08 Mar 2012:
New York Roof Study Shows
Drastic Cooling with White Surfaces
A New York City roof covered in a white synthetic membrane was on average 43 degrees F cooler than surrounding black tar and asphalt roofs
during times of peak heat last summer, according to a study by scientists from Columbia University and NASA. On the hottest day of the summer — July 22, 2011,
when the city set a record for electricity usage during a heat wave — the dark surfaces of some New York City roofs reached 170 degrees F, while temperatures on the white test roof peaked at less than 130 degrees F. The city’s CoolRoofs initiative
is working to install “living roofs” with plants and to convert many tar and asphalt roofs to a white color using membranes or white paint. The goal, the city says, is to help reduce the urban “heat island” effect, which can boost temperatures by 5 to 7 degrees F, especially at night. Lowering the heat island effect would reduce demand for air conditioning and cut illnesses and deaths during heat waves. Converting roofs to white is cheaper than planting “living roofs,” and research showed said that the white membrane roof performed well over numerous years of the study. “Bright is the new black,” said Stuart Gaffin, a Columbia research scientist and lead author of the study, published in Environmental Research Letters.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
e360 on Facebook
Donate to e360
View mobile site
Subscribe to our feed:
South African photojournalist Adam Welz documents the harrowing relocation of six white rhinos to a region that has lost all its rhinos to poaching. View the gallery.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A Yale Environment 360
video explores Ecuador’s threatened Yasuni Biosphere Reserve with scientists inventorying its stunning forests and wildlife. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
In a Yale Environment 360
video, photographer Pete McBride documents how increasing water demands have transformed the Colorado River, the lifeblood of the arid Southwest. Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video that chronicles the story of a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant, was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).
Watch the video.