For the next two-three days, we’ll be experiencing oppressive high temperatures and humidity, the latter compliments of what was Hurricane Barry in the Gulf of Mexico.
A lot of the sweltering heat will be due to what the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) calls a heat dome, a condition when the atmosphere traps hot ocean air like a lid.
Here are a few headlines that will not cheer you up:
The Washington Post: Widespread, oppressive and dangerous heat to roast much of the U.S. through the weekend
The New York Times: Heat Wave to Hit Two-Thirds of the U.S. Dangerously hot temperatures are predicted from Oklahoma to New England
New York Post: Heatwave expected to roast NYC this weekend
It always gets very hot around this time of year. But this heatwave will break records due to its enormous geographic reach.
I’m not going to give you tips on how to stay cool. Plenty of places have that information available. What I am going to do is touch upon a previously visited topic – heat reduction in commercial, industrial and multi-family residential buildings.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Urban Heat Island Effect wherein high-density areas like New York City are hotter than surrounding, more rural areas due to buildings, pavements, roads – a lot of which have dark or black surfaces – and human activities.
How to mitigate those effects could fill a book but I’m only going to address one aspect by asking one question: What’s on your roof?
If it’s an urban farm or green roof, you’re already in the zone. If it’s not and you have no plans to install a green roof, I have four words for you…paint the roof white.
Not just white. You’ll want to paint it with a solar reflective white coating that will reflect up to 90% of sunlight and serve to reduce energy costs. A white roof keeps a building cooler and reduces maintenance costs by eliminating heat warping. Lowered energy use also means less pollution and a reduction in urban energy hot spots. By reducing peak demand, we also reduce the potential for blackouts.
You’ll find a lot more information at whiteroofproject.org including that a reflective white roof can save up to 40% on an electric bill as well as the organization’s predictions for the future.
We’ll also make a prediction. If the White Roof Project has its way, it will make a uniquely New York pastime, already on the wane, obsolete – tanning on tar beach.
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Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD+C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services