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Environment & Energy

New 'Cool Roofs' Initiative Seeks to Increase Energy Efficiency with Reflective Paint

Deanna Garcia
90.5 WESA

The Cool Roofs program has officially launched in Pittsburgh. Through the servePGH initiative, the roofs of 10 city-owned buildings will be coated with reflective paint.

“In the coming months, volunteers will help paint approximately 50,000 square feet of city-owned roofs with a special, eco-friendly white coating,” said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

The reflective surface will help reduce carbon emissions and decrease energy costs for the buildings, and eventually that energy savings could extend to wider areas.

“Urban environments, due to the asphalt and dark-colored roofs, tend to trap heat — the urban heat island effect, I’m sure you’ve all heard of it," said Lindsay Baxter with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. "As we see more and more buildings adopting this technology we’re actually going to see less occurrence of the heat island effect in our city.”

The reflective paint coating is expected to reduce internal building temperature by up to 30 percent, and in its first year is expected to reduce the city’s Co2 emissions by 50 tons. Baxter said the hope is the program will serve as a model and continue to expand.

“I hope that some commercial building owners will see this project and see the benefits to the city and consider adopting it on their rooftops,” she said.

The Cool Roofs program is funded by the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund Grant and the city’s Green Trust Fund. New York City was the first to implement a Cool Roof program and has been helping with its implementation in Pittsburgh.

One of the first buildings in the city to have its roof painted will be Fire Engine 27 in Mt. Washington.