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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is cool roof coating?
A: A Cool Roof coating is a highly-reflective white membrane that is rolled or sprayed onto flat roofs. The coating reflects 70% to 90% of the sun's energy when newly installed. When deciding which coating product to purchase, look for coatings marked ENERGY STAR®, the industry standard for quality certification.

Q: What types of roofs can be coated?
A: Suitable roof types include granule, smooth asphalt and smooth aluminum. Roof types that are not suitable include gravel roofs, spray foam, TPO, PVC, clay tile, wood shingles, slate and asphalt shingles.

Q: Are there any risks associated with coating my roof?
A: The application of coating will not damage your roof. In fact, coating can extend the life of your roof as well as the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems on the roof.

Q: Will coating my roof significantly increase my heating bills in the winter months?
A: No. Cool roof owners may pay slightly more to heat their buildings during cold weather, however, the amount is usually minimal compared to the energy savings during the summer.

Q: Do I need a permit?
A: No, but make sure that the roof coating product you select is rated for white-roof use and won't void your roof's warranty.

Q: Are there any new Building Code requirements that affect cool roofs?
A: The NYC Building Code requires that 75% of the roof area or setback surface on buildings permitted on or after July 1, 2009 be coated white or rated as highly reflective by ENERGY STAR®.  In addition, alterations involving the recovering or replacing of an existing roof covering shall comply with section 1504.8 of the New York city building code unless the area to be recovered or replaced is less than 50 percent of the roof area and less than 500 square feet. Please consult section 1504.8 of the Building Code for exemptions to these requirements.

In 2012, City Council strengthened its roof coating standards to require the use of more reflective and emissive materials and amended Local Law Number 33 to include alterations involving the recovering or replacing of an existing roof covering. See Local Law 11, 2011 for more information.  

 Q: Are there any LEED points associated with a cool roof?
A: Yes.  You can acquire one point for ‘reduced heat island effect’, and one potential point if the material used is manufactured locally (i.e. within 500  miles of the building).

Q: How physically demanding is the coating of rooftops?
A: You should be reasonably fit, in good health and prepared to work in the sun. If you would like to be a part of this initiative but are unable to contribute by coating, there are other volunteer opportunities available.

Q: Do I need any special skills?
A: No. If you volunteer through the program, you will be provided with on-site training and safety instructions. A NYC °CoolRoofs Team Leader will be present at all times, and you will be provided with essential safety equipment along with instructions for proper use. If you are cooling your own roof, view our °Cool It Yourself Guide for step by step instructions.

Q: What do I need to wear?
A: You must wear closed-toed shoes while on the rooftop. We recommend wearing clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. T-shirts and shorts or jeans are best. We also recommend wearing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.