From this week's Queens Chronicle:
Let’s Build Green
With an unseasonably warm winter to kick off 2007, it is unfortunate that most developers in Queens continue to ignore rising environmental concerns, building cheap and ugly brick boxes for future generations of businesses and residents. With the notable exception of Silvercup Studios, most privately owned rooftops in Queens remain covered in tar and gravel. Most apartments and shopping centers also have flat rooftops, and they are not aware of the benefits and incentives that come with vegetative roof covers, rainwater collection and solar panels.
Following the successful use of “green” architecture at the Queens Botanical Garden and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, our city should continue to set an example by renovating thousands of acres of city owned rooftops, such as public schools, libraries, police stations and housing projects with vegetative covers and solar panels.
Aside from the savings in energy costs, green rooftops can transform the ugly black rooftops into grassy meadows, restoring nature without compromising the need for growth. Among my favorite childhood memories was sunbathing and taking in the city views on the “tar beach” atop my Rego Park apartment building. Eventually, an alarm was installed and I was resigned to the pollution and noise of Queens Boulevard from my first floor window. With green rooftops, apartment residents can once again return to the open spaces, sunbathing and panoramic views that I once enjoyed. With the right incentives, maybe developers and landlords will take green architecture more seriously, benefiting the hundreds of thousands of apartment dwellers, as well as future generations of Queens residents.