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PR- 417-09
September 24, 2009


“NYC Cool Roofs” Program Mobilizes Volunteers to Coat Rooftops with Reflective, White Coating

Cool Roofs can Reduce Roof Temperatures by 60 Degrees and Indoor Temperatures by 10 to 20 Degrees

Program will help the City Achieve PlanNYC Goal of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 30 Percent by 2030

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and former Vice President and founder of the Alliance for Climate Protection Al Gore today launched an NYC Service initiative, “NYC Cool Roofs,” to mobilize volunteers to coat the rooftops of participating buildings with reflective, white coating to reduce cooling costs, energy usage and greenhouse emissions.  The Mayor and former Vice President helped NYC Service volunteers coat the rooftop of the Long Island City YMCA in Queens.  The program will begin with a pilot from September 24th to October 9th, with teams of volunteers working to coat 100,000 square feet of rooftop in Long Island City, a neighborhood that exhibits higher temperatures than the citywide average due to the amount of industrial rooftops in the area.

The Mayor and former Vice President were joined by partners of the NYC Cool Roofs program including the City’s Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford; Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability Rohit Aggarwala; Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations Jeff Kay; Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Martha K. Hirst; Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri; YMCA of Greater New York CEO Jack Lund; Richard Cherry, the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Center, the program’s coordinator; Bob Hyer, Vice President of APOC and Raymond Hyer, III, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Gardner-Gibson, Inc., the companies responsible for donating 2,000 gallons of reflective coating to the program; and Brad Segal, President of Bradco Supply, who donated accessory items necessary for the program.    

“It’s such a simple concept – anyone who has ever gotten dressed in the summer knows it – light-colored surfaces absorb less heat than darker surfaces do,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Coating rooftops with reflective, white paint can reduce roof temperatures by as much as 60 degrees and indoor temperatures by 10 to 20 degrees. That means substantial energy savings for the building owner and a big reduction in energy usage and greenhouse emissions.  Reflective rooftops are a simple yet powerful tool in the fight we have been leading against climate change through PlaNYC and the latest example of how NYC Service is channeling the power of our volunteers to address some of the City’s greatest needs.”

“I am proud to join Mayor Bloomberg and these dedicated volunteers to kick-off a great program that is going to make a real difference,” said former Vice President Gore. “The threat we face from the climate crisis is unsurpassed and smart policies like installing cool roofs are one way that we are going to meet the challenge. It takes real leadership from our elected officials to help save our planet.  Thanks to the efforts of Mayor Bloomberg, New York City remains at the forefront of enacting innovative policies that reduce our carbon footprint.”

The cool roofs pilot is being implemented by NYC Service and the Mayor’s Office of Operations in partnership with the Community Environmental Center, which will serve as the primary program coordinator, the Long Island City Business Improvement District, and Green City Force.  Nonprofits such as Publicolor are providing critical support for NYC Cool Roofs by providing training volunteers for the program, which is funded with private donations.

“Developing volunteer activities that fight climate change at the local level and help create a greener New York City is a top priority for NYC Service,” said Chief Service Office Diahann Billings-Burford.

New Yorkers interested in giving back by working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can become an NYC Cool Roofs volunteer by visiting or calling 311.  Building owners and homeowners that wish to reduce their own energy costs and reduce their own carbon footprint, can also visit or call 311 to learn how to coat their own roof with reflective, 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 1 degree reduction of New York City’s ambient air temperature – a significant and lasting change towards cooling the City.

The NYC Cool Roofs program will help the City meet the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, the primary goal of PlaNYC, the City’s comprehensive sustainability plan.

The City’s new building code, enacted by the Bloomberg Administration in 2008, requires most new roofs built in New York City to have 75 percent of the roof area covered with reflective, white coating or to be ENERGY STAR® rated as highly reflective.

“While the City’s building code requires new buildings to have white roofs, 85 percent of the buildings that will exist in New York in 2030 are already built,” said Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability Rohit Aggarwala. “As a result, we must include existing buildings in our efforts to cool the City. The NYC Cool Roofs program, combined with the building code requirement that re-roofing projects include reflective coating, is critical to meeting the City’s goal of reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.”

Savings from Cool Roofs

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.

Power Grid Impact

The decrease in citywide energy usage from cool roofs also will help reduce the likelihood of blackouts and brownouts, as the strain on the City’s power grid during times of peak demand will be lessened.

Rooftop and Surface Heat in NYC

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 New York City to be five to seven degrees warmer than surrounding areas.

Areas of the City, like Long Island City, that are most impacted by the urban heat island effect have an abundance of industrial roofs, roadways, and a lack of vegetation.  For example, the combined surface temperature in Long Island City is approximately five to ten degrees higher on hot days than the citywide mean, according to satellite imagery.

Program Monitoring and Accountability

To ensure accountability and gauge program results, the NYC Cool Roofs pilot program will be monitored by Columbia University’s Center for Climate Systems Research, which will report on the energy and cost savings generated by cool roofs on participating buildings.

The program results will be reviewed over the next year and an on-line dashboard will be developed so the public can see real-time performance data on the project at

100 Cool Cities Global Initiative

The NYC Cool Roofs program and the City’s ongoing efforts to combat climate change have made New York City a charter member of the 100 Cool Cities Global Initiative.  The initiative is organizing 100 of the largest cities in the temperate and tropical regions of the world to develop customized implementation programs to cool their respected cities by installing white and cool roofing and pavement materials. An initial list of cities to join the program includes Delhi (India), Hyderabad (India), Los Angeles (USA), Osaka (Japan), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Taipei (Taiwan) and Tokyo (Japan).

“We are so excited to have New York City as a leading and a charter member of the 100 Cool Cities,” said Dr. Hashem Akbari, from Concordia University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who is leading the 100 Cool Cities Global Initiative. “In response to a global threat, NYC is rising to its responsibility by taking concrete actions to cool the city and the world one roof at a time.”

NYC Cool Roofs Benefactors

The NYC Cool Roofs program is fortunate to receive generous support from private donors contributing to NYC Service. APOC, a manufacturer of cool roof coatings and recycled coatings, donated 2,000 gallons of reflective, white coating for the program.  APOC is the commercial and industrial products division of Gardner-Gibson and is a partner of the ENERGY STAR® program and a member of the U.S. Green Building Council.

“New York City is making a bold statement with this historic cool roofs initiative,” said Bob Hyer, Vice President of APOC.  “APOC is excited to partner with New York to educate the public about the benefits of energy-saving cool roofs. With this program, New York City and Mayor Bloomberg are leading the nation in new technologies to help reduce energy use and costs, cut carbon emissions and lower environmental impact at a critical period in our nation’s history.”

Cool Roofs on City Buildings

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services has identified 1 million square feet of roof space on City-owned buildings that could benefit from reflective, white coating, including homeless shelters, police precincts, fire stations, sanitation and transportation garages and office buildings.  Once the results of the pilot program are reviewed, the City will move forward with coating applicable City-owned buildings with reflective, white coating.

“As we continue to roll out PlaNYC energy conservation projects across the City’s buildings, we expect to add cool roof installations as a simple, cost-effective step to reduce energy consumption,” said Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Martha K. Hirst.

“A reflective, white roof is an easy way for property owners to keep their building cool and their energy costs down,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri. “This program is a perfect vehicle to combine two important goals – increasing public service in our communities, while improving the quality of life for our residents. Reflective roof coatings are now required for newly constructed buildings, and as more existing buildings go green, this will help to reduce the impact on the environment. I would like to commend Mayor Bloomberg, his staff and all of the volunteers for the time and resources they have dedicated to make this program possible.”


On Earth Day 2007, Mayor Bloomberg released PlaNYC, a comprehensive sustainability plan that includes 127 initiatives to make New York a greener, greater city. The plan addresses air and water quality, open space, energy and green buildings, affordable and sustainable housing, as well as brownfield reclamation. PlaNYC’s overall goal is to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Since the plan was released, more than two-thirds of its initiatives are either on-time or ahead of schedule.

NYC Service

NYC Service was launched by Mayor 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 service. The program has three core goals: channel the power of volunteers to address the impacts of the current economic downturn, make New York City the easiest city in America in which to serve, and ensure every young person in New York City is taught about civic engagement and has an opportunity to serve. NYC Service aims to drive volunteer resources to six impacts areas where New York City’s needs are greatest: strengthening communities, helping neighbors in need, education, health, emergency preparedness and the environment. New Yorkers can find opportunities to serve their communities by visiting or by calling 311.


Stu Loeser/Marc LaVorgna (Mayor)   (212) 788-2958

Kalee Kreider (Vice President Gore)   (615) 327-2227

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