Interactive: New York’s Roofscape Gets Climate Makeover

Witness the evolution of NYC’s billion-square-foot roofscape in the face of climate change.

Most visitors to New York City crane their necks for a view of the city’s famous skyline, but locals know better: To get the best views, you have to go up. Here’s your chance to take a rare—and vivid—journey atop a few of the city’s billion square feet of rooftops.

As the Big Apple faces ever-hotter summers, officials are looking for ways to cool off in some of the only unused space left in a crowded city: rooftops.

Fertile vegetated “green” roofs absorb the sun’s rays, while reflective “white” roofs bounce them back to space. Both are sprouting up in response to a 2008 city rule that requires new roofs to be climate friendly. Meanwhile, the city is working with the Obama administration to overhaul its hulking construction bureaucracy, making it easier for solar panel installers to turn rooftops into the city’s fastest-growing energy provider.

Climate Desk strapped on hardhats, jumped into elevators, and scaled ladders to see firsthand how the roofscape of New York is adapting to face a changing climate.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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