White is the new black for L.E.S. efficient roofs


As part of an effort to cut energy consumption on a single city block, on Monday, Borough President Scott Stringer, Go Green! Lower East Side and a coalition of community groups joined forces to paint 35,000 square feet of rooftops with white reflective paint.

The coating reflects 90 percent of sunlight, which will reportedly lead to a dramatic reduction in cooling costs.

The coalition includes FAB (Fourth Arts Block — E. Fourth St. Cultural District), The White Roof Project, NYC CoolRoofs and Con Edison. The rooftops that were painted belong to the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association.

The roof-painting blitz is the first phase of the Model Block Project, an urban environmental sustainability program led by Go Green! Lower East Side (GGLES) that will showcase what happens when a single block collectively participates in sound environmental practices.

“Today’s event is proof that when individuals work together, they don’t just change their respective circumstances — they change the world,” Stringer said. “White roof painting is a strategy that is environmental and economical. This is a model that can be replicated throughout New York City as a way to modernize and sustain our affordable housing stock. It shows us that, if we put our minds to it, we change our city one block at a time.”

Cooper Square Mutual Housing is a low-income housing management company that helps preserve and develop affordable and environmentally healthy housing and community and cultural spaces in the East Village and Lower East Side. The M.H.A. currently manages 377 residential apartments and 24 storefronts in 23 buildings, and is in the process of converting 21 rehabilitated buildings into a single nonprofit co-op. Twelve of those buildings are part of the one-block-long E. Fourth St. Cultural District, between the Bowery and Second Ave., which includes 12 theaters, eight dance/rehearsal studios three film editing suites and a large screening room.

“Cooper Square M.H.A.’s main goal is the preservation and development of affordable housing,” said Val Orselli, the organization’s executive director. “We welcome and enthusiastically support the white roof initiative, which will make our building roofs as much as 25 percent more energy efficient, thus lowering our electrical and fuel costs.” 

“Once again the Lower East Side is leading the way when it comes to energy efficiency and sustainability,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “This white roof painting initiative is one of several important projects in Lower Manhattan that are helping residents save on energy costs while making a positive impact on the global effort to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.”

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, a member of the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee, said, “This may be the best use of white paint to bring a community together since Tom Sawyer and his picket fence. We have to keep looking for innovative, practical ways to reduce energy use and make New York more sustainable.”

“Community Board 3 is proud to support the Model Block Project, including white roofs,” said C.B. 3 Chairperson Dominic Pisciotta. “White roofs offer an opportunity for us all to participate in energy sustainability and economic savings.”