By Nathan Duke
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he planned to paint the town white upon meeting with former Vice President Al Gore last week on top of a Long Island City YMCA, where the two made the roof more environmentally friendly by adding a coat of paint.
The mayor said the city is undertaking a project that will transform 100,000 square feet of rooftop in Long Island City. The project, which began last Thursday and will last through Oct. 9, will cool off buildings in the community by adding a coat of white paint over dark-colored roofs, which can reduce rooftop temperatures and lower electric bills.
“White is the new green,” Bloomberg said. “The internal temperature on the top floor of a building can be 10 to 20 degrees cooler, which translates to substantial savings for building owners. And it relieves the strain on the power grid, which results in less power outages.”
The mayor said a “white roof” can cut a building’s annual electric bill in half.
Gore, who is the founder and chairman of the Alliance for Climate Protection as well as a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work on climate change, said improving the city’s environment would also boost its economy.
“Actions that help to solve the climate crisis also have a profound economic benefit,” the former vice president said. “This demonstrates that when we do the right thing for the environment, more often than not it is also the best thing for the economy.”
The mayor said painting a roof white is a far cheaper solution to making a building more energy efficient than creating a “green roof,” which typically involves hiring a contractor and can be costly.
Bloomberg and Gore added a coat of white paint to the roof of the Long Island City YMCA, at 32-23 Queens Blvd., with large paint rollers last Thursday. The mayor said volunteers would continue to paint over the roofs of industrial buildings in the neighborhood for the duration of the project. If the project is successful, it could be expanded in April, when city temperatures begin to rise, he said.
“If we don’t do something about the environment, we won’t have a future,” Bloomberg said.
The rooftop conversions are part of Bloomberg’s PlanNYC initiative, which aims to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.