NYC Parks Youth Sustainability Corp Install 2,000 Sq Ft of Green Roof Atop St. Mary’s Rec Center in the Bronx




Green Roof atop St. Mary’s Rec Center, Bronx. Image credit: NYC Parks/Malcolm Pinckney

This month, (March, 2022), New York City students made the Bronx a little greener by installing 2,000 square feet of green roof atop the St. Mary’s Recreation Center in the South Bronx. As the very first class of Youth Sustainability Corps (YSC), these 30 local High School and College students, under the tutelage of NYC Parks green infrastructure experts, planned new green roof systems which will be installed on 50,000 sqft of Parks’ facility rooftops over the coming months. The roof at St. Mary’s – which the students installed themselves – is the first of six sites that will be built out. YSC students also installed new stormwater control measures on the roof at St. Mary’s, and built new raised planting beds, which will grow seasonal vegetables this year.

Image credit: NYC Parks/Malcolm Pinckney

“On day one on the Youth Sustainability Corps internship, many of the students had never even seen a green roof before, but today they can look out over 2,000 sqft of new sustainable infrastructure that they planned and built by hand,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “As Parks has been a leader in green roofs and workforce development in New York City, we’re proud to leverage our expertise in both to teach the next generation, and give them a head start on a future in green careers.” 

DYCD couldn’t be more proud of our thirty Work, Learn & Grow students whose hands-on expertise transformed a South Bronx rooftop and set the stage for the greening of five more across the City in the coming months,” said DYCD Deputy Commissioner for Workforce Connect Valerie Mulligan. “What the Youth Sustainability Corps achieved in just a few short months will benefit our environment for years to come—and it left participants with the work readiness skills they need to explore in-demand careers and environmental justice. Special thanks to the Parks Department, the Mayor’s Office of Youth Employment, and the City Cleanup Corps for joining DYCD in this innovative partnership for a greener and more sustainable New York City.

Image credit: NYC Parks/Malcolm Pinckney

Launched in December 2021, NYC Parks partnered with DYCD, the Mayor’s Office of Youth Employment, and the City Cleanup Corps to develop the very first Youth Sustainability Corps (YSC), a specialized Parks green job internship program within DYCD’s Work Learn Grow program where students gain work readiness, explore careers in the green economy, and receive targeted employment training and skills development with a focus on environmental justice and the City’s overall recovery. Parks’ YSC students worked 75 hours on weekends and school breaks through March 5, 2022, getting technical training from NYC Parks’ experts on sustainable facilities to plan out the innovative green roof infrastructure. They will get hands-on experience in the full scope of green roof installation, and learn about systemic environmental challenges and a broad range of sustainable solutions NYC Parks is piloting. These program components, combined and funded through the City Cleanup Corps economic recovery program, served young people with 225 hours of program, for a total earnings of $3,375 per student.

In tandem with the launch of YSC, Parks committed to expand green roofs on Parks-owned buildings by 50,000 sqft–bringing the agency’s total to 250,000 sqft. At a cost of only $14 per square foot, Parks’ green roofs are an economical feature that result in cost savings over time. The estimated cost of installing this additional 50,000 sqft is only $500,000 and will provide projected savings of approximately $8.65 million to the City.

Image credit: NYC Parks/Malcolm Pinckney

Beginning April 2022, the new green roofs will be built at the following locations:

  • Brooklyn: Prospect Park Garage (12,500 sqft)
  • Bronx: Kwame Ture Recreation Center (4,500 sqft)
  • Manhattan: Sheltering Arms Pool House (5,500 sqft)
  • Queens: Rockaway Beach 17 Street Operations Building (6,500 sqft)
  • Staten Island: Midland Beach Playground Comfort Station (2,500 sqft)
Image credit: NYC Parks/Malcolm Pinckney

Since 2008, Parks has taken green space to new heights by building green roofs on 33 facilities across the city. Parks currently maintains more than 200,000 square feet of rooftop systems, including native plants, sedums, green walls, hydroponic towers, a vegetable and herb farm, and honeybee hives. When the additional 50,000 sq ft of green roofs are installed, one quarter of all Parks flat rooftops will have green roofs. The total 250,000+ sqft of green roofs will capture nearly 8 million gallons of stormwater annually, keeping the water from entering the City’s already overstressed sewer system. Additionally, green roofs lower black roof temperatures by up to 90 degrees.  

Read more about the Youth Sustainability Corps

Did you know that the Javits Center has the largest Green Roof in New York City?