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Pittsburgh's Cool Roofs program aims to reduce heating, cooling costs

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 11:57 a.m.

Pittsburgh officials hope to save more than $2,000 this year by coating the roofs of 10 city-owned buildings with a reflective paint that will keep the buildings cooler.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl on Wednesday announced the city's “Cool Roofs” program could lower average electricity costs by 10 to 15 percent each month, and reduce the city's carbon dioxide emissions by 50 tons.

“Cool Roofs is another volunteer-fueled step forward in our efforts to make Pittsburgh a greener, more sustainable city,” Ravenstahl said during a kickoff event at the Engine 27 fire station in Mt. Washington.

Through the servePGH program, volunteers will coat about 50,000 square feet of roofs of 10 buildings, including fire stations, with white paint that will reflect the sun's rays. Dark roofs typically absorb sunlight and generate heat, which in turn lead to higher costs to cool the buildings.

The paint will help roofs and air conditioning units last longer and reduce the heat-island effect in which roads and buildings make urban areas hotter than rural ones. A $56,000 grant from the Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund will pay for the paint and tools.

Mayoral spokeswoman Marissa Doyle said the city received $100,000 from the service impact fund. The remainder will establish 10 gardens in the city.

Organizations interested in volunteering to help paint roofs in groups of 10 to 20 can call servePGH at 412-255-2280 or email servepgh@pittsburghpa.gov. Volunteers must be 18 or older.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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