Author Archives: Jessica Lin

About Jessica Lin

Jessica Lin is currently a freshman of Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Baruch.

Posts by Jessica Lin

To: Professor MacBride

From: Jessica Lin

Date: April 15, 2013

Re: Annotated Bibliography – The Reality of Green Roofs

1. Urban Design Lab at the Earth Institute, and Columbia University. “The Potential for Urban Agriculture.” The Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City, 2012.

Summary: “The Potential for Urban Agriculture” focuses on all types of urban agriculture, including community gardens, open space farming, rooftop farming, etc. This study gives information on all aspects of urban agriculture: The planning stage – what needs to be considered, the costs and benefits, and so forth; The potential of urban agriculture – what spaces and how much space is available and can be used in every borough of New York City; The issues NYC faces and how urban agriculture can help – obesity correlated to the lack of fresh foods, storm water run-off, the urban heat island effect, and waste composting; Incentives for urban agriculture, including tax abatements for green roofs.

Rationale: This article is particularly relevant because it contains a vast amount of information about the potential and the difficulties of urban agriculture specifically in New York City. I would like to use on the information it provides on green roofs. To know how realistic green roofs are, it is good to have number or percentage in mind of how many roofs can actually be used. This is provided in the study. For my paper, I am bringing to focus two issues that rooftop farming tackles: storm water run-off and the urban heat island effect, because these two issues are relevant to New York City. This study also provides a useful amount of statistics and information on the two issues. It shows that green roofs can help to reduce the temperature of New York City provided by a study done by NASA, and that there has already been incentives taken towards green roofs that help to combat water run off.


2. Rosenberg, Tina. 2012. “Green Roofs in Big Cities Bring Relief From Above.” The Opinionator.

Summary: Big cities have to face the issues of water run-off and the urban heat island effect. This blog explains the types of green roofs there are, intensive and extensive roofs. Of course installing green roofs are not simple or cheap, but there are shown benefits. Studies have been done to provide statistics and results of green roofs compared to our traditional black roofs. There are many places that have already begun various types of green roofs.

Rationale: This blog is very important because it provides the general overview of green roofs. It also provides valuable resources and summarizes them, Leading me to two green roof studies done in New York City which I will provide in the next two citations. As well, according to Amy Norquist, green roofs also tackle climate change through absorption of carbon emissions. One square meter of green roof can absorb the emissions of one car driven 12,000 miles a year. This is another potential of green roofs.


3. S.R. Gaffin, C. Rosenzweig, J. Eichenbaum-Pikser, R. Khanbilvardi, T. Susca. “A Temperature and Seasonal Energy Analysis of Green, White, and Black Roofs” Columbia University, Center for Climate Systems Research. New York.

Summary: In this report, Columbia uses Con Edisons “Learning Center” Roof Project of green, black, and white roofs to create an analysis of how heat flow varies from black roofs, white reflective roofs, and green living roofs. These roofs are located in Queens. In summary, black roofs absorb the most amount of heat. White roofs are cooler than black roofs, and green roofs are cooler than white roofs. During winter time, black roofs showed the highest temperature heat loss, while green roofs had a lower heat loss rate. It is important to note that this report provides statistics of heat and temperature pertaining to buildings in New York City, and not the temperature or heat of New York City in general.

Rationale: While statistics may show that green roofs can help to reduce New York City temperature by several degrees, to us that may not sound to be a lot. This report by Columbia focuses on the temperature effects on buildings. This directly effects us because we are the residents of these buildings. The statistics provided by the report help to show just how much a building we live in (just like the roofs in the report, located right here in Queens, New York) can be cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and indication of energy conservation due to these effects.  Also, the reduction of heat due to green roofs is thought to have correlating effects on energy conservation. However, as stated in this report, it is shown that energy savings are modest. This shows that there is a reduction, but it may not be much.


4. Gaffin, S. R., Rosenzweig, C., Khanbilvardi, R., Eichenbaum-Pikser, J., Hillel, D., Culligan, P., McGillis, W., and Odlin, M., 2011. “Stormwater Retention for a Modular Green Roof Using Energy Balance Data“ Columbia University, Center for Climate Systems Research. New York. 19 pages

Summary: Using the Con Edison Learning Center, statistics were collected and analyzed between a green roof, white roof, and black roof. Black roofs show the highest absorption of heat, white roofs reflect and retain less heat than black roofs, and green roofs retain the least amount of heat compared to the other two. It can be concluded from this study that green roofs are most effective in all aspects concerning building temperature.

Rationale: To understand the potential and benefits of green roofs in combatting storm water run off, we need to know just how much water can be retained by these roofs and how it works? This study, which also used the Con Edison Learning Center, shows just how much water can be retained annually and throughout the summer by this building. The evaporation of water from a green roof is equivalent to the amount of water that is retained by a green roof and never enters the sewage system. This study is significant because we can then use these statistics to estimate how much water can be kept of the water system if we implemented green roofs on a larger scale.  This helps to prove that green roofs are an effective solution.

5. EPA. 2008. “Green Roofs” Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies. Environmental Protection Agency.

Summary: This chapter explores the urban heat island effect through green roofs. It explains the two types of green roofs: intensive and extensive, and goes into an analysis of the costs and benefits of installing green roofs. Green roofs work through shading and evapotranspiration. There are also other factors that must be considered. Several case studies of green roof initiatives are included. The research used to support this chapter is taken from other states and even in places like Canada.

Rationale: Before we focus on the benefits of green roofs we first need to understand how green roofs work, and the types of green roofs there are. This gives a thorough understanding of green roofs and more support of how green roofs reduce energy, collect water, but more importantly this is one of the sources that provides more information on how it reduces greenhouse gases through absorption. It also provides links to research being conducted by university programs which is very useful.

What is your right to the city ?

Nadia Anderson’s idea of right to the city is to achieve it through social infrastructure. Significance is placed on unused and overlooked spaces that haven’t been planned or focused on. These spaces escape the dull, lifeless rules and ideas of a planned space, and it should incorporate people in a way that will allow for the creation of an interactive and dynamic environment. How do you feel about this idea? The “right to the city” is a term originally proposed by Lefebvre in the late 1960s and basically means every individual has access and a right to change the city. This term has adapted many different meanings. What is your meaning of the right to the city?

Progression of Rooftop Agriculture

500 B.C. – Earliest history of green roofs dates to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It is one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. Plants draped over all sides of the building.

1700s – Tracing back to European countries, allotments were a common type of farming. Allotments are small pieces of land for individual farming and personal consumption. The urbanization, industrialization, and changing lifestyles led people to develop these farms. (Acton)

1810s – Luke Howard was one of the first to produce studies on urban climate change. In 1833 he published the book, “The Climate of London”, which touched upon the difference between temperature in cities compared to climate in general. Artificial heat is generated in cities which contribute to higher temperatures. (Howard)

1890s – In America, similar to allotments, were community gardens. These were gardens larger in size and cultivated by the community and provided food and labor. During World War I and II these gardens were known as “victory gardens” to help provide food and support war. (Acton)

1936 – One of the first green roofs was built on Rockefeller Center. However, it’s purpose was for aesthetic pleasure and to resemble hanging gardens, not for the benefits of sustainability or cooling effects. (Green Roofs)

1969 – The term of the urban heat island effect began earlier than 1969. One of the earliest articles was published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology dating back to 1969. It talks about criticisms of already existing theories and uses a numerical energy budget model to find the causes. (Myrup)

2000s – The benefits of urban gardening and rooftop gardening are recognized and merge. Much initiative to build rooftop farms originates from lack of fresh local food and issues with industrial farming. It is encouraged as a healthy alternative which also combats health problems such as obesity.

2002 – The Earth Pledge Foundation launches their Green Roof Initiative in New York City. (Green Roofs)

Mid 2000s – Rooftop Agriculture isn’t only a sustainable method regarding food and health. Numerous studies are conducted to demonstrate the benefits of green roofs, which include cooling the urban heat island effect, energy efficiency, reducing water run-off, and so forth. Alongside, organizations such as Brooklyn Grange and initiatives by New York City are enforced to encourage rooftop agriculture.

2006 – Silvercup Studios built a 35,000 square foot rooftop farm in September of 2006. It is located in Long Island City, Queens. (Green Roofs)

2007 – PlaNYC 2030 launched by Mayor Bloomberg to tackle climate change by reducing green house gas emissions, carbon footprint, and promote sustainability. (PlaNYC 2030)

2010 – A study by Columbia University found that a green roof in Queens reduced the amount of heat absorbed during the Summer by eighty four percent. The same green roof which was built by Con Edison also found that if New York maximized it’s use of green roofs it could reduce ten to fifteen billion gallons of rain water per year. (Gaffin, Roscenwieg)

2010 – The Department of City Planning makes exceptions for greenhouses, to “allow a greenhouse to be exempt from floor area and height limits, provided that it is located on top of a building that does not contain residences or sleeping accommodations. These greenhouses must not exceed 25 feet in height, must set back six feet from the roof edge, and must include practical measures to limit water consumption.” (NYC DEP of City Planning)

2010 – Brooklyn Grange is an organization that runs one of the largest rooftop farms (over two thousand acres of rooftop agriculture) in two locations: Brooklyn and Queens.

2011 – The New York City Green Infrastructure Plan will invest 1.5 billion dollars into green buildings and green roofs to help reduce water runoff. The goal is to reduce rainfall and sewer runoff by forty percent by 2030. (NYC DEP of Environmental Protection)

2012 – Michael Arad, the architect who designed the 9/11 memorial, designed a rooftop garden for the Earth School in East Village. This started through the Fifth Street Farm Project created by parents and teachers. The rooftop garden opened on October 12. (Fifth Street Farm Project)

Works Cited:

Acton, Lesley. “Allotment Gardens: A Reflection of History, Heritage, Community and Self.” Papers from the Institute of Archaeology 21.0 (2011): n. pag. CrossRef. Web. 1 Mar. 2013.

“American Community Gardening Association.” Web. 13 Mar. 2013.

“A NYC Public School Green Roof Project.” 5th street farm project. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.

“Laura Lawson_Urban Garden Research.” Web. 12 Mar. 2013.

Gaffin, S. R., Rosenzweig, C., Eiehenbaum-Pikser, J., Khanbilvardi, R. and Susca, T., 2010. ” A Temperature and Seasonal Energy Analysis of Green, White and Black Roofs” Columbia University, Center for Climate Systems Resesarch. New York. 19 pages.

Luke Howard. “The climate of London, deduced from Meteorological observations, made at different places in the neighbourhood of the metropolis” 2 vol., London, 1818-20

Luke Howard and The Climate of London. Weather, 63: 153–157. doi: 10.1002/wea.195

Myrup, Leonard O. “A numerical model of the urban heat island.” Journal of Applied Meteorology 8 (1969): 908-918.

Rosenberg, Tina. “Green Roofs in Big Cities Bring Relief From Above.” Opinionator. 23 May 2012. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.

“NYC Green Infrastructure Plan.” NYC Department of Environmental Protection. Web. 12. Mar. 2013.

“Zone Green Text Amendment – Department of City Planning.” Web. 19 Mar. 2013.



Oops it’s not my week to post a question :(

I once overheard a man on the train talking about the MTA system and how it was putting an endless amount of money into a system that couldn’t support itself. The foundation of the MTA system itself is very poor. Bruce Stutz talks about the disruptions of hurricane Sandy and how Mayor Bloomberg, the city, state and federal agencies, all saw it coming, but not for another twenty years from now. “It wasn’t as if they’d been derelict in starting to plan.” But the problem is that from the very beginning, the MTA failed to create a strong foundation for itself and that’s why it needs so much planning now. How do you feel about the Sustainibility report for the MTA? Do you feel that this will help with the renewal of the system and rebuild the foundation, or do you think the system is getting ahead of itself, considering “green” factors without strengthening its structure? Alongside, do you think that artificial intelligence is a good idea? In Intelligence Explosion: Evidence and Import, it was pointed out that an uncontrolled intelligence explosion could result disastrous. Similarly to the MTA system, when creating something so significant, do you think that people try to jump ahead to the good things, (ex: the MTA to provide transportation to all of New York City,) but fail to consider structure and risks (the MTA foundation and protection in face of things like weather impact)? Should AI be created and expanded?

Engage: Successful waste management methods in NYC

After reading Incinerators in Disguise, we have come to an understanding that numerous waste treatment projects were essentially failures, whether it was shot down during the late proposal stages or others after it tried to manage, unsuccessfully, for several years. We can conclude that many projects are just claims. These projects that can benefit or negatively affect millions of people, have not been analyzed down to the microscopic details such as equipment failure or protection. How do you feel about proposals for solid waste management technologies in New York City? Do you trust the Department of Sanitation and mayor Bloomberg and the rest to inspect proposals and choose a technology that will really actually benefit our community, and in a city with such a large population, what waste management method and location will work into our city’s infrastructure without the people intervening negatively?

Memo 1 – Research Topic: Urban Farming

To: Professor MacBride

From: Jessica Lin

Date: February 13, 2013

Re: Urban Farming in NYC

I plan to explore rooftop farming in New York City. Since New York City is an urban setting full of buildings and skyscrapers, there are many buildings capable of supporting rooftop farms. Rooftop agriculture is a self-sustaining method to provide food locally to its residents. It maximizes our resources and space without invading the city life. Benefits to local produce include fresher and nutritious food for you. But also, urban farming can help to cool and control temperatures, and help to reduce water run off during storms. It helps to cool down buildings, which in turn reduces energy consumption.

I would like to explore the methods of urban agriculture, find information on the rooftop farms that already exist in areas like the Bronx and Brooklyn, and see what future plans exist. If rooftop farming is implemented throughout the entire city, what benefits and results will it have, statistically, on the amount of people it can feed, the estimated overall temperature reduction, and money saved from energy consumption. I think a good source of information would be to visit the sites that already exist, such as Brooklyn Grange or Bright Farms. I may have some trouble trying to collect statistics since urban agriculture is still a fairly recent development.

Comments by Jessica Lin

"When we think about what makes New York City, New York City, the MTA system is a significant factor. Greening the MTA means they are strongly supporting sustainability, energy efficiency, responses to climate change, etc. This sets a great model and influence on many people and on much of NYC that says climate change is real! The money and taxes you put into the MTA is not only being spent on your transportation but on an effort to go green and become sustainable and efficient. Whether you like it and believe it or not, it's happening. I think it would encourage people to become more educated on this issue and perhaps support it because it builds more credibility. After hurricane Sandy, I believe people might become more environmentally and ecologically conscious but would focus more on adaptation methods such as building floodgates etc. to face these problems, than on the reasons why such severe weather is happening (pollution, carbon, etc) and how to reverse its effects (going green, becoming sustainable)."
--( posted on Mar 18, 2013, commenting on the post How Green Technology/Infrastructure Can Combat Climate Changes )
"I think the risk - based approach mentioned by Yohe and Leichenko which combines both mitigation and adaptation is the best way to react to risks and climate change. the Risk based approach maximizes the protection of the city's infrastructure and overrall function of the city. NPCC cannot solely focus on adaptation strategies without mitigation strategies. One day climate change will overrun us and it will exceed our ability to adapt to it. Adaptation should be a long term but 'temporary' method while we try mitigation."
--( posted on Feb 10, 2013, commenting on the post Risked-Based Approach in a (World) Risk Society )
"In Norgaard's piece, she mentioned the factor of guilt being a major reason as to why people refuse to acknowledge climate change; to believe that ignoring it will make it seem like it's not there. I don't believe that is necessarily true. I think the mindset of many individuals believe that the effects of one person on the earth will not make a difference, and therefore there is not much guilt instilled in these individuals anyway. It is the overall compilation of the effects of billions of people in the world that really causes climate change, and if a large body does not take action, such as the government, than an individual does not need to act and even if one does, it will be ineffective. This might be a game of shifting the blame, but maybe that comes hand in hand with guilt. Living in a society such as New York City, which has growing focus on climate change, I don't believe that the feeling of hopelessness should be as strong. Yes, we may fear because there is no way to stop mother nature from acting the way that it does in response to what we have done to the earth. However, we are taking action to handle disasters, even though we refused to ignore the warnings and suffered extreme damages in events such as Hurricane Sandy, I think we will learn from our mistakes. Even in situations like these, where government preparation proved to be inadequate and unprepared, thousands of people came together to help the affected communities. I myself visited Rockaway Beach after the hurricane and there were countless number of volunteers and volunteer stations set up to help. Groups of people were walking around the entire stretch of the neighborhood to offer help in various ways. When groups and organizations are formed, I actually think a fairly large amount of people become active in this matter. I believe it is understood that such a grave event like Hurricane Sandy did not just happen out of no where and that the underlying effect was due to climate change. If our government fails to protect us or set up effective ways to fight back, it knows it will undergo extreme criticism. Many people have an idea of what is going on, and the goal now should be to get people more involved and active not only after bad situations occur, but to become involved daily to mitigate these bad situations before they occur. People will be involved in these issues because it has proven to effect many directly and they will take measures to protect themselves."
--( posted on Feb 10, 2013, commenting on the post Climate Change: Why Do American’s Ignore it? )