Former Vice President Gore and Mayor Michael Bloomberg teamed up to help coat a Long Island City rooftop white last week, launching a new city program to reduce energy usage and greenhouses gas emissions.
Layers of reflective white coating cools rooftops, reducing roof and indoor temperatures and carbon emissions overall. Cool roofs, as white roofs are known, are fast becoming a popular, inexpensive way for cities to bring down energy costs.
To launch its “NYC Cool Roofs,” an NYC Service initiative, the city chose the wide, flat roof of the Long Island City YMCA on Queens Boulevard and 32nd Place.
Gore and Bloomberg, rollers in hand, painted a few square feet before giving way to a team of orange-shirted volunteers.
“I am proud to join Mayor Bloomberg and these dedicated volunteers to kick-off a great program that is going to make a real difference,” said Gore in prepared remarks. “The threat we face from the climate crisis is unsurpassed and smart policies like installing cool roofs are one way that we are going to meet that challenge.”
Gore emerged as a prominent environmental advocate before his election to the White House alongside former President Bill Clinton in 1992. Since leaving office, he has spoken extensively against the harms of global warming, and won a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
Gore praised Bloomberg for the mayor’s environmental work in New York City, saying mayors across the country should follow his example. Bloomberg said the white coating initiative was a no-brainer.
“It’s such a simple concept - anyone who has ever gotten dressed in the summer knows it - light-colored surfaces absorb less heat than darker surfaces,” said Bloomberg, who appeared at the event dressed in an orange NYC Service tee shirt and khakis. (Gore wore a black shirt and blue jeans).
“Reflective rooftops are a simple yet powerful tool in the fight we have been leading against climate change,” the mayor added.
According to Bloomberg’s office, cool roofs absorb on average 80 percent less heat than standard roofs, traditionally painted black or silver.
Cool roofs can reduce air conditioning costs by about 50 percent in a one-story building, and by about 10 percent in a five-story building.
Under the NYC Cool Roofs initiative, teams of volunteers will paint 100,000 square-feet of Long island City rooftops white between September 24 and October 9, the mayor’s office said.