In 2010 I founded the White Roof Project, a national environmental initiative to curb climate change. The idea came into fruition on Earth Day at an event hosted by the Manhattan Young Democrats on sustainability. When 150 volunteers showed up to coat the first rooftop a few months later it was a watershed moment, and it went from being a project to the start of a movement.

Painting black tar roofs with a white, solar-reflective coating is a low cost, quick and tangible way to reduce the risk of power grid ‘brown-outs’, save millions of dollars in energy costs, and curb climate change. The statistics are as simple as they are staggering: A roof covered with solar-reflective white paint reflects up to 90% of sunlight as opposed to the 20% reflected by a traditional black roof. On a 90°F day, a black roof can be up to 180°F. That heat has a major impact on interior building temperature, potentially heating your room to between 115 – 125°F. A white roof stays a cool 100°F. Plus the inside of the building stays cooler than the air outdoors, around 80°F in this example, reducing cooling costs.

White Roof Project Infographic

 

White roofs also reduce the “urban heat island” effect in which temperatures rise in dense urban areas because of the proliferation of heat-radiating, black tar surfaces. For example, the Urban Heat Island effect causes New York City to be about 5 degrees warmer than surrounding suburbs and accounts for 5 to 10 percent of summer electricity use.

In New York City alone, 12% of all surfaces are rooftops. It’s estimated that implementing a white roof program in 11 metropolitan cities could save the United States 7 gigawatts in energy usage. That’s the equivalent of turning off 14 power plants, and a cost savings of $750 million per year.

Videos

Al Jazeera on White Roof Project

White Roof Project Mini-Documentary

DIY: How to Paint a Roof White

 

Press

03.2013. | Take Part: Op-Ed: White Roofs Are the White Knight We Need to Slay Climate Change

07.2012. | Earth Easy: White Roofs Offer a Simple Strategy to Help Combat Global Warming

07.2012. | New York Times: So Cool! La Mama Theater in NYC Gets White Roofs

07.2012. | Times Square Magazine: The White Roof Project Aims to Cool the City’s Heat and the World’s

05.2012.  | SPARK Speaker Series | Juan Carlos, Highlight

04.2012.  | TEDX Seton Hall Talk | White Roof Project

01.2012. | Scienceline:  Paint the town white, White Roof Project

07.2011.  | Reuters:  Painting Bill Clinton’s “white roofs” into reality, White Roof Project Op-Ed

08.2011 | Crain’s NY: 20 Manhattan roofs go green with coat of white

08.2011 | DNA Info: East Village Roofs Painted White To Keep Cool and Save Money

08.2011 | The Epoch Times: Volunteers Paint the Town White

08.2011 | FAB YouTube: White Roof Project and FABnyc launch Model Block with Scott Stringer

08.2011 | Reuters: Can We Crowdsource a Solution to Climate Change?

08.2011 | Inhabitat: Help the White Roof Project Paint the Rooftops of An Entire East Village Block

08.2011 | Re-Nest: A Cooler Planet, One Roof at a Time

07.2011 | The Daily Beast: Painting the Roof White

07.2011 | GOOD: This Is Why We’re Hot: Sun-Absorbing Black Roofs Need a Coat of White Paint

07.2011 | Reuters: Painting Bill Clinton’s “white roofs” into reality

07.2011 | Yes! Magazine: White Roofs Project Helps NYC Beat The Heat

07.2011 | Ecopreneurist: White Roof Project: Cools NYC One Roof At A Time

04.2011 | Be Social Change: NYC Be Social Changer of the Week, Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza

10.2010 | Belgrave Trust: The White Roof Project: Curbing Climate Change in NYC, One Roof at a Time

09.2010 | So Fresh & So Green: Paint It White: Curbing Climate Change In The City

09.2010 | TreeHugger EarthKeepers: Clinton Global Initiative: Commitments for Positive Change

09.2010 | The Huffington Post: Going Green by Going White


 

What’s more? There is already momentum behind white roofs. President Obama supports them, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) provides funding for green jobs including weatherization and initiatives like white roof painting that both create jobs and curb climate change.

So why isn’t every roof white? We’d like to know that too. You can help us fix the problem.

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