We regularly review the benefits of liquid roof coatings in this space. They reduce the temperature of the roof itself as well as the interior of the building, lowering power bills as well as the emissions associated with generating electricity and the wear and tear on cooling equipment associated with normal operations. Thus, the useful life of both the roof and the HVAC system can be significantly extended.

The benefits go beyond an individual building. When 2,500 square feet of roof is coated, the local carbon footprint is reduced by as much as an entire ton of carbon dioxide. That’s because the heat trapped by traditional black roofing materials contributes to the “heat island” effect, in which areas that have mostly been covered by buildings and roads experience average temperatures up to 5° F higher than less paved areas with more trees. The result is higher cooling bills even for buildings that aren’t contributing as much to the problem, not to mention the increased risks of respiratory problems, heart disease, and strokes.

From this perspective, heat-trapping roofs aren’t just a problem for building owners – they affect everyone nearby. So some municipalities are trying community-based approaches to turning down the heat.

NYC CoolRoofs

Established in 2009, NYC CoolRoofs is a city program that combines the installation of energy-conserving liquid roof coatings with job training. The collaborative effort among five city agencies is part of the city’s work toward becoming carbon-neutral by the year 2050.

If they meet a short list of conditions, non-profit organizations, low-income housing, community centers, educational facilities, hospitals and clinics can receive a cool roof coating at no charge. All other building owners can receive free labor, technical assistance, and ancillary materials (like rollers and brushes) if they pay for the coating material, which is offered at a discounted rate. Before the pandemic, individuals could volunteer to participate and businesses could sponsor installations as team-building exercises for their employees. Like everything else in the world, the program has had to adapt to changing conditions, but they’ve stuck to their original goal of coating one million square feet of roof coatings every year. 

Cool Block

By contrast, Chelsea, Massachusetts, at 2.5 square miles, is the smallest city in the state by area and has only 40,000 residents. It also differs from New York City in that the entire municipality is covered by a heat island.

The non-profit Cool Block project has adopted a single city block with an average temperature seven degrees higher than the already-high average of the rest of the city, installing what appears to be every heat-combating tool in existence: new trees, porous pavers, white concrete, grey asphalt instead of black. They’re collaborating with researchers at Boston University and the city government, which is negotiating with the Boys & Girls Club on the block about installing a cool roof coating. When the improvements are complete, the total cost will be about $350,000, most of which will be covered by a state grant.

Alex Train, Chelsea’s director of housing and community development, says a liquid roof coating applied to an elementary school in another part of the city lowered the surface temperature of the roof by 20 degrees. The average air temperature around the school dropped by 7 to 10° F during the summer months.

Cool roof technologies don’t just lower individual power bills – they help surrounding communities and the planet as a whole, even if only to a small extent.  Incremental improvements can add up to real change.  If you have questions about elastomeric coatings, the roofing professionals at Energy Seal can help. Call us at 800.587.3758 or e-mail us at sales@energy-seal.com.