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How ‘Cool Roofs’ Can Reduce Heat in Cities

Environmental

How ‘Cool Roofs’ Can Reduce Heat in Cities

Reflective roof coatings can provide a small but significant solution in the race against climate change


November 11, 2021
Worker painting coating on roof
Image: Stock.adobe.com

In cities experiencing extreme heat with cramped building environments, a lack of protective shade, and swarms of traffic producing excess heat and pollution, ‘cool roofs’ could provide a necessary solution. NYC CoolRoofs is partnering with city agencies and has received grant funding from the EPA to coat roofs on urban buildings with silicone paint that reflects UV rays rather than absorbing them.

The coated roofing decreases indoor temperatures during summer months to cut down on the energy use for air conditioning, which results in less greenhouse gas emissions from city buildings. According to The New York Times, The CoolRoof initiative supports the city’s goal to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and offers free installations on affordable housing.

The Hunts Point Produce Market, the country’s largest wholesale produce market and a longtime mainstay in the borough, took a step toward climate action in October, coating about 30,000 square feet of its dark 800,000-square-foot roof with a material known as Elasto-Kool 1000, a white paint infused with silicone to reflect solar heat and UV rays and decrease indoor and surface temperatures during summer months.

“Rooftops present an important opportunity to both mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to address a range of environmental and social issues,” said Emily Nobel Maxwell, the cities director for the Nature Conservancy in New York.

​​The New York City Housing Authority, the public housing agency that is the largest landlord in the city, expects that 2,300 of its 2,500 buildings will have cool-roof features in place in the next few years. “To date, 623 cool roofs have been installed along with full-roof replacements that are more effective at insulating the apartments below them,” said Rochel Leah​ Goldblatt, deputy press secretary for NYCHA.

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