Legal Blog

Real Estate Focus: “Green” Rooftops Good for Development and the Environment?

Have you ever been on a rooftop in a city – any city – and felt a certain sense of peace or luxury? At one time, rooftops were a place for utilities-related vents and select storage. However, they are now “destinations” in both the residential and commercial real estate sphere. Interestingly, certain localities are incentivizing, and in some cases, requiring, the inclusion of green rooftops.

Green rooftops include layers of soil and plants on the surface of a roof – taking the place of the traditional asphalt. These mini-ecosystems promote stormwater management and support plant growth. According to the New York Times, green rooftops also reduce air pollution and air conditioning costs in buildings by as much as 75 percent.  Positive effects also include an overall reduction of greenhouse gases.

Localities across the U.S. and Canada have made the inclusion of green rooftops in future development mandatory in certain instances. New York has followed suit recently, passing a similar law that requires developers in the City to include solar panels or green space.

Locally, Washington, D.C. green roof areas are not mandatory, however, the City is promoting them by using an incentive program. The District’s RiverSmart Rooftops Program offers a rebate of $10 to $15 for the voluntary installation of a green roof.  Applicants must demonstrate that their proposed development meets the city’s stormwater standards. It is likely that other localities in the Virginia/Maryland markets will take a similar approach in the future. I recommend watching this trend and considering it as an addition to your next investment. The contribution to the environment and potential savings in energy costs appear to be good for long term growth.

If you have any questions about this or any other Real Estate topics, please contact me at or 703-745-1849



Theodora Stringham assists individuals, businesses, and organizations with growing successfully while minimizing liability. Focusing on real estate and personnel needs, Ms. Stringham executes sustainable plans for real estate development and employee matters. She provides comprehensive representation for everyday growth issues, including, but not limited to, re-zonings, site plan approvals, eminent domain/valuation concerns, employment discrimination, and disciplinary issues. Ms. Stringham’s scope of representation ranges from identifying potential liability and providing counseling/trainings, all the way through representation at trial.






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