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The Bowery Mission’s White Rooftop

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Image via White Roof Project's Facebook Page

This past weekend, we were over at the Bowery Mission to witness quite a spectacle: dozens of volunteers crawling through windows and climbing up ladders — paint brushes in hand — to paint the organization’s 10,000 square foot rooftop. If you caught Bill Clinton on the Daily Show or Letterman the other night, you might have already figured out what this is all about. 

He was speaking to a growing trend in big cities across the country: coating urban rooftops with a special kind of reflective paint as a way of lowering energy costs (by as much as 20% on hot days). By the end of October, a New York City program called “Cool Roofs,” has a goal of painting one-million square feet.

The Bowery Mission endeavor was jointly organized by the Community Environmental Center, White Tops NYC and the White Roof Project (which is affiliated with Manhattan Young Democrats).  It took the volunteers three days (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) to paint the building’s five roof surfaces.  Over the next few months, the mission will be comparing energy bills — tracking how much the white roof is helping to reduce costs.

The city program has covered about 700,000 square feet — so they still have a ways to go. White Roof Project organizers are in search of more non-profit groups who might want to have their rooftops painted. Visit their web site for more information.

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