On The Roof With Council Member Rafael Espinal

Sourced from the Living Architecture Monitor

Steven Peck (SP): Congratulations Council Member Espinal. You and your colleagues on council have just passed a package of legislation that promises to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings in NYC! What is it about the culture/politics of NYC that allows you to take a progressive stance on climate mitigation and adaptation like this?

Rafael Espinal (RE): With a federal government decimating our National parks and ignoring climate change, there's an opportunity and an obligation for municipalities to take drastic action. NYC has a huge carbon footprint, but we also have a very progressive City Council that's conscious of setting precedent with global ramifications. We have to do everything that's in our power to show that big cities need to take accountability for their energy use, and enforce policies that begin to reverse the damage urban development has caused.

SP: You have taken the lead on requiring green roofs, solar panels and or small wind turbines on new commercial and residential buildings. What exactly does the legislation call for and what will this do for New York City? How do the technologies relate to one another... i.e., is one turbine equivalent to two solar panels and 50 sf of green roof?

RE: This bill was passed with a package of other legislation to create a New York City-centric version of the green new deal. My bill specifically requires green roofs or solar panels to cover all feasible parts of rooftops for commercial buildings. It also requires the same green standards for commercial rooftops that are undergoing extensive repair or replacement on older buildings. This is a significant stride in reducing the Urban Heat Island effect, collecting runoff water, and cooling off buildings in the summer, so they won't use as much energy on air conditioning.

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