Officials from the Department of Environmental Protection and Lenox Hill Neighborhood Houses have unveiled Manhattan's first "green roof" built with city funds, and this little Upper East Side garden will play a major role in reducing drainage and pollution. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
A tiny oasis has been created three stories above 331 East 70th Street. But what the so-called green roof on the Upper East Side is capable of is anything but small.
"This little roof, 2,400-square-feet, is going to absorb 4,500 gallons of rain every time it rains," says Commissioner Carter Strickland of the city Department of Environmental Protection.
That is water that could otherwise end up in the sewer system and lead to overflows that send waste water into area waterways.
The roof is one of three built by the non-profit Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, made possible with funds from the city Department of Environmental Protection's Green Infrastructure Grant Program. It is one of 29 either completed or in the works and the first one in Manhattan.
"We have put up in total about $11 million through our grant program, three cycles. Private organizations have put up over $5 million, and that's a very good match," says Strickland. "It shows that these green infrastructure installations really add value beyond storm water."
In the case of the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, the value is a garden that will produce crops that will be used to fix the 300,000 meals they serve each year. It also provides a place for various programs for the 20,000 people of all ages the organization serves.
"For our early childhood kids, for example, they already helped to do a lot of the seeding of the vegetables already, for the tomatoes and the kale and the lettuces," says Laura Lazarus of the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. "They're learning about the ecosystem life of plants, they're going to learn about different parts of the plants. This summer they'll learn about different tools to use in the garden."
The green roof also helps clean the air and reduce a building's heating and cooling costs.
It is all part of the DEP's effort to address one of the city's top environmental challenges.
"If we have enough of these green roofs or little gardens throughout the city, we can really prevent a lot of pollution," Strickland says.
For more information on the DEP's Green Infrastructure Grant Program, visit nyc.gov/dep.