, is strong enough. And some buildings you just can't. It's out of the question. And others sometimes you can add some beams, some columns -- difficult to do, but it has been done," explains FKC Engineering Associate Judith Zuckerman.
Engineers who plan green roofs say it’s a balancing act to find the right materials and to know exactly where to place them.
Zuckerman says while it may be a logistical challenge, a green roof also offers many benefits.
"The main benefit is that it will retain rainwater and slowly release it into the environment and so it doesn’t go into the sewer system," says Zuckerman. "The other, somewhat lesser benefit, is the fact that it maintains a cooler area around the building and helps cool the tremendous heat that cities generate in the summertime. Because it evaporates cooler water and lowers the temperature."
The roof also offers insulation, which helps retain heat. And the new waterproofing membrane and the layers of organic material will help double the life span of the roof.
"We're an older building and we wanted to change with the times and what better way to do that than with something that is not only environmentally friendly, but also visually pleasant," MacMurray says.
And let’s not forget how this investment could increase property values. The greening project alone cost $330,000 which was paid for with the help of a tax credit through the city’s green roof property tax abatement program.
As tenants enjoy their new oasis, the hope is other buildings will follow suit and help make the urban jungle a little greener.