Rooftops have always been the rage here in New York, but in the last few years, roofs have increasingly been repurposed from a utilitarian function into places that can be used for the use of the public and for the benefit of the environment. This isn’t just a hippy movement though–the city has been actively providing incentives to convert rooftops, which collectively constitute almost 20% of the entire area of New York City. The city’s policy document, PlaNYC,  proclaimed that “rooftops represent our last big frontier.” Here’s a recap of rooftop conversions (there’s more than just green roofs!) and how you can experience them too:

Green Roofs

River Park Farm on East 29th Street

The Stalled Sites Program by the NYC Department of Buildings encourages the use of stalled construction sites as a hazard-prevention strategy and  Riverpark Farm  is one of those projects, run by Tom Colicchio’s Restaurant Group.

Eagle Street Rooftop Farms  in Greenpoint is a  6,000 square foot organic farm situated atop a warehouse with  a smashing view of Manhattan.There’s a community shared agriculture program (CSA), apprenticeships and many community outreach events.

Brooklyn Grange in Long Island City is available to rent for events, dinners, cocktails and other customized experiences. They’re also planning to open a 45,000 square foot facility in Sunset Park.

Bright Farms in Sunset Park, Brooklyn is converting a former Navy warehouse into a rooftop hydroponic greenhouse, meaning all the produce will be grown without any dirt needed.

Blue Roofs

Blue roofs are an affordable strategy to slow the rate of stormwater runoff and provide sustainability savings when painted in a light color. On PS 118 in Queens, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection is testing stormwater performance of green and blue roofs side-by-side.

NYC °CoolRoofs

This initiative encourages building owners to cool their rooftops by applying a reflective white coating that reduces energy use, cooling costs and carbon emissions.

And of course, there’s the rooftop bus project that was a thesis at the NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) in 2010 by Marco Castro Coslo. If NYC’s bus fleet was equipped with such an initiative, 35 acres of green space would be added.

Next up on Untapped, we’ll visit some unique rooftop designs in the city.

Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.


  1. nicola jackson says:

    Hey!I am wondering to see the diverse green roof in NYC. This blog make me surprising that how it is made. The technique of blue roof is awesome. I did not heard about the blue roof. The storm water is going and provide the sustainability of the roof. The green roof make the roof cool and save the environment from pollution. As the global warming is increased day by day, then it is a good idea and people also like to make the green roof.

  2. Bahij says:

    I work installing green roofs in NYC with a company called Greensulate (Greensulate.com). When you look at different options available for roofing in NYC green roofing is usually the most desirable in terms of added function, energy efficiency and storm water management, however with green roofs being prohibitively expensive projects like NYC Coolroofs are gaining more ground.

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