Volume 22, Number 53 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 14 - 20, 2010

A million sq. ft. of cool rooftops

BY Michael Mandelkern

This year, private and public organizations are collaborating to launch NYC Cool Roofs, a pilot program that seeks to reduce energy costs and greenhouse emissions throughout New York City by coating rooftops with white and/or reflective material.

The environmental movement has pledged to cover one million square feet of city rooftop by the end of this year, some of which has already been set atop buildings in Lower Manhattan.

Con Edison and the Department of Buildings (D.O.B.) are headlining the effort. The project’s goal is to fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 within 20 years.

According to a May 11 press release, these roofs reduce heat absorption by up to 80 percent, cool indoor temperatures and, in turn, cut air conditioning costs.

The D.O.B., located on 280 Broadway, has redesigned its top layer. “Light-colored roofing materials tend to have a longer service life. The constant heating and cooling of a roof causes its materials to expand and contract - causing a wear and tear that has an impact on the life of a roof,” according to the “sustainability” section of the D.O.B.’s website.

Con Edison has two structures; at 4 Irving Place in Union Square and on West 28th St., with a combined 67,000 square feet of the coating, and is considering spreading more over another facility on East 16th St., said Allan Drury, a Con Edison spokesperson.

Tony Scalfani, a Department of Buildings representative, emphasized that although the city government participates in the NYC Cool Roofs project, property owners can apply coating without notifying. And if manpower is a problem, the city provides NYC Service volunteers upon request. Business and property owners only need to call in order to take advantage of the volunteer service.

The city, however, does not provide financial incentives to the private sector to join the environmental initiative.

In 2008, the city established a building code that requires roofs to be at least 75 percent covered or be ENERGY STAR-approved as “highly reflective.”

“There’s nothing like being cool and smart,” said DCAS Commissioner Hist, as stated in the press release. “We will continue to lead by example in this area, as we identify additional locations where a cool roof coating is not only good for the environment, but cost-effective as well.”

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