Hundreds of community members attended the Greenpoint celebration on Saturday afternoon, enjoying food, drinks, live music and a variety of activities. They also got the chance to explore the green roofs, built two years ago to create a natural habitat for birds, bats and insects.
According to Kathryn Heintz, executive director of New York City Audubon, the 22,000-square-foot project was funded by the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF). The roofs include protective and drainage layers, soil and plantings for wildflower meadow and bird habitat.
“The goal of the festival is to give the public an opportunity to learn more about green roofs, bird and insect monitoring,” Heintz said. “This is, to me, a fantastic use of those mitigation funds.”
The roofs are located near Newtown Creek in the middle of an industrial area. Heintz called the region “a green desert,” but the roof provides a place for birds and insects to thrive. It also acts as a community space for events, lectures, tours and other programming.
“New York City is a very urban place, most people are apartment dwellers,” she said. “In my experience, human beings are much happier when they get outside. There aren’t that many places in the city that people can get to that are open with green space.”
New York City Audubon does most of its scientific conservation work in parks and along the water, but roofs can also be part of the equation, Heintz said.
“Birds fly into buildings, they collide with glass,” she said. “By adding green roofs and making sure windows and built structures are as bird friendly as they can be, we’re doing the birds and ourselves a real service.
“What’s good for birds is good for people,” Heintz added.
The festival also highlighted the work of local environmental groups in north Brooklyn, such as the Newtown Creek Alliance, National Wildlife Federation, Wild Bird Fund and others.
“This is a great community space, and we really want it to be thought of in that way,” she said. “We’re looking forward to coming up with what’s the long-term sustainable solution for this space as a community space.”
So far, the green roof has proven to be popular.
“There’s actually more demand for this space than we can accommodate,” she said. “As it continues to grow and establish itself as a community green space, we expect it to be pretty busy.”
Moving forward, Heintz said the roof will continue to be a place where scientists, community groups and advocates present their work about the importance of green infrastructure. They will host a series of talks, lectures and presentations throughout the year.
“We’re really trying to really establish this as a place where people have green infrastructure in mind,” she said. “This is really something we’ve done for the Greenpoint community and beyond to help say something bold about the importance of green roof structures.”