So, why has Mayor Mike Bloomberg only now coming around to doing anything about it when it comes to the millions of square feet of rooftops under City control? He made a big show of painting a rooftop white with former Vice President Al Gore, but why has he been a no-show when it comes to actually doing something about the problem.
Bloomberg said the benefits of coating a roof with reflective white paint are well known. It can reduce temperatures by as much as 60 degrees on the roofs, and by 10 to 20 degrees inside, cutting energy bills and reducing carbon emissions.
"It is quite amazing—the payback on these kinds of investments really are very quick and make an enormous difference," the mayor said.
The city has identified some 300 buildings that could benefit from the simple makeover, but nothing has been done.
Officials say they are waiting for results from a pilot program in Queens, which is what Gore and Bloomberg were touting Thursday.
Volunteers have begun painting 100,000 square feet of rooftop space there—not city buildings—and Columbia University's Center for Climate Systems Research will study the energy and cost savings.
The environmental and economic advantages of white roofs have been known for years.
Arthur Rosenfeld, a member of the California Energy Commission, documented the effectiveness of reflective roofs in a study 15 years ago. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently encouraged Americans to embrace the practice.
He simply found it easier to demand others take such measures by altering the building code, but he's allowed the City to shirk its own obligations. The city's taxpayers pay for the energy usage through their tax dollars, and by failing to reduce those energy expenditures, Bloomberg is failing his fiscal obligations to the taxpayers of the city. Given the dire fiscal shape of the city, it would seem that the mayor is ignoring a clear area for improvement and reduction of costs and overhead for the long term.
Moreover, the majority of the City's CO2 emissions comes from its buildings. It would seem to be a no-brainer to take action to reduce those emissions, which would also save serious money over the life of those buildings, but so far we've got nothing to show for all of Bloomberg's pompous words on environmentalism.