The Lower East Side (LES) of Manhattan has often witnessed the nascency of American social change. The women’s movement and the labor movement were born here, and now the environmental movement is pushing its way out of the fertile LES womb into the consciousness of New York city residents across the boroughs.
The White Roof Project has partnered with the Fourth Arts Block (FABnyc.org) and the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association with the backing of the Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer, to create a “model block” between E. 4th and E. 3rd streets, between Bowery and Second Avenue. It sounds more simple than revolutionary – paint the black roof white. However, coordinating the 20 building owners on this single block, $15,000 worth of materials and 150 volunteers to paint 30,000 plus square feet of black roof white isn’t simple at all. It’s inspiring! This diverse community is working collectively for the benefit of the E. 4th Street residents and the city as a whole. LOOK UP and you will see a quiet but potentially very real rooftop revolution in its infancy.
Let’s take a look at what happens when the black roof becomes white. It’s not just any white paint, but a formulation that reflects back 90% of the sun’s rays, rather than absorbing them, as does a black roof. On the hottest summer days, a white roof will be 30 degrees cooler than a black roof, making the 6th floor walk-up residents especially happy, plus the AC will need far less juice to keep these homes adequately cooled.
This is a single “model block,” but the vision is to transform black roofs to white, block by block, throughout New York City. Should the goal of painting all NYC black roofs white be achieved, Scott Stringer reported that climate scientists have calculated the temperature of New York City will “drop by 2 degrees.” In July, when it’s hot and sweaty out there, a city 2 degrees cooler would be very welcome, indeed!
Combine a little white paint along with a lot of elbow grease and we’ve cooled our city, reduced global warming and consumed far less energy to keep our homes and businesses comfy. White really is green in NYC.
There will be dates in September to complete the black to white roof transformation of the E. 4th Street “model block.” If you want to be part of this climate change revolution – and spend time on a great roof – click on NYC Cool Roofs (http://www.nyc.gov/html/coolroofs/html/involved/volunteer.shtml) to sign up as a foot soldier in this rooftop revolution.