Benefitting From Cool Roofs

Environmental Law


The City of New York has launched its NYC °CoolRoofs initiative for a second season this summer in its effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, the goal of PlaNYC, NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s sustainability plan. The project is very simple. Paint the roof with a white, reflective coating and reap the benefits of lower energy costs, reduced energy usage, lower internal building temperatures, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and enhanced durability of the roof. Black and grey rooftops absorb the sun’s rays, transferring the heat to the building below, and requiring significant amounts of energy to cool.

Under the NYC °CoolRoofs program, reflective coatings are being applied to the rooftops on public, private, and non-profit buildings, resulting in the sun’s radiation being reflected rather than absorbed, and increasing the roofs’ thermal emittance, the relative ability of the roof surface to radiate absorbed heat. A cool roof absorbs 80 percent less heat than traditional roofs and lower indoor air temperatures by up to 30 percent. This can translate into air conditioning cost savings of 10 to 30 percent. The City continues to add the white, reflective coating to its own properties. Local Law 21 of 2011 amended the New York City Building Code requires at least 75 percent of the roof area of applicable new buildings to be covered with cool roof or green technologies. Cool roofs are important in areas like Manhattan because of the “urban heat island” effect, which causes cities to be hotter than surrounding suburban and rural areas.

Cool roofs are not only beneficial in cities, however. Long Island would benefit from a similar program. A conversion to a cool roof would pay for itself in three years through energy savings. Further, the initial costs can be de minimis if the white coating is applied by the building owner rather than by a hired professional. In addition, LIPA offers a $.20/ sq. ft rebate for qualifying building owners. To see the requirements and obtain the rebate application, go to: This very simple and low cost conversion will have a positive environmental impact, and the added benefit of economic savings as heating and cooling costs drop.

For more information on cool roofs and green building, please contact Miriam Villani or Jason Kaplan.

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