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Monday, April 9 • 2:45pm - 3:00pm
URBAN/EXURBAN LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY: Greenspaces Over Our Heads: Mapping Green Roofs and Understanding Their Benefits in New York City

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AUTHORS: Michael L. Treglia, New York City Program, The Nature Conservancy; Timon McPhearson, Urban Systems Lab, The New School; Eric W. Sanderson, Global Conservation Programs, Wildlife Conservation Society; Greg Yetman, Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University; Emily Nobel Maxwell, New York City Program, The Nature Conservancy

ABSTRACT: Cities globally face numerous challenges in maintaining a healthy and safe environment for people who live and work in them, and for biodiversity. Greenspaces are often lacking in densely populated urban areas, but can help alleviate problems related to air and water pollution and the urban heat island effect while provisioning habitat for myriad species. Urban greenspaces have historically included formal parkland, recreation fields, street trees, backyards, vacant land, and urban agriculture sites (e.g., community gardens). However, green infrastructure such as bioswales and green roofs are rapidly becoming part of this fabric, with the latter providing the additional benefit of increased energy efficiency for buildings they are installed on. However, green roofs are often installed on private land, simply categorized as “building” in land cover datasets, and thus ultimately difficult to track, along with the benefits they provide. Here we present results of our effort in New York City to map existing green roofs by querying publicly available datasets, manually digitizing green roof surfaces, and classifying high resolution aerial imagery. We are comparing the spatial distribution of green roofs to the spatial distribution of key environmental concerns, particularly related to combined stormwater sewer systems and the urban heat island effect, to evaluate whether green roofs are being installed in areas of greatest need. To date we have identified 163 buildings with green roofs, of approximately one million buildings in New York City, covering approximately 26 acres of nearly 40,000 in building footprints, largely focused in a handful of geographies. Results of this work can help inform future efforts and to geographically focus future green roof installations in areas of greatest benefit while adding to our understanding of greenspace in New York City. Finally, we highlight how our methodology can be applied to other cities with high resolution aerial imagery.

Monday April 9, 2018 2:45pm - 3:00pm CDT
Water Tower Parlor