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Dataset Open Access

Green Roofs Footprints for New York City, Assembled from Available Data and Remote Sensing

Treglia, Michael L.; McPhearson, Timon; Sanderson, Eric W.; Yetman, Greg; Maxwell, Emily Nobel


The files contained herein represent green roof footprints in NYC visible in 2016 high-resolution orthoimagery of NYC (described at https://github.com/CityOfNewYork/nyc-geo-metadata/blob/master/Metadata/Metadata_AerialImagery.md). Previously documented green roofs were aggregated in 2016 from multiple data sources including from NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, greenroofs.com, and greenhomenyc.org. Footprints of the green roof surfaces were manually digitized based on the 2016 imagery, and a sample of other roof types were digitized to create a set of training data for classification of the imagery. A Mahalanobis distance classifier was employed in Google Earth Engine, and results were manually corrected, removing non-green roofs that were classified and adjusting shape/outlines of the classified green roofs to remove significant errors based on visual inspection with imagery across multiple time points. Ultimately, these initial data represent an estimate of where green roofs existed as of the imagery used, in 2016.

These data are associated with an existing GitHub Repository, https://github.com/tnc-ny-science/NYC_GreenRoofMapping, and as needed and appropriate pending future work, versioned updates will be released here.

Terms of Use:

The Nature Conservancy and co-authors of this work shall not be held liable for improper or incorrect use of the data described and/or contained herein. Any sale, distribution, loan, or offering for use of these digital data, in whole or in part, is prohibited without the approval of The Nature Conservancy and co-authors. The use of these data to produce other GIS products and services with the intent to sell for a profit is prohibited without the written consent of The Nature Conservancy and co-authors. All parties receiving these data must be informed of these restrictions. Authors of this work shall be acknowledged as data contributors to any reports or other products derived from these data.

Associated Files:

As of this release, the specific files included here are:

  • GreenRoofData2016_20180917.geojson is in the human-readable, GeoJSON format, in geographic coordinates (Lat/Long, WGS84; EPSG 4263).
  • GreenRoofData2016_20180917.gpkg is in the GeoPackage format, which is an Open Standard readable by most GIS software including Esri products (tested on ArcMap 10.3.1 and multiple versions of QGIS). This dataset is in the New York State Plan Coordinate System (units in feet) for the Long Island Zone, North American Datum 1983, EPSG 2263.
  • GreenRoofData2016_20180917_Shapefile.zip is a zipped folder containing a Shapefile and associated files. Please note that some field names were truncated due to limitations of Shapefiles, but columns are in the same order as for other files and in the same order as listed below. This dataset is in the New York State Plan Coordinate System (units in feet) for the Long Island Zone, North American Datum 1983, EPSG 2263.
  • GreenRoofData2016_20180917.csv is a comma-separated values file (CSV) with coordinates for centroids for the green roofs stored in the table itself. This allows for easily opening the data in a tool like spreadsheet software (e.g., Microsoft Excel) or a text editor.

Column Information for the datasets:

Some, but not all fields were joined to the green roof footprint data based on building footprint and tax lot data; those datasets are embedded as hyperlinks below.

  • fid - Unique identifier
  • bin - NYC Building ID Number based on overlap between green roof areas and a building footprint dataset for NYC from August, 2017. (Newer building footprint datasets do not have linkages to the tax lot identifier (bbl), thus this older dataset was used). The most current building footprint dataset should be available at: https://data.cityofnewyork.us/Housing-Development/Building-Footprints/nqwf-w8eh. Associated metadata for fields from that dataset are available at https://github.com/CityOfNewYork/nyc-geo-metadata/blob/master/Metadata/Metadata_BuildingFootprints.md.
  • bbl - Boro Block and Lot number as a single string. This field is a tax lot identifier for NYC, which can be tied to the Digital Tax Map (http://gis.nyc.gov/taxmap/map.htm) and PLUTO/MapPLUTO (https://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/data-maps/open-data/dwn-pluto-mappluto.page). Metadata for fields pulled from PLUTO/MapPLUTO can be found in the PLUTO Data Dictionary found on the aforementioned page. All joins to this bbl were based on MapPLUTO version 18v1.
  • gr_area - Total area of the footprint of the green roof as per this data layer, in square feet, calculated using the projected coordinate system (EPSG 2263).
  • bldg_area - Total area of the footprint of the associated building, in square feet, calculated using the projected coordinate system (EPSG 2263).
  • prop_gr - Proportion of the building covered by green roof according to this layer (gr_area/bldg_area).
  • cnstrct_yr - Year the building was constructed, pulled from the Building Footprint data.
  • doitt_id - An identifier for the building assigned by the NYC Dept. of Information Technology and Telecommunications, pulled from the Building Footprint Data.
  • heightroof - Height of the roof of the associated building, pulled from the Building Footprint Data.
  • feat_code - Code describing the type of building, pulled from the Building Footprint Data.
  • groundelev - Lowest elevation at the building level, pulled from the Building Footprint Data.
  • qa - Flag indicating a positive QA/QC check (using multiple types of imagery); all data in this dataset should have 'Good'
  • notes - Any notes about the green roof taken during visual inspection of imagery; for example, it was noted if the green roof appeared to be missing in newer imagery, or if there were parts of the roof for which it was unclear whether there was green roof area or potted plants.
  • classified - Flag indicating whether the green roof was detected image classification. (1 for yes, 0 for no)
  • digitized - Flag indicating whether the green roof was digitized prior to image classification and used as training data. (1 for yes, 0 for no)
  • newlyadded - Flag indicating whether the green roof was detected solely by visual inspection after the image classification and added. (1 for yes, 0 for no)
  • original_source - Indication of what the original data source was, whether a specific website, agency such as NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation (DPR), or NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Multiple sources are separated by a slash.
  • address - Address based on MapPLUTO, joined to the dataset based on bbl.
  • borough - Borough abbreviation pulled from MapPLUTO.
  • ownertype - Owner type field pulled from MapPLUTO.
  • zonedist1 - Zoning District 1 type pulled from MapPLUTO.
  • spdist1 - Special District 1 pulled from MapPLUTO.
  • bbl_fixed - Flag to indicate whether bbl was manually fixed. Since tax lot data may have changed slightly since the release of the building footprint data used in this work, a small percentage of bbl codes had to be manually updated based on overlay between the green roof footprint and the MapPLUTO data, when no join was feasible based on the bbl code from the building footprint data. (1 for yes, 0 for no)

For GreenRoofData2016_20180917.csv there are two additional columns, representing the coordinates of centroids in geographic coordinates (Lat/Long, WGS84; EPSG 4263):

  • xcoord - Longitude in decimal degrees.
  • ycoord - Latitude in decimal degrees.


This work was primarily supported through funding from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, awarded to the New York City Program of The Nature Conservancy, with additional support from the New York Community Trust, through New York City Audubon and the Green Roof Researchers Alliance.

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