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PR- 432-10
October 13, 2010


1,500 NYC Service Volunteers Helped to Coat Rooftops, Reducing Cooling Costs, Energy Usage and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Year-Old Program Helping to meet PlaNYC Goal to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions 30 percent by 2030

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford and Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today applied a reflective, white coating to the one millionth square foot of rooftop as a part of the NYC °CoolRoofs program. Over the past year, more than 1,500 volunteers organized by NYC Service – the Mayor’s comprehensive initiative to target more volunteers towards areas of need – and assisted by the Department of Buildings added white, reflective coating to 1 million square feet of rooftop to help reduce cooling costs, energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. The program is one of the original initiatives of NYC Service and will help the City’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, a primary goal of PlaNYC, the City’s comprehensive sustainability plan. The Mayor was also joined by First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris, Director of the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability David Bragdon, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman John B. Rhea, Department of Citywide Administrative Services Acting Commissioner Donald P. Brosen, and nonprofit partners Richard Cherry, Executive Director of Community Environmental Center and Lisbeth Shepherd, Executive Director of Green City Force at the announcement on the roof of NYCHA’s Betances Development in the South Bronx, where the one million square foot of white rooftop was coated.

“Through NYC Service we are tapping into the incredible spirit of volunteerism in our city and harnessing that energy to tackle some of the challenges government can’t solve on its own and that includes reducing the city’s carbon footprint,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By simply applying a reflective, white coating, we can reduce rooftop temperature by up to 60 degrees, which translates into reduced cooling costs and reduced carbon emissions – a primary goal of PlaNYC. I want to thank all 1,500 volunteers and 17 companies that made this program’s first year such a success.”

“New Yorkers want to help make their city more sustainable, and NYC °CoolRoofs is the perfect opportunity to do just that,” said Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford. “More than 1,500 volunteers have given their time to coat 1 million square feet of rooftop, and NYC Service will continue to leverage New York City’s assets – most notably a citizenry eager to help – to effect lasting environmental change.”

“A cooler roof means a better life for New Yorkers,” said Buildings Commissioner LiMandri. “Every square foot of rooftop that’s coated makes our City greener and more energy efficient, improving the quality of life of neighborhoods for generations to come. Each building owner, each volunteer and each sponsor has helped make this grassroots effort into a significant accomplishment for our City. As we celebrate this milestone, we look forward to bringing CoolRoofs to more buildings, more communities and more volunteers in the 2011 coating season and beyond.”

“We are proud to stand with Mayor Bloomberg and our sister agencies at NYC Service and the Department of Buildings to do our part by working with our residents and our community partners, to become more efficient, more eco-conscious, and to empower our residents to make changes,” said NYCHA Chairman Rhea. “With 70,000 square feet of NYCHA’s roof already coated white and NYCHA’s NYC Civic Corps team collaborating with our Resident Green Committees to further engage NYCHA families, our work continues in having public housing at the vanguard of the new Green Economy.”

“I am proud that we were able to work effectively with our partner agencies to coat more than 340,000 square feet of government buildings this year,” said Acting Commissioner Brosen. “Our energy management teams will continue to lead by example in this area, as we identify additional locations where a cool roof coating is a cost-effective way to benefit the environment.”

Under the NYC °CoolRoofs Program, the roofs of 105 of public, private and non-profit buildings received reflective white coating. This includes more than 340,000 square feet of City-owned rooftops, which were identified by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, and 70,000 square feet of rooftop on NYCHA facilities.

The full program began in May 2010, with 900,000 square feet of rooftop coated in only five months. During initial pilot program, which ran in the fall of 2009, 100,000 square feet of rooftop was coated. The program does not operate during winter months.

In 2011, NYC Service will make its volunteers available for roof coatings to for-profit organizations that are willing to provide energy bills to the City for the purpose of culling data to further examine the impact of white rooftops.

The NYC °CoolRoofs Program is a public-private partnership that engaged 17 companies in providing volunteers and resources to coat rooftops. Con Edison, this year’s lead sponsor, was responsible for coating more than 100,000 square feet of rooftop throughout the City, including 90,000 square feet of Con Edison owned buildings. The additional companies participating in the program were:

  • Arts & Business Council of New York
  • Bank of America
  • Bloomberg LP
  • Coach, Inc.
  • Colgate - Palmolive Company
  • Citigroup
  • Disney
  • Ernst & Young LLP
  • HSBC Group
  • JetBlue Airways
  • McGraw - Hill
  • Mercer
  • The Moody’s Foundation
  • New York Mets
  • Tishman Speyer
  • YMCA

Impact of °CoolRoofs

A roof with reflective, white coating – know as 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 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 from converting to a cool roof will vary from building to building, but a self-applied coating – with no labor costs – typically pays for itself after three years through energy savings.  A cool roof can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 50 percent in a one story building, 25 percent in a two story building, and up to 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.

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 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 the South Bronx is approximately five to ten degrees higher on hot days than the citywide mean, according to satellite imagery.

About 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 volunteerism. NYC Service is meeting its goals to make New York City the easiest place in the world to volunteer, target volunteer efforts to address the most pressing local challenges, and promote service as a core part of what it means to be a New Yorker. NYC Service aims to drive volunteer resources to six impact areas where New York City’s needs are greatest: strengthening communities, helping neighbors in need, improving education, increasing public health, enhancing emergency preparedness and protecting our environment.

Since its inception in April of 2009, NYC Service has engaged more than 500,000 New Yorkers in a wide range of volunteer activities, from helping with the City’s H1N1 vaccination and education efforts, to providing tax assistance to low-income families, to beautifying neighborhood blocks, to coating rooftops with reflective white paint. NYC Service launched 33 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. More than 350,000 unique visitors to the NYC Service website had access to 1,000 volunteer opportunities.

New Yorkers interested in giving back by working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can become an NYC °CoolRoofs volunteer by visiting or calling 311. Building owners and homeowners who 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. 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.


Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna   (212) 788-2958

Tony Sclafani/Jen Gilbert (Buildings)   (212) 566-3473

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