Tag Archives: Cool Roofs

4 ways your city can be cooler next summer

This summer was a scorcher. Heat waves repeatedly struck the Midwest and South, sparing only sections of the Northeast. All of California is still in a drought. Cities were especially hot due to their concentration of buildings and human activity, a phenomenon called the urban heat island effect. At times, it may have felt impossible to beat the heat. Luckily, a recent report from ACEEE and the Global Cool Cities Alliance, Cool Policies for Cool Cities, shows how local governments enable communities to beat the heat before it starts. By employing the following cooling and energy-efficient practices before next summer, cities across North America can keep their cool:

Plant a Tree. A Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Older trees with broad leaves and reaching branches provide a lot of shade for parks, pavements, homes, and offices, helping to keep them cool. They also clean the air and produce oxygen. Local governments often plant trees on city land, but did you know that many cities also provide free or discounted trees for planting on private land?

The Million Trees NYC program provides free trees to property owners, and runs a hotline for residents to call requesting a street tree be planted on their block.
Portland, Oregon offers a “Treebate” in the form of a $15-50 water bill credit to property owners who plant a tree on their land.
Grow Boston Greener offers a $2,500 grant competition to fund tree planting in selected neighborhoods.

Paint your roof. Dark-colored roofs trap and store heat. This heat radiates into the building, and doesn’t dissipate at night. Trapped heat is unpleasant and costly for residents who are forced to crank their AC, and is dangerous,sometimes deadly, for residents who don’t have access to air conditioning. A light-colored or reflective roof traps and stores considerably less heat. Cool roofs, for the same price as dark roofs, reflect the sun’s rays back out into the atmosphere. Recognizing the energy-efficient and publicly beneficial nature of cool roofs, some cities (and the entire State of California) require or encourage new and updated roofs to be reflective.

New and updated roofs in Los Angeles are required to meet a standard reflectiveness. To reduce the cost even further, LA’s Department of Water and Power offers a rebate of $0.20 to $0.30 per square foot.
St. Louis provides an innovative, low-cost financing option called Set the PACE St. Louis for residents replacing their traditional roof with one meeting a reflectiveness standard.

Replace dark pavement. Dark pavements also absorb, trap, and slowly release heat. You’ve experienced this running barefoot across a blacktop basketball court or parking lot. Light pavement, on the other hand, can be 50°-70°F cooler. Replacing dark pavement with vegetation also reduces the urban heat island effect. Grass and other permeable surfaces keep a city’s temperature down compared to pavement. As a bonus, they also filter stormwater. Cities have begun to encourage residents to paint parking lots, play areas, and alleyways with reflective coatings, or replace them with porous materials.

Chicago’s Green Alleys program transforms traditional alleyways into permeable ones. The program also empowers residents to derive more benefit from their green alleyways through pamphlets about landscaping and maintenance techniques.
Washington D.C.’s Riversmart programs enable individuals and communities to replace dark pavement and build green stormwater infrastructure through a series of grants and rebates.
Philadelphia offers stormwater bill credits to commercial property owners that install green stormwater infrastructure.

Vegetate your roof. A green roof eliminates the negative heat effects of a dark roof, and adds the benefits of oxygen exchange, amenity space, and opportunity for urban agriculture. Building a vegetated roof may seem like an expensive project, but many local governments are willing to share your costs.

Toronto, Ontario offers the Eco-Roof Incentive, a $75 per square meter rebate to help residents and businesses complete a green roof project.
Austin encourages green roofs by offering a variety of credits to developers for open space, parkland, and stormwater management. Density bonuses are also available.
Residents of Cincinnati may apply for a below-market-rate loan to install a vegetated roof. This is an effort through the Ohio EPA, the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Office of Environmental & Sustainability.

Many local governments already do their part to reduce the urban heat island effect on their own properties, and some provide resources to help members of their communities do their part as well. Although the cities mentioned in this post (and many, many others!) are taking steps to reduce the urban heat island effect, every community can do more. An important driver of increasing urban heat island mitigation policies within a community is citizen demand. Strong private demand can help any of these cool technologies become standard market practice. Investing in cool technologies and buildings makes a community pleasant for all its inhabitants and visitors! Interested in learning more or cooling down your own city? First, check out the report to see what your city is doing to create a cool community. Next, participate in the programs that are available. If you aren’t impressed with what is offered, get involved and ask your city to keep its cool.


Originally posted on ACEEE’s blog: http://aceee.org/blog/2014/08/4-ways-your-city-can-be-cooler-next-s

Cool Surfaces News Roundup: July 2014

Each quarter, the Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA) compiles the media covering cool roofs, cool pavements, and a wide range of urban heat island-related issues in a report we callCool Retrospective.  In this issue, we take a look back at the first half of 2014.

So far this year, a number of cities and countries have adopted new cool surface policies to mitigate the impacts of excess urban heat. Several new studies were released that highlight how reducing urban heat islands can address health, energy, environmental, and social justice issues.  You can find our latest news round-up online here.

Cities Taking On Extreme Heat Down Under

Research commissioned by the City of Melbourne as part of its Climate Change Adaptation Strategy found that a January heat wave cost local businesses approximately $37 million.  City administrators know that with the increased frequency and intensity of heatwaves, they need to understand of the economic impacts of such events on businesses.  From theCity of Melbourne

City of Melbourne Environment portfolio chair, Councillor Arron Wood, said Council is firmly focused on building Melbourne’s resilience to climate impacts.

“We’re doubling tree canopy cover for our urban forest, upgrading drainage infrastructure, funding more energy efficient buildings, implementing planning processes to minimise climate risk and installing various water-sensitive urban design initiatives.  Heatwaves don’t only impact our city economically, heat related illness also kills more Australian’s each year than any other natural disaster so City of Melbourne has identified this as a priority issue we must prepare better for,” Cr Wood said.

Meanwhile, the City of Sydney is conducting a trial to see if lighter colored pavement will help reduce the urban heat island effect and improve the comfort and health of the people who live there.  From Australia’s Business Insider:

“Materials such as concrete and cement store more heat than natural surfaces, absorbing it during the day and releasing it at night, which can contribute to hotter urban areas,  . . .  Lighter coloured pavements may result in lower energy bills for surrounding buildings.”

IPCC Report: Cool Roofs Help Reduce Urban Heat

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change brought together 235 authors from 58 nations to map out strategies for mitigating the impact of climate change.  The buildings section of their report notes that sixty percent of urban surfaces are covered by pavement or rooftops, and that cool roofs can help reduce energy demand, lower temperatures within buildings, improve air quality, and lessen the impact of the urban heat island effect in cities around the world.

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.

Growing the Market for Energy Efficiency in South Africa

U.S. Department of Energy Launches Effort to Grow the Market for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in South Africa

WASHINGTON, D.C— The Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) launched a new initiative to grow a robust market for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in South Africa.  The 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.

The Global Cool Cities Alliance is leading a project team that 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 collaboration is an excellent demonstration of how U.S. technologies can help other nations reach their energy goals.  It will spur growth of African markets for energy efficient and renewable energy technologies, providing an opportunity for American companies abroad, while also building a skilled domestic workforce,” said Rob Sandoli, Director of the Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy International Program..

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.

“The reflective paint has made a very large improvement in temperature in our home,” said Elton Speelman, a recipient of the pilot project’s reflective paint. “My father used to have to take his bed outside to nap because it was too warm inside, but now we can nap inside on a hot day.  We are very happy with the paint.”

Cool coating applied to new affordable housing structure. Photo: PEER Africa

The initiative goes well beyond heating and cooling, to encourage deployment of other clean energy technologies into the South African market.  The project prioritizes in-demand products: solar water heaters, solar PV technologies, LED lighting, daylight harvesting systems, and more.

GSEP Helps Mexico Identify Energy and Emission Savings from Cool Roofs

A national study involving 7 major cities covering each of Mexico’s 6 climate zones, found that cool roofs could help commercial and residential buildings reduce energy consumption by 7 to 18 percent.  The study also found that if cool roof technology were used in just three of the cities studied, it could result in the carbon pollution savings of taking 480,000 cars off the roads, and that these cool roof investments would pay for themselves within 3 years.  It is hoped that studies such as this will help raise global awareness of the energy saving potential of cool surfaces, and help drive supportive policies and market growth for these technologies.

The study was conducted as part of a comprehensive “Cool Roofs Action Plan” developed through support from the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Global Superior Energy Performance Partnership (GSEP).  The Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA) is coordinating GSEP’s Cool Roofs and Pavements Working Group, and GCCA’s Executive Director, Kurt Shickman is one of the authors of this study.  You can learn more about GCCA’s work on GSEP here.

New GSEP Pilot Project to Cool Roofs in Jasdan India

Our cities are heating up just as incomes are rising and the cost of air conditioning units are dropping around the world.  This creates a vicious cycle that drives up energy demand, puts a strain on our infrastructure and pumps more carbon into our atmosphere.  It’s little wonder that cities are looking for cleaner, cooler, and more sustainable ways to deal with urban heat.

That’s where the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Global Superior Energy Performance Partnership (GSEP) Cool Roofs and Pavements Working Group comes in.   A new GSEP pilot program is being launched in Jasdan, India, where they will use cool surfaces and other energy efficient technology to reduce energy use and lower utility bills in low-income housing units.   The project will also train local residents in the construction of “cool” homes.  This initial pilot project will start with 8 homes, but it could help the Indian government adopt these cool surface technologies on a wider scale.

The Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA) is coordinating the Cool Roofs and Pavements Working Group.  The goals of this working group are to reduce energy use in buildings, improve the health and resiliency of urban populations and help cities prepare for the warming effects of climate change.   You can learn more about GCCA’s work on GSEP here.

GCCA Releases Cool Surfaces Retrospective 2013

Periodically, the Global Cool Cities Alliance will highlight trending topics covering a wide range of urban heat island-related issues in a feature we call Cool Retrospective.  For our inaugural issue, we review cool developments in 2013.

2013 saw a number of cities make huge strides to mitigate the impacts of excess urban heat by adopting new cool surface policies.  New studies identified the economic advantages of cool roofing and highlighted other critical benefits of reducing urban heat islands.

You can read all about it HERE.