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The view from a Brooklyn Rooftop Farm (Photo: Inhabit)

NEIGHBORHOOD ROOFTOP VENTURES


INCENTIVIZING URBAN ROOFTOP FARMING, GREEN ROOFS AND SOLAR / WIND POWER FOR PHILADELPHIA NEIGHBORHOODS

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ............................................................................................................................ 2 INTRODUCTION TO NEIGHBORHOOD ROOFTOP VENTURES ...................................................................... 2 FINANCING........................................................................................................................................... 4 SOURCES OF FUNDING ...................................................................................................................... 4 Loan Repayment ......................................................................................................................... 5 URBAN ROOFTOP FARMING................................................................................................................... 6 URBAN ENERGY-PRODUCING ROOFTOPS ............................................................................................... 7 NONPROFIT PARTNERSHIPS ................................................................................................................. 7 POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS ................................................................................................................ 9 REPORT LIMITATIONS ............................................................................................................................ 10 CONCLUSIONS ................................................................................................................................... 11 Appendix A: Potential Urban Farming NRV Program Assistance .......................................... 12 Urban Rooftop Farming Non-profit Consortium ................................................................... 12 Philadelphia Agencies ................................................................................................................ 1 Appendix B: Three Green Philadelphia Plans ............................................................................. 1 Green City, Clean Waters; Philadelphia Water Department .............................................. 1 Greenworks Philadelphia, City of Philadelphia ...................................................................... 1 Green 2015, City of Philadelphia .............................................................................................. 1

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The release of three plans by the City of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Water
Department to green Philadelphia in various ways creates opportunity for utilizing row house rooftops, which are currently wasted or worse, cause energy drains. This report recommends that Philadelphia create a Neighborhood Rooftop Venture (NRV) program, which would allow neighborhoods to aggregate rooftops and create urban farms or energy. For funding, the report recommends that the City set up a low-interest revolving loan pool which would allow NRVs to invest in revenueproducing green rooftop projects with no or low capital costs. This program would particularly benefit low-income neighborhoods, as they will have a way to create revenue and save money on energy that requires no upfront costs. NRVs could produce power through wind or solar, or through co-operative farming ventures.
Green roofs in the Faroe Islands (photo by Erik Christensen, Wikimedia Commons)

INTRODUCTION TO NEIGHBORHOOD ROOFTOP VENTURES Opportunity exists on Philadelphias flat plains of row house roofs.

Black row

house roofs contribute to the urban heat island effect, increase the cost of cooling houses, decrease energy efficiency, and contribute to stormwater run-off issues. Green roofs are an attractive way to address these negative effects while also decreasing air

Page |3 pollution and extending roof-life.1 Energy-producing roofs are a way to change wasted, costly space into a revenue-producing and/or energy-saving space. The timing has never been better to convert our unproductive roof plains into productive farms and energy. In the last two years, the City of Philadelphia has released three ambitious and forward-looking plans, Greenworks Philadelphia, Green 2015, and Green City, Clean Waters. These plans aim to make Philadelphia greener, more energy efficient and equitable in food access. The existence and goals of these plans provides the regulatory momentum necessary to accomplish the idea set forth in this report. 2

A piecemeal, individual approach to installing green and energy-producing roofs across the city would be inefficient use of resources. A more efficient way would be for row house blocks to band together in Neighborhood Rooftop Ventures (NRVs) and lease their rooftops to an urban farmer or solar/wind companies like a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). NRVs would decrease marginal installation costs while increasing rapidly the benefits of energy efficiency and revenue production. More importantly, NRVs would allow low-income neighborhoods to participate in greening and money-saving and producing initiatives because up-front capital costs are covered by the alternative energy companies, grants or low-cost loans. NRVs could be revenue-producing businesses, co-ops or non-profits, creating jobs, efficiencies and saving money. NRVs could provide first-step jobs and skills training for low-income and

DeNardo, J.C.; Jarrett, A.R.; Manbeck, H.B.; Beattie, D.J.; Berghage, R.D. 2005. Stormwater mitigation and surface temperature reduction by green roofs. Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Vol. 48(4): 1491-1496. http://asae.frymulti.com/abstract.asp?aid=19181&t=1 2 See Appendix B for more information on each plan
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Page |4 minority populations. Creating policy initiatives for NRVs could be the lowest cost way to implement Greenworks energy efficiency and urban farming goals.

FINANCING The financing structure would require low-interest loans and grants.

This report

proposes a revolving loan pool financed with various state and federal grants and PECO seed money for NRVs. A City agency or nonprofit would have to be appointed with the task of disbursing loans and information.

SOURCES OF FUNDING

The state allows PECO to spend up to two percent of its rate base, which
amounts $85 million annually, to reduce energy consumption by increasing targets.3 There are several initiatives through various agencies and programs that could set aside some financing for this initiative, such as the Philadelphia Home Improvement Loan Program (Redevelopment Authority), and Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds. The City of Philadelphia was also granted $25 million through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, which is an ideal fit.4 The U.S. Department of Energy has granted more than $350 million to Pennsylvania for weatherization and energy conservation.5 Some of this funding could be used for a revolving fund for Philadelphians. Other options for funding NRVs include taxing regular black roofing materials to better catch their social costs of increasing heating and cooling costs and
Greenworks Philadelphia. 2009. Pg 12. http://www.phila.gov/green/greenworks/pdf/Greenworks_OnlinePDF_FINAL.pdf Vice President Biden announces $25 million for major new energy efficiency effort in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. City of Philadelphia. Press release 4/21/2010. Accessed 12/14/2010. http://cityofphiladelphia.wordpress.com/ 5 Obama-Biden administration announces more than $353.4 million in weatherization funding and energy efficiency grants for Pennsylvania. United States Department of Energy. 3/12/2009. Online Press release. Accessed 12/14/2010. http://www.energy.gov/7042.htm
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Page |5 contributing to the urban heat island effect. This tax would then go into a fund for NRVs. Taxing black roofing could prove a burden on low-income families; some type of assistance or relief may be needed.

Loan Repayment

This report recommends a loan repayment structure that allows NRVs to repay
loans through resident savings on utility bills. Under this structure, PECO would deduct installments from the energy savings from NRV residents utility bills. This creates an automatic payback scheme that does not involve upfront costs or additional money needed for loan payments. This structure allows the loan repayment to stay with the house, not the owner, which makes sale of NRV houses easier.

Philadelphia has precedent to follow: Cambridge Energy Alliance in Massachusetts arranged for low-cost loans with banks that are repaid through savings on utility bills.6 In California, BerkeleyFIRST pays the upfront cost of solar-panel installation and recoups costs through homeowners property tax bill.7 This type of repayment scheme also has precedent within state law, as it is similar to Pennsylvanias Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA), which allows municipalities to contract with energy service companies that implement energy savings projects and are paid back through the savings from the energy conservation, avoiding expensive capital costs.

Cambridge Energy Alliance. 2009. http://cambridgeenergyalliance.org/residents/faq City of Berkeley Office of Energy and Sustainable Development. Berkeley FIRST Pilot Evaluation. 2010. http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/uploadedFiles/Planning_and_Development/Level_3__Energy_and_Sustainable_Development/Berkeley%20FIRST%20Initial%20%20Evaluation%20%20final%20(2).pdf
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URBAN ROOFTOP FARMING Urban rooftop farming (URF) takes Green Roofs a step further by making rooftops
a source of revenue and fresh local food. In Brooklyn and Queens, factory roofs are being converted to urban farms that sell produce to grocery stores, restaurants and neighbors.8 URF is a relatively new concept with several regulatory barriers to overcome, but the combination of urban farming and green roofs provides excellent benefits we cannot ignore. URFs provide insulation, reduction of heating and cooling cost, local food, economic opportunities, and community building and development opportunities.9 Not all rooftops or vacant lots are appropriate for urban farming, but many are. Urban farms and green roofs both raise property values, increase peoples access to green space (which has a positive effect on health in itself) and reduce air and water pollution.10 The infrastructure to support a local food economy is growing: currently Philadelphia supports 200 food-producing gardens, 30 outdoor seasonal farmers markets.11 Urban roof farming, and urban agriculture for that matter, should be encouraged and allowed to happen as one of a diverse toolbox of planning initiatives for healthy, local economies. NRVs for Urban Rooftop Farming NRVs could create a co-op and hire a farmer. The co-op could then harvest rooftop food to sell to neighbors, neighborhood restaurants and food distribution systems. To the owners of the rooftops, the farmer would then provide a dividend from produce sales or free produce. The pinnacle Philadelphia co-op model is Weavers Way Co-op,
Cardwell, Diane. Six Stories Above Queens, a Fine Spot for a Little Farming. New York Times. 5/13/2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/14/nyregion/14farm.html?_r=1 9 To see international urban rooftop farms, head here http://www.cityfarmer.org/subrooftops.html 10 ERICA OBERNDORFER, JEREMY LUNDHOLM, BRAD BASS, REID R. COFFMAN, HITESH DOSHI, NIGEL DUNNETT, STUART GAFFIN, MANFRED KHLER, KAREN K. Y. LIU, BRADLEY ROWE. 2007. Green roofs as urban ecosystems: ecological structures, functions, and services. BioScience. 57:10, 823-833. http://caliber.ucpress.net/doi/abs/10.1641/B571005 11 Greenworks Philadelphia. 2009. http://www.phila.gov/green/greenworks/pdf/Greenworks_OnlinePDF_FINAL.pdf
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Page |7 which could provide expertise and advising for creating regulatory drivers, educational documents and training neighborhood leaders how to set up a co-op. Additionally, NRVs could lease rooftops to a farming company and use revenue to supplement income or add to utility-payments to pay back loans faster.

URBAN ENERGY-PRODUCING ROOFTOPS Row house rooftops can be an expensive energy drain.

Many row house roofs

are wasted space, as residents either do not have roof access or cannot afford to build roof decks. Low-income residents pay a higher percentage of their income to energy costs due to inefficient houses and lack of education. Urban Energy-Producing Rooftops (UERs) could provide a way to lower energy costs as well as provide a revenue source for no-upfront costs. UERs could work with solar or upright wind turbines, but as with URFs, not all areas are suited to solar or wind.

NONPROFIT PARTNERSHIPS

There are already initiatives for low-income energy assistance of which NRVs
could become a part. For low-income residents Philadelphias Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) pools funding from various sources and implements energy conservation in low-income neighborhoods through Neighborhood Energy Centers.12 NRVs could become an option that Neighborhood Energy Centers promotes in areas where they think NRVs could thrive. ECA would then get additional funding for their program to market NRVs and work with other nonprofit and city agencies to implement them.

Institute for Sustainable Communities, Living Cities. Case Study: Philadelphia. 08/2010. Climate Leadership Academy Network. http://www.iscvt.org/resources/documents/philadelphia_ECA.pdf
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Page |8 NRVs for Urban Energy-Producing Rooftops NRVs could lease their rooftops to energy firms in Power Purchasing Agreements (PPAs). The energy companies pay upfront capital costs with assistance from low-interest loans from City and sell the energy back to the NRVs at a discount to PECO rates. This would also create stable energy prices for low-income homes, which is especially important in the first few years of PA deregulation. A subtle change that is needed for PPAs is Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE financing, which is what was used for BerkeleyFIRST, mentioned earlier. This allows repayment of capital costs of energy installation through an increase in property taxes. This may be more attractive in higher-income areas, as then people get to feel the off-the-grid feeling.

NRVs could contract with home energy efficiency firms like The Mark Group, based in Philadelphia, in aggregate to reduce installation costs and receive bulk discounts. This would not create revenue; however, it would utilize existing resources. Another option is for the City, nonprofits, philanthropies or power companies (or a consortium thereof) finance the installation outright, allowing low-income NRVs to pay little- to nothing- for energy costs and allowing them to collect revenue on energy sold back to the grid. Or perhaps the financiers receive only the revenue from energy sold to the grid as loan repayment, creating an incentive to also concurrently install weatherization and energy-saving measures.

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POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
Building Codes

As Greenworks recommended, the City should move quickly to implement new


building codes that creates safe energy efficiency and stormwater standards for all new construction and extensive remodels in the city. There is simply no reason not to build to good standards as it is the City and taxpayers that pay the social cost of poorly designed construction. The Capital Budget Office (City of Philadelphia) has already required white or green roofs to be installed on new public buildings and when roofs need replacing. PWD mandates all new construction projects in city deal with the first inch of rainwater on-site. These steps are important and need code. The City will also have to expand and write code for URFs and UERs.

The City should pass legislation setting up a revolving low-interest loan program
to fund NVPs and divert funding to this pool. The City should also divert federal weatherization and energy funds to fund a non-profit consortium consisting of neighborhood groups, PHS, urban farming nonprofits, libraries, job training nonprofits, churches and YMCAs to help implement NVPs around the city. Urban Rooftop Farms

For URFs, Philadelphia should follow the City of Seattles lead and create a Year
of Urban Agriculture that will increase awareness. The City should also hire a Regional Food Policy Director that works in the Mayors Office of Sustainability, as other cities have done. Mayors Office of Sustainability has said it will create online web tool to connect farmers with inventory of land available for growing. This inventory should

P a g e | 10 include NRVs interested in partnering with farmers. The City should also quickly enact Greenworks proposals, such as setting up a Philadelphia Food Policy Council. Composting

The City should also follow the lead of more than 90 U.S. cities that collect and
compost food-waste, which will help meet the Greenworks goal of reducing solid waste production by 75 percent, while providing soil for URFs.13 Another option would be for the City to contract with private companies already offering composting services like Bennett Composting to offer composting to under-served neighborhoods. Lastly, the City could set up a program that would serve as a complement to NVPs that would encourage Neighborhood Composting Ventures (NCVs), whereupon vacant and blighted land is used to compost, and the finished product is sold to NVPs, urban gardening centers, and neighbors.

REPORT LIMITATIONS This report is not a complete, ready-to-implement plan and is by no means
exhaustive. This report serves as an initial introduction to an idea that could help meet Greenworks goals by using the momentum behind Greenworks and stormwater fee revisions to create revenue-producing initiatives for neighborhoods. There are many details and regulations that will have to be worked out, but this is beyond the scope of this report. This report does not contain recommendations for how to convince Landlords, especially those that own large parts of city blocks, to be part of NRVs since they do not

Yepsen, Rhodes. U.S. Residential Food Waste Collection and Composting. BioCycle. 12/2009. Vol. 50, No. 12, p. 35. http://www.jgpress.com/archives/_free/001992.html
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P a g e | 11 pay energy costs. Their property value will increase, and they could increase rent, although in low-income areas, rent-increases are not ideal. Ideas include a revenuesharing or fee program between tenant and landlord or additional rental regulations requiring investments in energy efficiency. While the author does not see this as an insurmountable hurdle, the rental/landlord relationship and how it relates to NRVs will require thought. This report also does not address how to build urban roof farms or urban energyproducing roofs or how to write any code thereof. Building code will need to be written and expanded for energy-producing roofs and urban farming roofs. In low-income areas with severely dilapidated buildings, NRVs may prove impossible if buildings need substantial investments to even get the roofs able to carry extra weight.

CONCLUSIONS
Neighborhood rooftop ventures (NRVs) could be a creative and lower cost way to provide economic development while meeting green goals laid out in recent Philadelphia reports. By aggregating rooftops, neighborhoods increase their purchasing and bargaining power, while reducing installation and transport costs. Additionally, NRVs could be a lower-cost way to implement money-saving and producing green initiatives by having low- to no- upfront capital costs, and payback through savings rather than cash. NRVs could turn unproductive, energy-draining rooftops into productive spaces that help air pollution, stormwater management, and energy conservation. The Philadelphia urban farming renaissance could help provide grassroots support for NRVs in urban farming. For the Philadelphia region, this program

P a g e | 12 would help bring together initiatives and programs to create a collaborative effort. While all implemented taxes or initiatives will need oversight to ensure they are implemented equitably, this could be done through a centralized agency. In conclusion, setting up a low-interest revolving fund using available fudning mechanisms could advance Philadelphias green goals and provide income-generating ventures for low-income families in the city.

Appendix A: Potential Urban Farming NRV Program Assistance


Urban Rooftop Farming Non-profit Consortium
This list is by no means exhaustive, but represents what the composition of a Consortium may look like. Philadelphia is fortunate to have a bevy of nonprofits and neighborhood associations that would contribute greatly. - The Common Market - Weavers Way Co-op and Farm Philadelphia - Mill Creek Farm - Greensgrow Farm - Urban Nutrition Initiative - City Harvest program(run by - Norris Square Neighborhood Philadelphia Horticultural Society, Project Philadelphia Prison system, Health - PA Association for Sustainable Promotion Council of Agriculture Southeastern Pennsylvania) - Philadelphia Association of - The Enterprise Center Community Development Corps. - Food Trust - Teens4Good - Farm to Philly - SHARE - Fresh Food Financing Initiative - Philadelphia Horticultural Society (run by Food trust, Reinvestment - Philadelphia Zoo (could source Fund, Greater Philadelphia Urban locally-grown food for animals Affairs Coalition, Food Trusts from West Philadelphia) Healthy Corner Store Initiative) - Buy Fresh Buy Local - Farm to City - Urban Tree Connection - Fair Food Farm to Institution - Nationalities Service Center project from White Dog Caf - HIAS and Council Foundation

Page |1 South of South Neighborhood - Aramingo Development Association Association Northern Liberties Neighbors - Andorra Homes Civic Association Association - Korean Community Development Washington Square West Civic Services Association - Cambodian Association of Bella Vista Neighbors Greater Philadelphia Area colleges, universities and technical schools

Philadelphia Agencies
Commerce Department Philadelphia Water Department Redevelopment Authority Department of Public Health Mayors Office of Sustainbility Workforce Investment Board Office of Housing and Community Development

Appendix B: Three Green Philadelphia Plans


In the last two years, Philadelphia has released three ambitious plans that aim to increase green space, manage stormwater run-off and make Philadelphia the greenest city in America. This momentum is ushering in smarter and holistic planning goals and economic development plans.

Green City, Clean Waters; Philadelphia Water Department


The Philadelphia Water Departments Green City, Clean Waters program uses green infrastructure and smart incentives to meet a federal mandate to reduce stormwater events. Previously, PWD charged stormwater fees by how much water a property used creating a pervese incentive that allowed many properties that created the most stormwater run-off to pay little- to no- fees. The new fee structure charges by amount of impervious surface on a property and includes previously un-charged structures like parking lots and more correctly captures the social cost of stormwater run-off in its fees. PWD offers free consulting to help businesses reduce stormwater fees through identifying ways to reduce run-off through green roofs, rain barrels, rain gardens and pervious pavement. This initiative will increase green roof cover in Philadelphia while providing Philadelphians with the less expensive option than building new infrastructure to meet the mandate. The program aims to have 3500 acres of greenspace and pervious pavement by 2015. The installation of rain barrels and green roofs could help urban roof farming.

Greenworks Philadelphia, City of Philadelphia


The second plan is the result of Mayor Nutters goal to make Philadelphia the greenest city in America. The 2009 report, called Greenworks Philadelphia, is a comprehensive

Page |1 set of economic development, planning, energy and greenspace goals for the city of Philadelphia to meet by 2015 and 2025. The report makes use of commissioned economic studies, examples from around the world and the U.S., and non-profit work to try to harness Philadelphias human capital. The energy, food, equity and greenspace goals of Greenworks can be achieved in part by NRVs.

Green 2015, City of Philadelphia


The third plan, which Greenworks drew upon, is Green 2015, which calls for using empty or underused land to create 500 acres of new green space by 2015.14

Mayor Nutter announces plan to transform 500 acres into public green space. Greenworks Philadelphia Blog. 12/8/2010. http://greenworksphila.wordpress.com/
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