Newsletter Sign-up Weather Advisories Owner's Bill of Rights Printer Friendly Format Translate This Page
House #
Street Name
Press Releases

For Immediate Release
May 24, 2011


Program will Coat One Million Square Feet of Rooftop with White Coating this Year with Assistance from Volunteers

Helps Meet PlaNYC Goal of Reducing Carbon Emissions by 30 Percent by 2030

Google & Con Edison Sponsoring Program

Last Year, One Million Square Feet of Rooftop was Coated White by NYC °CoolRoofs

NYC Service Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford and Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri today launched the second season of NYC °CoolRoofs, an initiative that seeks to reduce carbon emissions, cut energy use and lower temperatures by helping property owners to apply a white, reflective coating to their rooftops and utilizes volunteers in the effort. During the program’s inaugural season last year, more than one million square feet of rooftop was coated throughout the five boroughs, with nearly 2,000 New Yorkers volunteering to help coat rooftops. This year, the program aims to coat an additional million square feet of rooftop with assistance from Google and Con Edison, the lead sponsors of the 2011 effort. NYC °CoolRoofs kicked off this year’s effort with 40 volunteers coating more than 15,000 square feet at Harlen Housing, a low-income housing center located at 560 Lenox Avenue in Harlem. The program will help the City’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, the primary goal of PlaNYC, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s comprehensive sustainability plan.

“Volunteers were the key to coating a million square feet last season, and we fully expect to see the same enthusiasm this year from New Yorkers who want to make our city greener and greater by cooling rooftops,” said Chief Service Officer Billings-Burford. “We have some great partners for our second season of NYC ºCoolRoofs, with the Department of Buildings, Con Ed and Google, and we are looking forward to get started.”

“More cool roofs mean a cooler City,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “We are thrilled to coordinate the second season of this great program with NYC Service, Con Edison and Google and continue to improve the quality of life for millions of New Yorkers. A simple rooftop coating can significantly reduce energy costs and lower the temperatures of your building, reducing the impact on your neighborhood and your wallet. I encourage more property owners and volunteers to join this effort – and be cool this summer by coating a rooftop today.”

“New York City has more than 1.6 billion square feet of rooftops. By coating rooftops white, we can help reduce temperatures and save building owners money,” said David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. “The NYC ºCoolRoofs Program is a perfect example of how property owners, tenants, and volunteers can take tangible actions to help us meet the goals of PlaNYC and create a greener, greater New York.”

“Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership, the NYC ºCool Roofs program got off to a great start in 2010,” said John Banks, Con Edison’s vice president for Government Relations. “Private building owners, the City and the nonprofit community came together to reduce energy bills and protect the environment. Con Edison is proud to be a lead sponsor of NYC ºCool Roofs for a second straight year.”

“Google is absolutely committed to protecting our environment, and we are thrilled to support the initiatives of NYC ºCoolRoofs,” said Alex Abelin, Google’s Community Affairs Manager for the New York region. “Climate change continues to be one of the biggest, most challenging problems our planet faces, and we know that a sustained global effort is needed if we’re going to have any hope of reversing its effects. Google’s partnership with NYC ºCoolRoofs strengthens our green mission with the ultimate goal of keeping our planet safe and beautiful today and tomorrow.”

As the program’s lead sponsors, Google and Con Edison will support the coating of rooftops throughout the City, including encouraging their own employees to volunteer during the coating season. In June, 250 Google employees will coat the rooftops of nine buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan, coating a total of 65,000 square feet. Con Edison is providing a variety of resources, including sponsoring promotional materials about NYC ºCool Roofs and including information in monthly bills for its three million customers.

Under the NYC °Cool Roofs Program, a wide range of public, private and non-profit buildings have coated their rooftops white, including Broadway Stages, a Brooklyn film studio, and LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens. The City will continue to add the white, reflective coating to its own properties identified by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the New York City Housing Authority and the Department of Parks and Recreation. For example, the Parks Department has coated nearly 194,000 square feet of rooftop at its buildings and has pledged to coat 300,000 more square feet by the end of the year. Last year, more than 340,000 square feet of City-owned rooftops were coated, including:

  • New York City Housing Authority: 106,538 square feet
  • Department of Parks and Recreation: 193,500 square feet 
  • Department of Homeless Services:144,505 square feet
  • City University of New York: 46,670 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 

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 buildings. The urban heat island effect causes the City to be five to seven degrees warmer than surrounding areas.

A rooftop coated with a reflect, white coating – a cool roof – absorbs 80 percent less heat than traditional dark colored roofs and can lower roof temperatures by up to 60 degrees and indoor temperatures by 10 to 20 degrees on hot days. The decrease in temperature reduces the need for air conditioning, lowering electric bills and reducing energy consumption. Coating all eligible dark rooftops in New York City could result in up to a one degree reduction of the ambient air temperature – a significant and lasting change towards cooling the City. The decrease in energy usage from cool roofs also will help reduce the likelihood of blackouts and brownouts, as the strain on the power grid during times of peak demand will be lessened.

Financial savings after converting to a cool roof will vary from building to building, but a self-applied cool roof coating (no labor costs) typically pays for itself after three years through energy savings. A cool roof can reduce air conditioning costs by 50 percent in a one-story building, 25 percent in a two-story building, and by 10 percent in a five-story building. Further, cool roofs can extend the life of a roof by five to ten years by reducing the stress caused by extreme heat.

Formed in 2009, the Department of Building’s Buildings Sustainability Board is working with property owners to install new green technology in their buildings to reduce energy consumption and costs, such as cool roofs and wind turbines. Under a new law signed by Mayor Bloomberg in April 2011, property owners of existing buildings must add reflective materials to their rooftop if 50 percent of the roof area, or more than 500 square feet of the roof area, is replaced or renovated.

Program Monitoring and Accountability

Property owners who participated in last year’s coating are being asked to provide energy usage data for their buildings that will allow the City to track results and monitor improvements. In addition, 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 facility for storage and research in Long Island City, Queens, which will gauge temperatures and report on coating efficacy.

The instrumentation will measure several fundamental properties: black surface temperatures, white surface temperatures, incident and reflected sunlight, and heat radiation. The data will be automatically collected and logged every 15 minutes and will allow researchers to analyze changes over time. With this information, the scientists will be able to assess urban heat island effects, as well as seasonal building energy impacts. These benefits will contribute to efforts to reduce carbon emissions throughout the City.

Targeting Private Property Owners

This year, homeowners can participate in NYC °CoolRoofs by applying coating themselves using the “°Cool it Yourself,” informational guide, which can be obtained by visiting This guide outlines the steps needed to coat the rooftop of their own homes. In addition, organizations like the Real Estate Board of New York and the Building Owners and Managers Association of New York are encouraging their members to participate in the initiative.

About NYC Service

NYC Service was launched by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in April 2009 to meet his State of the City pledge for New York City to lead the nation in answering President Obama’s national call to volunteerism. Since its inception, NYC Service has engaged more than 1 million New Yorkers in a wide range of volunteer activities, from providing tax assistance to low-income families to beautifying neighborhood blocks to coating rooftops with reflective white materials. NYC Service launched 25 new or expanded volunteer initiatives and the comprehensive website, located at, has made it easier for New Yorkers to find opportunities to make a difference.

New Yorkers interested in giving back by working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can become an 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.

Contact:   Marc La Vorgna (NYC Service)        (212) 788-2958
                  Tony Sclafani/Jennifer Gilbert        (212) 566-3473