The long-promised green roof atop Brooklyn’s Barclays Center is finally taking root. More than a decade in the making, it looked at one point as if the green roof had been removed from the plan altogether.
But construction to install the greenery began this past May, and now representatives from Forest City Ratner say the entire job should be completed by the end of July.
Absorbing Water and Sound
Last fall and winter, construction workers built a steel platform atop the arena’s existing roof in order to support the weight of the plant installation.
Now, sedum—a drought-resistant, flowering plant that requires little in the way of maintenance—is being installed panel by panel, using three large cranes. When completed, the green roof will cover more than three acres of surface area.
The roof is designed to absorb rainwater during storms, putting less stress on the city’s aging sewer system and hopefully reducing combined sewer overflows. According to representatives from Barclays, the plants will also help to absorb sound coming from inside the building.
There’s also an aesthetic aspect. Many feel the verdant green roof sets off the harsh rusted exterior of the arena—and throughout the season, the sedum will change colors from green to yellow to red.
Not Everybody’s Sold
The roof, not unlike Atlantic Yards, does have its fair share of critics.
Some are frustrated at the lack of access; the original plan pitched to the community included the green roof as a lush oasis accessible to the public. The new structure is completely off-limits.
But the biggest issue is that it’s not being installed on the actual roof. They are building a giant 130,000 square foot steel superstructure that spans the whole existing roof with an air gap of between four and ten feet, installed by three cranes over a period of six months. They are essentially building a bridge to hold up a “flocked” pattern of sedum trays. The carbon footprint and embodied energy of so much steel far outweighs the environmental benefits of any green roof, let alone this one. The whole thing, from start to finish is a multimillion dollar environmental negative.
What’s your take?
Pictures of the New Green Roof at Barclays Center
Recently, Architect’s Newspaper got an extensive tour of the green roof installation. Here are a few photos from their visit:
Can a plastic tub save New York City? The humble rain barrel has a lot to offer- helping residents cut their water bills, keeping raw sewage out of local waterways, and cutting the city’s water consumption.
Managing rainfall more effectively has become a growing focus for New York City. Earlier this month, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection and Council Member I. Daneek Miller distributed rain barrels to 200 homeowners in St. Albans, Queens.
The DEP has distributed more than 2,900 rain barrels free of charge since 2008. Participation in the program is by invitation only, says the City. “Rain Barrels will be distributed in an organized fashion by neighborhood over the next three years,” the DEP notes on its website.
The 60-gallon barrels collect water that residents can use for tasks like watering lawns and gardens and washing cars, which helps to lower water bills. The barrels connect directly to a property owner’s downspout in order to capture and store stormwater that falls on the rooftop.
How much of a difference can re-using rainwater make for a New York City home or building owner? A lot, apparently.
Watering lawns and gardens can account for up to 40 percent of an average household’s water use during the summer months, says the City. Water rates in New York City have nearly tripled in the last 15 years, a terrific series by WNYC recently found.
But rain barrels are about more than helping to cut costs for building owners. Neighborhoods like St. Albans in Queens, and sections of Brooklyn and Staten Island, have been plagued by ongoing flooding because the City did not construct proper storm drainage systems when they were first developed.
“My district [southeast Queens] has suffered tremendously from the effects of localized flooding caused by an insufficient drainage system,” observed Council Member Miller in a statement.
By using rain barrels, “local residents are doing their part to help ease flooding conditions and conserve this most precious natural resource,” Miller said.
Absorbing rainwater before it overwhelms local sewers
The barrels are also part of a broader strategy to reduce the amount of stormwater entering storm drains, thus overwhelming local sewers and treatment plants. When this happens, raw sewage must be released into local waterways via combined sewer overflow points.
The rain barrels being distributed in St. Albans will help to protect the health of Jamaica Bay, says the City, because a number of local combined sewer overflow points release raw sewage directly into the Bay.
The DEP also distributed rain barrels this month to 200 Morris Park homeowners in the Bronx. Part of the objective, reiterated the DEP, is to limit combined sewer overflows into the Bronx River and Westchester Creek.
The rain barrel giveaway program is part of the City’s Green Infrastructure Plan that aims to capture stormwater before it can ever enter the sewer system. DEP says it will invest $2.4 billion in green infrastructure projects, such as bioswales on city streets, green roofs and rain gardens, as well as other “source controls”, such as rain barrels.
These investments will “significantly reduce combined sewer overflows” by 2030, says the City.
Cutting NYC’s water consumption by 5 percent
Collecting rain water has another goal too– New York City plans to reduce overall water consumption by five percent in advance of a massive drinking water infrastructure project.
The DEP has begun a project to repair leaks in the Delaware Aqueduct which supplies roughly half of the city’s daily drinking water. In order to complete these repairs to the Aqueduct, the tunnel must be temporarily shut down in 2022.
New York City residents, along with hundreds of thousands of suburban residents, consume over a billion gallons of water per day from the City’s water supply system, which is piped from a series of upstate reservoirs north and west of the city.
Other measures taken by the City to cut water use will include
a $23 million High Efficiency Toilet Replacement Program in “select” residential properties (saving 10 million gallons of water daily);
the installation of activation buttons on spray showers at 400 playgrounds (saving 1.5 million gallons daily during the summer months); and
new, high efficiency fixtures in the bathrooms of 500 City schools (saving nearly 4 million gallons daily during the school year).
The private sector is also getting involved. The Hotel Association of New York City is partnering with DEP to reduce water use at some of its premier hotels by five percent annually. Will we eventually see rain barrels at the Plaza?