Category Archives: Key Initiatives

Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative

Helping to Demonstrate the Benefits of a Cooler Los Angeles as a Model for Other Cities

The Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative (LAUCC) is a unique national partnership between nonprofit groups, universities, government agencies and other experts in urban heat with the aim of achieving a cooler, more prosperous, and healthier Los Angeles by addressing current and future challenges posed by urban heat. By mid-century, average temperatures in Los Angeles are expected to rise by 3 to 7°F. Heat stress driven by this kind of warming is associated with many negative health outcomes, including premature death, which is expected to become more common as the planet continues to warm. These effects are particularly pronounced in highly urbanized areas like Los Angeles.


The LAUCC brings together policy and implementation experts, world-class research institutions and others to empower communities, city officials, and other key stakeholders to act on the urgency and realize the full value of robust planning today for a cooler city tomorrow.

The LAUCC Strategy

To realize the opportunities of a cooler Los Angeles, LAUCC will:

  1. Quantify the health impacts of installing reflective roofs and vegetation at the neighborhood level with original research.
  2. Demonstrate the real-world impact of these strategies in select Los Angeles communities.  Deliverable: Community-scale demonstration projects in one to three neighborhoods.
  3. Leverage existing relationships with city officials and other stakeholders to ensure that these cool strategies are prioritized in city and utility policymaking.

This cutting-edge research will produce a framework that will be shared nationally with decision makers and stakeholders, community health organizations, NGOs, and urban forestry groups.
LAUCC is seeking funding and  partners interested in tackling the challenge of urban heat and create a climate-resilient Los Angeles. Please contact Kurt Shickman (kurt at if you are interested in learning more!

Partners include:


Catch GCCA Executive Director, Kurt Shickman on KCRW

Madeleine Brand, a reporter for NPR station KCRW in Santa Monica, California, noted that extreme heat is now the most deadly of weather-driven disasters. She invited GCCA’s Executive Director, Kurt Shickman on her show to talk about the urban heat island effect, and Kurt explained how cool roofs can help cities cool down, conserve energy and save lives. Kurt noted the many affordable color options available in today’s roofing marketplace.

They also discussed the new regulations in Los Angeles, which require white roofs on new commercial and residential buildings, as well as major roof rebuilds.

You can listen to the show here, and read more about efforts to bring down temperatures in Los Angeles with cool roofs, here.

GCCA Executive Director Kurt Shickman on WAMU’s Metro Connection

Johnathan Wilson, environmental reporter for WAMU (a public radio station in Washington, DC) recently spoke with GCCA Executive Director, Kurt Shickman about rising global temperatures. Kurt talked about the dangers urban heat islands present to people living in cities like Washington, DC, and explained how reflective surfaces and increased vegetation help save lives in extreme heat events.

He also demonstrated how dark surfaces (black roofs) can be as much as 65 degrees hotter than lighter surfaces (white roofs).

You can listen to this WAMU broadcast here, and read a recent GCCA report about how urban heat island heat reduction strategies can help reduce mortality in cities like Washington, DC.

South Africa Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Exchange

Welcome to the South Africa Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Exchange (EERE Exchange), a regularly-updated platform for sharing information on initiatives related to the growth of markets for efficient, clean, and sustainable technologies in South Africa.

New! Powering South Africa with Cleaner and Smarter Energy Conference Proceedings

Energy Efficiency Policy Overview

Regulations Supporting National Energy Efficiency Goals – A review of South Africa’s energy efficiency goals by sector and the regulation developed to achieve them.

Energy Efficiency in the Housing Sector – An overview of Eskom’s programs to improve residential energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency Projects in the Housing Sector – An overview of new energy efficient housing developments and a description of how they were financed.

Global Superior Energy Performance Partnership: A South African Perspective – A SANEDI presentation of the current energy and housing dynamics in South Africa.

BigEE – A guide from SANEDI to building, appliance and other policies aimed at increasing energy efficiency in South Africa.

Efficiency Incentives: Section 12L

Section 12L of the Income Tax Act – A description of the tax incentive, its purpose, and means to apply by SANEDI.

The Carbon Tax and Energy Efficiency Incentive – A review of Section 12L and one of its funding sources, a new tax on carbon for certain industries.

SANS 50100: Measurement and Verification Requirements for Section 12L – A detailed description of M&V requirements to earn the Section 12L incentive.

Section 12L: Accreditation Process – A description of how organizations can become accredited to perform the M&V requirements to claim Section 12L.

Practical Guide to Applying for the Section 12L Incentive – A detailed, step-by-step guide for applying for and complying with the Section 12L energy efficiency incentive.

Municipal Procurement Policies

!Khies Municipal Supply Chain Management Policy – An example of the procurement requirements for suppliers interested in working with municipalities.

Municipal Procurement Requirements for South African Municipalities – The official supply chain management requirements governing municipal procurement.

Local Content Requirements – The process for verifying that projects receiving government incentives or funding meet the requirements for including local content.

Reflective “Cool” Surfaces

Designing and Operating a Cool Roof Rating System – An overview of the U.S. Cool Roof Rating Council and the elements of its successful testing and rating program.

Cool Roofing Pilot on Low Income Houses – A report on a demonstration of cool roofs and local job creation near Pretoria.

Cool Roofs and Solar Hot Water Heaters – A presentation reviewing the potential benefits of applying cool roofs with solar hot water heaters.


South African Fenestration and Insulation Rating Authority – An overview of the South African process of testing, rating, and labeling window and glass performance.

Background: Building Stock

SAPOA Property Vacancy Report – An April 2014 review of the commercial building sector in South Africa, including trends and an economic outlook published by the Property Owners Association.

GHG Emissions Baselines and Reduction Potentials from Buildings – A study for UNEP that provides a good deal of information on South African building stock, policy initiatives supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy, and recommendations for policymakers

Africa Property and Construction Handbook 2013 – A report on the health of the leasing and construction market in Africa, published by AECOM South Africa.

Renewable Energy Policy Overview

White Paper on Renewable Energy – The 2003 government position paper that set targets for renewable energy development.

South Africa’s Renewable Energy Policy Roadmap – A June 2010 report by University of Cape Town for UNEP covering current policy and opportunities for future renewable energy development.

South African Department of Energy’s Renewables Website – A link to policy and data resources on renewables

Renewable Energy Policies in South Africa – An overview presentation to the June 2010 World Futures Council Workshop by the Honorable Elizabeth Thabethe of the South African Parliament.

General Policy Overview – The REEGLE policy database for South Africa.

Scaling Up Renewable Energy in South Africa – A web-based report from Norton Rose Fulbright that reviews the current state of policy, renewable CDMs, and the procurement process.

Integrated Resource Planning

Integrated Resource Plan 2010-2030 – The IRP from the South Africa Department of Energy covering all power needs and development plans for South Africa.
Integrated Energy Planning Report – A June 2013 report detailing the plans for South African energy deployment.

Renewable Procurement Policies

Standard Offer Scheme – The standard policy and steps for offering renewable, efficiency, and DSM resources into South African energy market via Eskom.


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Evaluating the Health Benefits of Urban Cooling

GCCA gathered a team of top climate researchers, including Larry Kalkstein (University of Miami), Jennifer Vanos (Texas Tech University), David Sailor (Portland State University), and Scott Sheridan (Kent State University) to quantify the impact that typical urban heat island mitigation strategies, such as reflective roofs and vegetation, have on weather conditions and estimated mortality during extreme heat events. Many residents within American cities are vulnerable to health and even mortality risks caused by extreme heat events. In numerous cities, the health impacts of these heat events are exacerbated by the fact that the city is significantly warmer than the surrounding rural areas during the summer.

Research on urban environments has found that a number of strategies can reduce excess urban heat by generating perceptible ambient changes in temperature, thus making urban populations more resilient to extreme heat events. Examples of such strategies include green roofs, shade trees, and vegetation, as well as surfaces that reflect sunlight rather than absorb it as heat (e.g., cool roofs and cool pavements). Although these UHI mitigation measures often save energy and make economic sense for building owners, policymakers are increasingly drawn to UHI mitigation to gain the health benefits of cooler cities. The findings of this paper will help urban planners and city officials looking to further quantify the health and life-saving benefits of reducing summer urban heat islands with cool surfaces and increased vegetation.

The team estimated reductions in heat-related mortality in three cities: Baltimore, MD, Los Angeles, CA, and New York, NY. The team identified four actual multi-day extreme heat events in each city, modeled the impact of increased surface reflectance and increased vegetative cover on meteorological conditions using three scenarios:

  1. Increase urban surface reflectance by 0.10 (0.15 to 0.25);
  2. Increase surface vegetation by 10% and reflectance by 0.10;
  3. Increase surface reflectance by 0.20 (0.15 to 0.35).

Changes in air temperature and humidity during the heat events (as measured by dew point temperature) in all cities were small, commonly less than a 1oF decrease. The study found that reflectivity and vegetated cover were equally effective urban cooling strategies. During the period between 1948 and 2011, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and New York lost an average of 87 people each summer (June-July-August) due to heat-related mortality (Kalkstein et al., 2011). This study finds that deploying UHI mitigation strategies would save up to 32 lives in Baltimore, 22 lives in Los Angeles, and 219 lives in New York over a 10-year period.

Read the full study on our Cool Roofs and Cool Pavements Toolkit.

Urban Heat Island Policy Survey

GCCA partnered with the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) partnered to survey 26 North American cities to better understand how cities are tackling the challenges of urban heat. The survey finds that confronting the challenges of extreme weather, adapting to a changing climate, and improving the health and resiliency of urban populations are driving cities to develop and implement strategies to reduce excess urban heat.

Nearly two thirds of the cities surveyed cited local extreme weather events as a key reason for initiating urban heat island mitigation strategies. U.S. cities are waking up to the growing threat of urban heat and employing a number of innovative approaches suited to their location and priorities and we hope the report will help local planners adapt these practices to even more communities across the country.

ACEEE and GCCA surveyed 26 cities in the U.S. and Canada representing all of the major climate zones, geographies, and city sizes. Despite the diversity of the respondents, several common themes emerged. Local governments are leading by example by requiring use of cool technologies, such as reflective roofs on municipal buildings, lining city streets with shade trees, and raising public awareness. Additionally, more than half of the cities have some kind of requirement in place for reflective and vegetated roofing for private sector buildings. Almost every city had policies to increase tree canopy and manage storm water.

The report finds that by addressing their urban heat islands, cities are more effectively delivering core public health and safety services, making them attractive places to live, work, and play.

The report includes case studies on how several cities have responded to urban heat, demonstrating the variety of strategies employed. In response to a study that found that Houston’s roofs and pavements can reach 160°F, the city now requires most flat roofs in the city to be reflective. After an extreme heat wave in 2008, Cincinnati lost much of its urban canopy, and instituted an aggressive forestry plan. Washington D.C. has instituted a wide suite of programs such as Green Alleys,which helps residents manage excess stormwater by replacing pavement with grass and trees, and requiring reflective roofs on all new buildings.

The survey also found that most city governments are not acting alone to reduce excess heat. States, neighboring jurisdictions, utilities, developers, contractors, and local building owners are collaborating to create incentives for communities to reduce urban heat and mainstream these practices.

Cities surveyed in the report include: Albuquerque, NM; Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Chula Vista, CA; Cincinnati, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Houston, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Louisville, KY; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; St. Louis, MO, Toronto, ON; Vancouver, BC; and Washington, DC.

The survey is available on the Cool Roofs and Pavements Toolkit:

Assessing the Health Impacts of Urban Heat Island Strategies in the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia is susceptible to extreme heat events whose health impacts are exacerbated by the fact that the city is often significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas during the summer. The study found that a 10-percentage point increase in urban surface reflectivity could reduce the number of deaths during heat events by an average of 6%. Adding a 10% increase vegetative cover to the increases in reflectivity yielded an average 7% reduction in mortality during heat events. During the decades between 1948 and 2011, an average of 285 people died of heat-related causes. A 6-7% decrease in mortality would save approximately 20 lives per decade. In addition, an even larger reduction would be expected in hospital admissions from heat-related illness, although this was not a specific finding of this analysis. Changes in temperature and humidity (as measured by dew point temperature) in both scenarios were relatively minor, yet were significant enough to contribute to the reduction of deaths.

The District, given its current policy landscape and development, could achieve the increases in reflectivity and vegetation used in this study. Increasing District-wide roof reflectivity by 10 percentage points is achievable by converting dark grey roofs to white roofs on approximately 25 percent of the District’s buildings. Assuming the average roof lasts 20 years, the District could achieve this with end-of-life roof replacements in slightly more than 5 years. Achieving the same increase in reflectivity for pavements would require the conversion of 50 percent of District pavements from dark asphalt to a slightly lighter option like grey concrete. A significantly smaller percentage of pavements would need to be converted if cool coatings were applied where feasible.

Get the full study on our Cool Roofs and Cool Pavements ToolKit here.

Growing South African Markets for Efficient and Renewable Technologies

GCCA is leading a Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) initiative to grow a robust market for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in South Africa. The 3-year initiative is an opportunity for large and small U.S. businesses to better understand the South African business and policy environment, develop relationships with potential business partners, and demonstrate their products in new, developing markets.

Photo_DoE_Primer_ 11_05_2014_DSCN1177The  project team includes the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), University of South Florida (USF), PEER Africa, National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), and WinBuild.

Each partner brings a unique set of skills, access, and expertise to the project. LBNL, WinBuild, NFRC, and GCCA offer deep technical expertise and industry connections to a broad group of building envelope material manufacturers and suppliers. USF’s Solar Energy Research Center is a leading expert on a variety of solar energy applications, modeling, and training. SANEDI and PEER Africa provide unparalleled access to South African government representatives, municipal leaders, and key market stakeholders.

The project team will leverage existing relationships and significant progress achieved under the Global Superior Energy Performance Partnership (GSEP) Cool Roofs and Pavements Working Group. After joining the Working Group in January 2013, the South African government, led by SANEDI, has actively pursued a public-private strategy to grow the market and infrastructure for cool surfaces.

The project team will publish a series of online guides for American manufacturers and suppliers to detail the opportunities and challenges of the South African market and regulatory environment. The project team will also work with South African stakeholders to test and rate products, share best practices for growing a robust clean energy marketplace, and engage in workforce training to ensure that products are installed and maintained appropriately and develop capacity to manage the system following the initiative’s completion in 2016.

The first demonstration project was carried out by WinBuild, Inc., in partnership with a small California-based cool coatings manufacturer, and PEER Africa, a prominent developer and partner of a training initiative recognized by the South African Department of Energy called iEEECO Flagship Eskom Youth BEAT Program. Working together, the three groups outfitted an affordable home in the !Kheis municipality with a cool, reflective coating, improving living conditions and saving energy.

GCCA Responds to ASU Paper Unintended Consequences

The Global Cool Cities Alliance worked with a group of experts to review the statements made in Arizona State University’s Unintended Consequences. Each entry includes a direct quote from the paper, followed by a detailed explanation for why the quote is in error.

The review covered the 10 pages of the white paper between the executive summary through Section 6. We identified close to 60 major problems covered in 53 entries in the fact check document.

GCCA contacted Arizona State University to bring their attention to this deeply flawed report. The letter describing our concerns with the paper’s ethics and many factual errors can also be downloaded here.

You can find the original paper and our response here.

Partnership with C40

GCCA has partnered with C40 Cities of Climate Leadership (C40) to build the Cool Cities Network (CCN). CCN cities work together with technical experts to design, implement, and measure solutions-oriented approaches to promote sustainability by lowering urban temperatures.

The Cool Cities Network focuses on opportunities for cities to reap the economic, energy, health, environmental, and social benefits of reducing risks posed by heat waves and urban heat island effect through:

  • Tools and resources to identify the causes and impacts of heat waves and urban heat islands and to support design and launch of successful cool surface programs (such as cool roofs and reflective pavement)
  • Support development of city-specific action plans
  • Peer-to-peer and expert knowledge exchanges to share best practices, proven strategies, and data

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
C40 was created in 2005 by former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency in large cities across the world. Since then, C40 has grown from eighteen megacities to sixty-three members, who are working together to address the risks and impacts brought on by climate change both at the local and global level. C40 is committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related actions locally that will help address climate change globally. Their global field staff works with city governments, supported by their technical experts across a range of program areas.

CCN Cities
The CCN’s most active city participants include: Athens, Austin, Chicago, Changwon, Dhaka South, Houston, Los Angeles, Lima, Melbourne Mexico City, New Orleans, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Toronto, and Washington DC

What are the Network’s Areas of Focus?
Drawing directly upon the expressed network objectives from participating cities, the CCN has developed the following network work streams:

  1. Measuring and mapping heat and UHI – Sharing heat wave and UHI modeling and mapping methods amongst cities including mapping health and other effects
  2. Technology solutions to mitigate heat – Sharing of technology solutions and tools to determine best fit for conditions including specifics to climate zone, industry vs. residential, historic preservation, and integrated solutions (cooling + solar PV + green + stormwater)
  3. Green infrastructure and biodiversity – Sharing programs to use green infrastructure for cooling (in addition to co-benefits) and biodiversity strategies for cooling and species resilience in face of heat
  4. Integrating heat mitigation into long term planning, codes and regulations – Mainstreaming, making the political case to prioritize heat-related planning, and building heat mitigation strategies into plans, building and infrastructure codes and regulations
  5. Financing heat mitigation activities : Developing a replicable cost/benefit analysis for private property owners and policy makers to install or implement cooling on their property.