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Green Roofs Tax Incentive Isn't Working Because it's Poorly Targeted

New York City's Green Roof Property Tax Abatement Program has failed to take off, but if it were targeted toward the areas that need stormwater infrastructure and green spaces the most, it could be made too big to ignore.
August 2, 2018, 6am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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A tax incentive for green roofs in America's most populated city been used seven times in nine years. Meanwhile the city spends millions dealing with stormwater, which can flood sewers and bring raw sewage up to the city streets. "The city is failing to take advantage of a perfectly good solution to this. By transforming barren roofs into verdant spaces, we can improve water quality, slash energy use, foster biodiversity and provide more enjoyable space," write Scott Stringer and Danielle Spiegel-Feld.

New York, like many large American cities, offers a tax credit to encourage the creation of green roofs, but that hasn't been much help. The city has only awarded its credit seven times in the nine-year existence of the Green Roof Property Tax Abatement Program. The state government allocated a million dollars a year to the city to support this initiative, but the city has struggled to use anywhere near that amount.

"The program should be restructured to provide a more targeted tax credit to a rotating group of neighborhoods that struggle with regular sewer overflows or a lack of green space," Stringer and Spiegel-Feld argue. Targeting specific neighborhoods could allow the city to offer more generous incentives and bring the roofs to the areas of the city that need them the most.

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Published on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 in Crain's New York Business
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