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Fight Urban Heat with Cool Roofs

Climate Resolve is piloting a program to install cool roofs that lower energy costs and reduce the urban heat island effect


Climate Resolve

The Climate Ready Roofs program is a simple, collaborative project to bring solar technology and highly reflective cool roofs to low income urban areas. Climate Resolve and Grid Alternatives of Greater Los Angeles (GLA) are working together to install solar panels on single-family residences and further replace their deteriorating hot roof with a cool roof.

Each year, hundreds of low-income families for the California’s Single-Family Affordable Solar Housing Program (SASH), the nation’s first low-income solar program. However approximately 30 percent of qualified families cannot receive a solar electric system because of the condition of their roof. The Climate Ready Roofs program replaces the homeowners deteriorating hot roof with a cool roof making them eligible for the solar program.

A cool roof is made with materials that naturally reflect sunlight; sending solar waves harmlessly back into the atmosphere. While most standard roofs absorb the sun’s radiant energy into the building—transferring it as heat—cool roofs reflect much of the sunlight to keep buildings cooler, increasing comfort and reducing the risk of heat related illness. Typically, a homeowner will see approximately a 13 percent reduction in energy use after installation.

Cool surfaces — with reflective coatings on roofs, pavements, parking lots, playgrounds — provide enormous relief from the heat. We can all feel the difference in temperature between a tree-lined street and a barren stretch of wide sidewalk. Concrete, asphalt, and most roofs capture the sun’s energy, holding it and slowly radiating heat back out. These kinds of surfaces contribute to the urban heat island effect.

Cool Roofs: While most standard roofs absorb the sun’s radiant energy into the building — transferring it as heat — cool roofs reflects the sunlight to keep buildings cooler. Made from a variety of materials, cool roofs can be applied to new and existing roof surfaces on houses, garages, and commercial buildings. With a cool roof, the surface can be more than 50°F cooler during a hot summer day — cooling the interior of a building by several degrees Fahrenheit. The benefits: More comfort, and fewer chances of heat-related injuries or deaths. Even homes and other buildings without air-conditioning will stay cooler on the hotter days.

The electricity use of an average 1,200 square foot home in Los Angeles over a two decade period contributes to the release of 34 tons of CO2. With a cool roof and solar panels in place, the amount of electricity purchased from the utility will decline drastically and emissions will be only be 5 tons. The 29 ton reduction in CO2 emissions is a result of spending $9,550. That means for every dollar you contribute, you'll reduce 6.1 lbs of CO2.

Climate Resolve is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, founded in 2010, that is dedicated to creating real, practical solutions to meet the climate challenge while building a better city for Angelenos.

Our mission is to make Southern California more livable and prosperous today and for generations to come by inspiring people at home, at work, and in government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution, as well as prepare for climate change impacts.

To achieve our mission, we:
* Promote practical climate solutions for Southern California;
* Build collaborations to implement regional climate initiatives;
* Develop communication strategies that make local climate impacts relatable to people;
* Share our approach as a model for cities and regions across the world to create lasting global change.

Our team members are thought leaders in the fields of strategic advising; political and environmental strategy; policy; communications; planning and strategy; and community engagement. Climate Resolve has worked with state and local agencies, elected officials, universities, nonprofits, and the private sector in planning for and leveraging new sources of funding to achieve shared goals.

We know that local climate solutions will benefit all Angelenos, including those most affected by climate change impacts, and we strive for changes that are ambitious, achievable, and equitable. With our work, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions; cool urban areas; increase the number of clean vehicles, expand public transit and active transportation; share and contextualize climate science that affects Southern California and the broader region; protect our land and resources— and connect Angelenos, policy-makers, and other local leaders helping us with climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.

LA Department of Water and Power announcesnew rebates to make cool roofs affordable

Since 2014, all new residential construction and many major renovations have been required to install a cool roof. Cool roofs are compatible with other innovative, money-saving technologies, including solar panels and water catchment systems. Additionally, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) offers up to a $.30 per sq. ft. rebate for residential roofs. This rebate was expanded to include more roofs types and applicable products in the City of Los Angeles. Find more from the “Building Products” section of LADWP’s Consumer Rebate Program page.

A detailed PDF fact sheet is available here.

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