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Scientists, Sustainable South Bronx: Cool Surfaces Can Combat NYC Pollution, Save Energy, Improve Health; Green-Collar Jobs Needed

New York, New York, Oct. 16 - /EWire/ -- The widespread use of vegetated and highly reflective surfaces in New York City.s built environment could improve the City.s environment, public health, and economy, according to a study released today. Urban Heat Island Mitigation Strategies Can Improve New York City.s Environment, written in partnership between Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) and Columbia University.s Cool City Project, reviewed research that quantified effects of using vegetation and .cool. reflective surfaces in urban areas.

They call on policymakers to implement a strategic and comprehensive Urban Heat Island (UHI) mitigation plan, created in collaboration with environmental justice communities and citizen groups. Development of a local green-collar workforce that alleviates poverty, the study concludes, should be an integral goal of a successful initiative to mitigate the city.s heat island.

The urban heat island effect results in warmer surface and near-surface air temperatures in cities, caused by the greater proportion of heat-retaining rooftops, roads, and manmade surfaces in urban neighborhoods, with less vegetation and water to cool the air through shading and evapotranspiration. Due to the heat island effect, NYC.s temperature averaged 4-7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than surrounding suburbs and countryside during the 1990.s.

The new SSBx Working Paper, a review of research on the impacts of heat island mitigation on urban air quality, near-surface air temperature, and stormwater runoff, found strong evidence that UHI mitigation strategies such as lighter surfaces, cool roofs, urban reforestation and green roofs can detain stormwater runoff, lower surface and near-surface air temperatures, reduce summertime electricity use and potentially help to reduce ambient air pollutants. Reducing elevated urban temperatures may improve air quality . particularly ambient ozone levels that increase on hot summer days and are a significant public health stressor.

The mean air temperature in New York City may rise by two degrees in the next twenty-five years, and heat waves are expected to become more frequent, intense, and longer.

Joyce Klein Rosenthal, lead author and investigator for the Cool City Project at Columbia University said, .We already have strong evidence, through years of published findings of pilot projects and modeling studies, that cooler rooftops, pavements and streets along with trees and green roofs can cool

SSBxUrban Heat Island Mitigation Study Release . p.2

the urban environment, retains peak rainfall and delay stormwater runoff, and reduces peak summertime electricity demand. Community based organizations like Sustainable South Bronx are creatively using these opportunities to address the important remaining question: how many good jobs can be created for city residents in implementing green technologies?.

Research started in California in the 1990.s to model the potential effect of increasing the amount of light, reflective surfaces and vegetation on urban climate and air quality. These studies showed that by cooling the air, increased numbers of shade trees and vegetation and .cool. reflective surfaces could reduce summertime electricity demand and result in a net reduction of ozone concentrations in urban regions.

These earlier findings are consistent with research that evaluates the impacts of heat island mitigation in New York City; a study for NYSERDA (2007) concluded that maximum peak load electrical demand could be reduced through large-scale citywide planting of street trees and implementation of cool surfaces. And cities such as Portland, Oregon, have used rooftop pilot projects to measure the effects of green vegetated rooftops on stormwater runoff, finding that green roofs can detain significant quantities of peak rainfall, potentially alleviating stormwater pollution problems in urban neighborhoods if used in a sufficient scale.

The City of New York will raise and spend millions of dollars in the next decade on tree planting through its Million Trees Initiative. To protect and ensure the long-term benefits of this investment, coauthor of the report and MacArthur .genius. Fellow Majora Carter says, .We need a Green New Deal -- which includes jobs for New York City residents that create pathways out of poverty.

The study points to green roofs an example of a growth industry; while in its infancy in the United States, the green roof industry grew to an estimated $780 million/year in Germany by 2003. Additional green building strategies, such as green walls, have added potential to develop the green building industry and create green jobs. SSBx notes that the cost of green materials and techniques could be reduced through the development of eco-industrial parks, which could manufacture highly reflective pavement, green roofing materials, and other recycled materials through recovering raw materials from the city.s waste stream.

SSBx urges the City to collaborate with community groups . particularly in Environmental Justice communities . to perform neighborhood-based spatial analysis to evaluate the costs and benefits of these .cool. infrastructure techniques, and to implement these strategies accordingly. .We need to implement climate mitigation strategies comprehensively to addresses community-based needs while enhancing our city.s built and natural environments. said Rob Crauderueff, Policy Director of Sustainable South Bronx.

Added Kate Shackford, Executive Vice President of Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, .Reports like this illustrate the multiple benefits that can be achieved with innovative strategies that address the urban heat island affect. In our own research we found that in the first year of monitoring the Bronx County Building demonstration green roof, on the hottest July day there was a 60 degree difference between the green roof and the black roof monitoring boxes. We need new investments to combat these global problems impacting our urban communities..

The full report is available through the SSBx website:

We give special thanks to Columbia University's Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP) support for the Cool City Project and The Earth Institute at Columbia University's Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD) and EI's Education Programs for support of this research.

For more information:

Marsha Gordon, LCG Communications: 1- 718.853.5568;


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