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For Immediate Release
June 1, 2012


Con Edison Joins Department of Buildings & NYC Service to Kick-Off Third Season by Coating Kiely Hall at Queens College

2.6 Million Square Feet of Rooftop Coated since Program’s Launch and Additional One Million Square Feet of Rooftop Space to be Coated in 2012

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri and Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford today launched the third season of NYC °CoolRoofs, a citywide initiative to encourage property owners to cool their rooftops with a white, reflective coating that repeals the sun’s rays. Launched in 2009, the innovative program will help the City reach its PlaNYC goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. By reflecting sunlight instead of absorbing it, white roofs lower a building’s temperature and reduce the amount of energy needed to cool the building. Cool roofs reduce the City’s overall carbon emissions and work against the urban heat island effect, which raises temperatures in metropolitan areas by up to five degrees. The program utilizes the power of volunteers, organized by NYC Service, to help make the coatings possible and affordable. Since the initiative’s inaugural season, 2.6 million square feet of rooftop has been cooled throughout the City with the help of more than 3,000 volunteers.

Commissioner LiMandri and Chief Service Officer Billings-Burford kicked off the third season today with the help of Frances Resheske, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for Con Edison and Queens College President James L. Muyskens by beginning the multi-day coating of 53,000 square feet of rooftop at Queens College in Flushing. This year, the program will coat another million square feet of rooftop with the help of lead sponsor Con Edison.

“All of us can play a role in making New York the greenest, greatest city in the world,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “A cool roof is an easy and effective way to help the City reduce its carbon footprint by 2030, and the tremendous success of the program is due to its simplicity – for property owners and the volunteers who want to lend a hand. By coating a rooftop, you will not only lower your building’s energy consumption and costs, but also help reduce the City’s carbon emissions, overall temperature and stress on the power grid.”

“New Yorkers want to have a role in greening our City, and cooling roofs is a hugely impactful way to do that,” said NYC Chief Service Officer Billings-Burford. “Volunteers have been integral to NYC °CoolRoofs since its launch, and we’re thrilled to have coated 2.6 million square feet thus far. There’s still work to be done, though, and we look forward to coating another million square feet this season with the continued support of our volunteers and our sponsors.” 

“Mayor Bloomberg’s NYC °CoolRoofs program enhances the quality of life for all New Yorkers,” said Frances Resheske, Con Edison’s Senior Vice President for Public Affairs. “This visionary program supports our goal of helping our customers cut their energy usage and save money.”

“Queens College’s participation in NYC °CoolRoofs is the perfect next step in our sustainability plan as we continue to work towards reducing the campus’ carbon footprint,” said Queens College President James L. Muyskens. “We take that responsibility seriously, not only as one of the city's public institutions but as an institution of higher learning where we have the opportunity to inspire the next generation of New Yorkers.”

As the initiative’s lead season sponsor, Con Edison will support NYC °CoolRoofs in the coating of hundreds of rooftops across the City this year. Throughout the season, Con Edison will coat 82,000 square feet of rooftop citywide, encourage its own employees to volunteer on coating projects and provide a variety of resources, including sponsoring the production of promotional materials about NYC °CoolRoofs and providing information about the program in monthly bills to its three million customers. This is the third year Con Edison has sponsored NYC °CoolRoofs.

Since the creation of NYC °CoolRoofs, the program has helped to coordinate the rooftop coatings of hundreds of public, private and non-profit buildings throughout the City including many affordable and public housing facilities. The coatings have been made possible through the program’s government partnerships and the help of the Community Environmental Center, Green City Force and Sustainable South Bronx, all not-for-profit groups. Over the past two seasons, more than 825,000 square feet of rooftop were coated through these government partnerships, including: 

  • Department of Parks and Recreation: 349,200 square feet
  • New York City Housing Authority: 201,272 square feet
  • Department of Homeless Services:144,505 square feet
  • City University of New York: 46,670 square feet
  • Brooklyn Public Library: 39,240 square feet
  • Department of Citywide Administrative Services: 22,500 square feet
  • New York Police Department: 11,710 square feet
  • Department of Transportation: 9,980 square feet

 NYC °CoolRoofs coatings planned for the coming weeks include the New York City Police Academy’s 37,500 square-foot rooftop, as well as the rooftop at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater. Additionally, several private corporations have signed up to support the program this year by sponsoring corporate days, including: 

  • Con Edison
  • Bloomberg
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
  • HSBC
  • ING
  • JP Morgan Chase & Co.
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Marsh & McLennan Companies
  • McGraw – Hill
  • Nielson

Impact of Cool Roofs

New York City is heavily impacted by the “urban heat island” effect – the phenomenon of cities being warmer than surrounding suburban and rural areas due to the abundance of dry impermeable surfaces, such as roads and rooftops. The effect causes areas of the City with an abundance of industrial roofs and roadways and a lack of vegetation to be up to five degrees warmer than surrounding areas.

Cool roofs – rooftops coated with a white, reflective sealant – help to counter the urban heat island effect by reflecting the sun’s hot rays and absorbing 80 percent less heat than traditional dark colored roofs, cooling rooftops and helping to lower indoor temperatures by up to 30 percent on hot days. The decrease in temperature reduces the need for air conditioning, lowering electric bills and reducing a building’s energy consumption. Studies have found that coating all of the City’s eligible dark rooftops could help lower the City’s ambient air temperature by as much as one degree, significantly impacting the City by reducing its carbon footprint, energy usage and stress on the City’s power grid, which would help decrease the likelihood of blackouts and brownouts.

The financial savings experienced by a cool roof varies from building to building. A self-coated roof – no labor costs – typically costs 45 cents per square foot and pays for itself after three years through energy savings. A cool roof can reduce a buildings internal air temperature by as much as 30 percent and help reduce air conditioning costs by 10 to 30 percent on hot days.

The NYC Construction Codes, which went into effect in July 2009, require all new buildings to install a white roof. Additionally, Mayor Bloomberg expanded the requirement for white roofs last year by signing a new law requiring property owners of all existing buildings to add reflective materials to their rooftop if they replace or renovate 50 percent or more, or more than 500 square feet of the roof area. The new law took effect in January 2012.

Targeting Private Property Owners

This year, NYC °CoolRoofs will be working with Home Depot – who carries one of the accepted reflective, white coatings – to encourage more New York City property owners to cool their rooftops. NYC °CoolRoofs representatives will talk about the benefits of cool roofs to Home Depot employees at their Pro-Summit meetings and private contractors at Home Depot’s Pro-Contractor Breakfasts, which are held bi-monthly at their 20 stores citywide. Employees and contractors will be educated on how to inform customers about the differences between dark-colored roofs and white roofs, and contractors will be encouraged to offer white roof alternatives to their customers. Contractors also will be asked to report coatings to NYC °CoolRoofs so the program can accurately track how much rooftop space has been coated citywide.

Property owners also can participate in NYC °CoolRoofs by visiting the program’s website at or coat their rooftop themselves by using the “°Cool it Yourself” informational guide, which can be found on the website. The guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to coat one’s rooftop and outlines the necessary materials.

 Program Monitoring and Accountability

To help further gauge the positive effects cool roofs have on the City, Columbia University’s Center for Climate System’s Research has set up an NYC °CoolRoofs monitoring station on the roof of The Museum of Modern Art’s storage and research facility in Long Island City, Queens – one of the areas in the City that experiences the greatest urban heat island effect. Every 15 minutes the station measures and logs black surface temperatures vs. white surface temperatures, incident and reflected sunlight and thermal emissivity. The collected data allows researchers to analyze changes over time, assess the urban heat island effect as well as seasonal impacts a cool roof has on a building’s energy consumption. The benefits derived from the analyses will help contribute to the City’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions throughout the five boroughs.

During the monitoring station’s first season last year, it found that on July 22, 2011 – the day that set the City record for electricity usage during the heat wave last summer – white roofs were 42 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than traditional dark-colored roofs, which reached temperatures of 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Overall, the study found that white roofs peak temperatures were 43 degrees cooler on average than traditional dark-colored roofs. 

Getting Involved in NYC °CoolRoofs 

New Yorkers interested in giving back and making New York City more environmentally friendly are encouraged to become a NYC °CoolRoofs volunteer by visiting or calling 311. Donations to support the NYC °CoolRoofs initiative can be made to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City also by visiting or calling 311. The Mayor's Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting innovative public-private partnerships such as urbancanvas.

Contact:     Evelyn Erskine (Mayor’s Office/NYC Service) (212) 788-2958
                   Tony Sclafani/Ryan FitzGibbon (Buildings) (212) 566-3473
                    Con Edison Media Relations (212) 460-4111
                    Maria Matteo (CUNY)    (718) 997-5593