NYC’s Green Infrastructure Expansion

NYC’s Green Infrastructure Expansion

Green infrastructure is playing a key role in New York City’s stormwater solution with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) managing 586 million gallons of stormwater per year and 467 equivalent greened acres through green infrastructure projects, the majority of which are on right of ways and public property. Read how the city is expanding its Green Infrastructure Program further on private property.

By Robert C. Brears*

New York City’s green infrastructure aims to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSO) into New York Harbor, in addition to providing multiple community and environmental benefits to the city’s neighborhoods and residents in a cost-effective way. These secondary benefits include increased urban greening, urban heat island reduction, and more habitat for birds and pollinators. By incentivizing retrofits on private property, in addition to retrofitting the city’s streets, sidewalks, and public property, New York City is well on track to meet its 2030 CSO reduction goal of 1.67 billion gallons of stormwater a year.

Private Incentive Retrofit Program

DEP will be releasing a Request for Proposals to procure a Program Administrator to launch and administer a new green infrastructure Private Incentive Retrofit Program. The five-year contract will have a value of $43-$58 million with a goal of retrofitting 200 greened acres. The Private Incentive Program will be limited to specific tiers of private properties in the combined sewer areas of the City to maximize the potential of green acres managed:

·  Tier 1 : Privately-owned properties in the combined sewer areas of the city that are greater than 100,000 square feet (SF), with 915 sites identified covering 6,170 gross acres

·  Tier 2 : Privately-owned properties in the combined sewer areas of the City that are between 50,000–99,999 SF, with 1,511 sites identified covering 2,366 gross acres

Fast-tracking green roofs

DEP has released a streamlined fast-track review process for private green roof projects funded through its Green Infrastructure Grant Program. The funding schedule sets reimbursement rates for green roof projects based on growing media depth and planted area with reimbursement rates for green roofs between 3,500–20,000 SF set as follows:

· Projects with soil depths of 1.5–1.99 inches will receive $10/SF

· Projects with soil depths of 2.0–2.99 inches will receive $15/SF

· Projects with soil depths of 3.0–3.99 inches will receive $25/SF

· Projects with soil depths of 4.0+ inches will receive $30/SF

These upfront reimbursement rates eliminate uncertainty over how much funding is available for potential projects and by giving this information to applicants in advance it means DEP can fast-track green roof grant applications, with anticipated design approval within 90 days from the submittal date.

The take-out

Cities can incentivize the private sector to implement green infrastructure solutions that have multiple public benefits.

*Robert C. Brears is the author of  Urban Water Security  (Wiley),  The Green Economy and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus  (Palgrave Macmillan),  Natural Resource Management and the Circular Economy   (Palgrave Macmillan),   and  Blue and Green Cities   (Palgrave Macmillan). He is Founder of Our Future WaterMitidaption, and Mark and Focus.

LinkedIn Groups: Our Future Water / Urban Water Security

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