Worried About Your Building Carbon Footprint? No Problem, Just Cool It!

Posted Jan 25th, 2021 in Roof Technology

Perhaps you had previously  heard of The New York City Cool Roof Program? Maybe not, so here's a bit of a history lesson...(yay!)

Briefly, during the tenure of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (2002-2013) there was a specific environmental initiative to reduce the city's carbon footprint, save energy costs, and create an employment opportunity for young workers. It was supported by the Energy Secretary to President Obama, Steven Chu, and Berkley Laboratory of California researchers, and Advisors to the Department of Energy, but most dramatically it was flouted by former President Bill Clinton. In a nut shell, every black, dark or tar roof to quote Clinton was to be "painted white". The program was expected to carry onward into 2030.

Over 9 million square feet as of 2018 had been completed across the compact New York City landscape of over 1 million buildings and almost 19 million people.

The goal of light roofs would reduce and address the important concern of "urban heat island effect" which is the outcome of what happens as dark surfaces such as tar roofs absorb and convert sunlight into heat which radiates upward into the atmosphere contributing to global warming.  A reflective surface, such as a white roof however conversely would bounce the light away without as much of a thermal impact.This is a crutial initiative because people die in cities too hot to handle, which can contribute to health issues such as heart attack and stroke.

What is quite interesting about many of the articles about that program as published by Bloomberg, Reuters, Green Building News, Business Insider or Newsweek were that the stories are purely focused on rooftop solar reflectivity and thermal emittance. The goal here was obviously not to address the primary function of a roof to begin with which of course is waterproofing, and the protection of occupants, their property and building envelope performance!

So getting back to the solution, to "paint" dark roofs white. It made for great press, as even Mayor Bloomberg painted the 1 millionth square white himself. (Seriously, you can Google it!) Now some articles suggested "coating" but none appeared to have given a rats you-know-what about logistics or maintenance. Most of it seems more about employing or recruiting volunteers to paint a roof and get credit for their good intensions. They didn't appear to focus on or care if the roof had issues like leaks! Which leads one to wonder: Did anyone even consider the SAFETY of having volunteers or young inexperienced workers up on the roof-tops of buildings to accomplish this? How long would a painted roof function before it would need to be repainted or repaired as we all know paint chips, cracks, peels? And couldn't that residue clog up and interfere with roof drainage? The solution here seemed pretty short-sighted, as could these white "painted" roofs even last to 2030? 

Why did they not encourage or offer incentives for the more longer-term benefit of an overlay PVC or other type of white roof material that would actually do everything intended, and still support the functioning of the roof? Wasn't this cool roof solution just whitewashing other problems? A cheap and easy gimmick?

Fast forward 2020, and  NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, now has his own version: OneNYC 2050 strategy,  (Law 92 and 94 Green Roof Legislations or the Climate Mobilization Act. which now requires sustainable roofing systems in new construction, etc) This is suggested for a timeframe into 2050--long after some of us reading this article will have cooled off ourselves.

Did you know that today and now, you can have performance-proven roofing solutions, deal with the challenge of reducing your building's carbon footprint and help address the "urban heat island effect"? Check out DUROLAST PVC Roofing systems and products!

Here are some quick facts and figures:

Duro-Last Bright White Membrane offers up to 88% reflectivity which reduces energy consumption to both heat and cool a building.

Duro-Last roofing systems are recyclable and can be repurposed.

Duro-Last roofing products are NSF American National Standard Sustainability Certified.

Duro-Last roofs are compatible with other Rooftop applications such as solar and vegetative systems.

Watertite Roofing (WTR) is an Elite, Certified and Award-Winning Canadian Installer of Duro-Last Roofing Systems! Call 1.800.263.8452 and get more information about how we can help provide roofing solutions to meet your needs today.