“Cool Roofs” on New Construction Reduce Urban Heat Island Effect

Dallas, Texas requires all new construction within the city to install “cool roofs,” in an effort to reduce the urban heat island effect. New buildings must use roofing materials that reflect solar heat on at least 75% of the roof’s surface, have a vegetated roof that covers at least 50% of the area, or use a combination of the two solutions.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, cool roofs are designed to reflect – rather than absorb – the heat and can help cool the inside of a building. Studies have shown that in metropolitan areas cool roofs can help temperatures drop by about 3 degrees Fahrenheit.

“They have the potential to reduce emissions in one of our biggest sectors — buildings and energy — in a way that cuts energy costs to the consumer,” said James McGuire, director of the Dallas Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability.

New York City’s NYC CoolRoofs program provides existing buildings with cool roofs. The roofs are installed for free or at a low cost to nonprofits, community or recreational centers, schools, hospitals, museums and cultural centers, and co-op housing. The initiative is a partnership between the NYC Department of Small Business Services, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, and Sustainable South Bronx, a division of The HOPE Program and provides local job seekers with training and work experience installing the energy-saving reflective rooftops. During calendar year 2018 the program installed 1.5 million square feet (~ 140,000 sq. meters) of the rooftops, exceeding its annual goal of 1 million square feet.

“Reflective roofs keep buildings cooler and clusters of them help to reduce local temperatures in our neighborhoods,” said Jainey Bavishi, director of the Mayor’s office of recovery and resiliency. “Improvements under the NYC °CoolRoofs program are already paying dividends to New Yorkers across the city, and especially families living in heat-vulnerable areas. We look forward to working with even more building owners and non-profit, affordable housing, and community partners to help keep our city cool and New Yorkers safe and healthy during the hot summer months.”