Sustainable Yards focuses on the overlooked cumulative environmental benefits of the 53,000 acres of residential yardspace in New York City. While they are often tucked behind row houses and apartment buildings and not visible from the street, if unpaved, they absorb stormwater at its source, thereby reducing combined sewer overflow events in which untreated sewerage mixes with rainwater through our underground pipe systems in even relatively small rain events. Trees and vegetation planted in these yards improve air quality and quality of life.
Advocating for policy intiatives to highlight the environmental value of small pockets of residential open space is a key function of Sustainable Yards since concrete and other hardscape can be installed in small urban open spaces under the regulatory radar. Concrete or even expensive bluestone yards increase summertime temperatures due to the urban heat island effect and the paucity of trees and vegeation depletes the environment of air and water filtering and cleaning properties.
Aesthetic benefits and increased quality of urban life accrue when we enhance our urban open spaces. Quite simply, we can enjoy city life more if we have a cleaner, greener small garden space. Studies show that even looking at greenery reduces stress and enhances a sense of well-being.
See below for before and after photos of sustainable yard and roof retrofit: