As Manhattan grows and progresses, change, with regard to building performance, is inevitable. Many newly constructed buildings uphold sustainable standards from the start; yet, the city is overwhelming settled with existing structures that need some upgrading – case in point, the retrofit project of the Empire State building that will cut energy usage by close to 40% and carbon emissions by over 100,000 metric tons over the next 15 years. As the city tries to put its greenest face forward by retrofitting older buildings and adding sustainable features, zoning laws from the 1960s did not account for, and thus, in some cases do not allow, such changes. Recently, the city has introduced its latest initiative, Zone Green, which Amanda Burden, Chair of the City Planning Commission, has called the most comprehensive effort of any U.S. city to sweep aside zoning obstacles to the construction and retrofitting of green buildings. ”Removing zoning impediments to green buildings will give building owners more choices to make investments that save money, save energy, and improve the quality of our environment,” explained Burden. More about Zone Green after the break.
Zone Green represents another grand step forward for the city in terms of promoting a sustainable metropolis, as the amendment infuses a sense of our present-day environmental awareness into zoning considerations made 50 years ago. “Today, we are at a crossroads with respect to the performance of our buildings. We know that they must accomplish much more than they were once designed to do – they can save energy and generate clean, renewable power; reduce the burdens they place on city infrastructure; support our ecology; and provide a healthier environment for New Yorkers. We also know that we cannot accomplish this only with new, high-performing green buildings. We must also improve the performance of our existing buildings, which represent 85 percent of the buildings we will have in 2030,”explained Burden. Under this text amendment to the existing zoning laws, Zone Green would enable solar panels to be placed atop any building roof; permit shading devices and screens to project from building facades over required open areas; and would allow wind turbines to exceed a height limits when placed atop buildings near the waterfront. Although the amendment must meet public approval before it can be enacted, the city is confident that the proposal will be passed. We’ll keep you updated with the progress of their efforts. Source: Urban Green Council Blog