Author Archives: Karen

Karen Smith-Murphy

Chicago Marks a Deadly Anniversary

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the deadly heatwave in Chicago, IL, which killed an estimated 739 people and showed that even in northern climates, urban heat kills.  Our world was already warming in 1995, but 20 years ago this northern city wasn’t used to these extreme heat events and many Chicago residents didn’t  Read More…

American Institute of Architects Recognizes the Benefits of Cool Roofs

In April of this year, GCCA Board Member Greg Kats published a study of the health benefits of cool roofs on Washington DC-owned buildings. After the District retrofitted many of its buildings with white roofs, green roofs, and / or solar collectors the city started saving money. This study turns things on its head by  Read More…

The Power of Cool Coatings!

The Northern Cape Province of South Africa is mainly semi-desert. In January, afternoon temperatures usually range from 34 to 40 degrees Celsius. In 1939, an all time high of 47.8 degrees Celsius was recorded at the Orange River. Summer temperatures often top the 40 degree mark in this region (104 Fahrenheit). This video explains how  Read More…

GCCA Part of Coalition to Study Benefits of Smart Roofs on Affordable Housing

n response to growing interest in understanding the health, economic, social, and energy implications of greener affordable housing, GCCA partnered with clean energy and green building research and advising firm, Capital E, and several national non-profits (including AIA and USGBC), to study the costs and benefits of smart roof technologies.  Based on a first-of-its-kind analyses  Read More…

A Standard is Born

GCCA Board Member Ronnen Levinson just announced the publication of ASTM D7897-15, ‘Standard Practice for Laboratory Soiling and Weathering of Roofing Materials to Simulate Effects of Natural Exposure on Solar Reflectance and Thermal Emittance’. This practice was developed and shepherded through ASTM by the LBNL Heat Island Group and by Concordia University, with support from  Read More…

Video Explains How Reflectivity Can Change Over Time

GCCA Board Member and researcher at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory’s Heat Island Group, Ronnen Levinson, explains how the reflectivity of cool roofing materials can change over time in this new video. He also introduces LBNL’s new California Cities Albedo Map, which estimates the reflectivity of roofs in five California cities. You can find more  Read More…

Studies Draw Direct Line from Climate Change to Extreme Heat and Drought

A new report from the Climate Council of Australia confirms what many have long suspected – that human-caused climate change makes heat waves more certain and more extreme. 2013 was the hottest year on record in Australia, and as this report notes, the 2012 / 2013 heat waves would have been “virtually impossible” without the  Read More…

Northern Cities Run Hot and Cold

You wouldn’t look at a list of the 50 coldest cities in the United States and think, “boy, I bet those cities have a real urban heat island problem” – would you? But for several of the cities on this list, that’s exactly what’s going on. Albany, NY, and Des Moines, IA – both in  Read More…

Lead IPCC Author Warns of Extreme Heat Waves

National Public Radio’s Rachel Martin spoke recently with Michael Oppenheimer, the coordinating lead author of the synthesis report of the IPCC’s Fifth Climate Assessment.  During the interview, Oppenheimer noted that the urban heat island effect will become more of a threat in the years to come, warning that heat waves will become more frequent and  Read More…

Cool Roofs Are Cooling Homes in India

Climate change is driving up temperatures in cities around the world.  When things heat up, many of us simply reach for the thermostat and the air conditioner does its job.  In many parts of the world however, air conditioning isn’t an option and the rising temperatures mean homes become uninhabitable.   But there is a simple  Read More…

Record Breaking Heatwave Hits Australia

It’s springtime in the Outback and things are heating up in Australia.  Summer doesn’t begin until December, but record temperatures have already been set at 20 stations throughout the country recently, topping out at 108.6 F in the town of St. George.  Heatwaves are hitting earlier and lasting longer than usual.  Climate Progress has the  Read More…

GCCA Executive Director Speaks at GreenBuild Conference

Thousands of people gathered in New Orleans, LA earlier this week for the annual Greenbuild conference, to share ideas, network, tour local green buildings and hear from many terrific speakers.  From the conference website: Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building.  The green building community gathers to share ideals and  Read More…

Urban Heat Island Turns Top Floor Apartments into Ovens

It doesn’t matter where you live – extreme urban heat is a major problem and it’s getting worse.   As the effects of climate change take hold, temperatures are steadily rising – this year is on track to be the hottest on record and there’s no relief in sight for city-dwellers.   Especially those in poorer neighborhoods.  Read More…

Los Angeles White Roofs Building Code is Online

Speaking of useful resources… Last December, the Los Angeles City Council updated the city’s building code – which required the installation of white roofs on commercial structures – to require the installation of white roofs on new and rebuilt residential structures.  The city has put all the documents and discussion on line in their docket  Read More…

Cool Resources for Cool Cities

This is just a quick reminder that we’ve put together a great resources page here on our ToolKit, and we hope you’ll explore it a little to see what else is available on reflective surfaces.  Meanwhile, here are a few of the highlights… Our guide on cool roofs and pavements is a must-read for anyone  Read More…

See How White Roofs Are Taking off in South Korea (Video)

They’re painting their roofs white in South Korea, and we found this peppy little video to illustrate how it’s done. Take a look!

Catch GCCA Executive Director Kurt Shickman on KCRW

Madeleine Brand, a reporter for NPR station KCRW in Santa Monica, California, noted that extreme heat is now the most deadly of weather-driven disasters.  She invited GCCA’s Executive Director, Kurt Shickman on her show to talk about the urban heat island effect, and Kurt explained how cool roofs can help cities cool down, conserve energy  Read More…

LBNL Develops New Interactive Rooftop Reflectance Map

Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) have created an interactive map that displays the solar reflectance (or albedo) of individual roofs in five major California cities – Bakersfield, Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose.   This is the first time scientists have attempted to map the reflectivity of entire cities. A  Read More…

Cool Roofs and Energy Efficiency in China

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has conducted the first comprehensive study of cool roofs in China and concluded that they would be an effective way to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers ran simulations on residential and commercial buildings in seven cities in five climate zones, and found that light colored roofs  Read More…

New Cool Roofs Project Takes Off in Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea launches a new cool roofs initiative with a campaign to help people paint their roofs white, and plans to expand the program next year: The Seoul city government will soon come up with plans to expand the initiative in stages.  For example, it will begin with pilot projects in a select number  Read More…

Study Links Climate Change to Hotter Urban Heat Islands

Cities are hot and getting hotter, thanks to global warming and the urban heat island effect.  With urbanization on the rise globally, extreme heat threatens human health, strains energy grids, and impacts global economies around the world. Extreme heat is now ranked as the number one weather-related killer in the United States.  With over eighty  Read More…

U.S. Dept. of Energy Releases New Video on Cool Roofs

The U.S. Department of Energy just came out with this handy 2 minute video. It explains how the urban heat island effect works, and shows how cool roofs are a simple and economical way to cool things down in your city on a hot day. This edition of Energy 101 takes a look at how  Read More…

And the Heat Goes on – Another Deadly Heat Wave Hits Japan

Barely a year after extreme heat killed 17 and sent more than 9,800 people to the hospital, Japan has been hit with another heat wave.  This most recent extreme heat event killed 11 and sent 1,900 to hospitals, and broke heat records in 14 Japanese cities. Other cities around the world have also been hit  Read More…

Catch GGCA’s Own Kurt Shickman on WAMU’s Metro Connection

Johnathan Wilson, environmental reporter for WAMU (a public radio station in Washington, DC) recently spoke with GCCA Executive Director, Kurt Shickman about the dangers of rising urban temperatures.  Kurt explained how reflective surfaces and increased vegetation help save lives in extreme heat events. “We’ve found that on the average heat wave that lasts about four  Read More…

Cities Now Contain Over Half the World’s Population

Hot summer days can often be sticky and miserable in an urban heat island.  Dark surfaces, lack of shade trees and climate-driven heat events mean higher summer temperatures and prolonged heat waves.  Add to that the growing population in many of the world’s mega-cities, and winter weather is looking better and better! The United Nations  Read More…

June Temperatures Set New Records

Many of you might have seen reports that May was another record-setting month for world temperatures.  Well NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDA) has just released their data for June, 2014, and it’s the latest evidence that climate change means climbing temperatures.  According to theirGlobal Analysis report: June 2014 also marks the second consecutive month  Read More…

Adapting to a Changing World

Our changing climate is impacting our lives.  From extreme heat to more severe storms, from droughts, famine and epidemics to wildfires and floods, we’re quickly learning that if we don’t mitigate and adapt, we’ll continue to pay the price. According to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization, from 1970 to 2012, 8,835 disasters,  Read More…

Projections of Increased Urban Heat May Have Been Underestimated

They say that location is everything in real estate, and when it comes to measuring urban heat, where you collect your data will have an impact on the accuracy of your results. A new study out of London illustrates just how important it is to take certain variables into account if you want to get  Read More…

Cool Roofs Studies are in the News

New reports from GCCA & ACEEE, and the Georgia Institute of Technology find that many cities are developing strategies to reduce excess urban heat, and that states, neighboring jurisdictions, utilities, and building owners are helping to mainstream these practices. The first study comes from the Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA), and the American Council for  Read More…

Cool Surfaces News Roundup: July 2014

Each quarter, the Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA) compiles the media covering cool roofs, cool pavements, and a wide range of urban heat island-related issues in a report we callCool Retrospective.  In this issue, we take a look back at the first half of 2014. So far this year, a number of cities and countries  Read More…

Cities Taking On Extreme Heat Down Under

Research commissioned by the City of Melbourne as part of its Climate Change Adaptation Strategy found that a January heat wave cost local businesses approximately $37 million.  City administrators know that with the increased frequency and intensity of heatwaves, they need to understand of the economic impacts of such events on businesses.  From theCity of  Read More…

Extreme Heat Triggers Power and Water Cuts in Northern India

A record-breaking heat wave hit northern India in June as temperatures reached 120 degrees.  The power authority couldn’t meet the increased energy demand which has led to power and water cuts throughout the region. Protesters took to the streets over the lack of basic services and attacked power sub stations, taking several workers hostage, and many  Read More…

IPCC Report: Cool Roofs Help Reduce Urban Heat

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change brought together 235 authors from 58 nations to map out strategies for mitigating the impact of climate change.  The buildings section of their report notes that sixty percent of urban surfaces are covered by pavement or rooftops, and that cool roofs can help reduce energy demand, lower temperatures within  Read More…

Cool Pavements Explained in 2 Minutes

Dark surfaces absorb sunlight and heat. Reflective surfaces help bounce heat away from our cities. What works with roofs works with roads and parking lots. Lawrence Berkeley Lab and UC Davis researchers explain how cool pavements work to cool our cities and improve the health of the people living in urban areas.  Take a look.  Read More…

Senator Ben Cardin Introduces Cool Roofs Bill in the Senate!

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin recently introduced a bi-partisan bill that is sure to help bring down urban heat and create new jobs nationwide.  The Energy-Efficient Cool Roofs Act (S. 2388) was introduced on May 22, 2014 and has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, of which Senator Cardin is a member.   From Senator Cardin’s  Read More…

Growing the Market for Energy Efficiency in South Africa

U.S. Department of Energy Launches Effort to Grow the Market for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in South Africa WASHINGTON, D.C— The Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) launched a new initiative to grow a robust market for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in South Africa.  The initiative is  Read More…

GSEP Helps Mexico Identify Energy and Emission Savings from Cool Roofs

A national study involving 7 major cities covering each of Mexico’s 6 climate zones, found that cool roofs could help commercial and residential buildings reduce energy consumption by 7 to 18 percent.  The study also found that if cool roof technology were used in just three of the cities studied, it could result in the  Read More…

New GSEP Pilot Project to Cool Roofs in Jasdan India

Our cities are heating up just as incomes are rising and the cost of air conditioning units are dropping around the world.  This creates a vicious cycle that drives up energy demand, puts a strain on our infrastructure and pumps more carbon into our atmosphere.  It’s little wonder that cities are looking for cleaner, cooler,  Read More…

Rising Urban Temperatures and Air Conditioners

Look at any urban street under the blazing hot July sun, and you’ll think of high daytime temperatures and unbearable heat.  It’s a vicious circle.  As summer approaches and temperatures rise, we crank up the AC to stay cool indoors.  Our air conditioner pumps out heat exhaust, which adds to the urban heat island effect  Read More…

White Roofs Seen as Part of the Solution

Many people head for the thermostat to cool things down indoors when it gets hot outside.  The problem is, running our air conditioner only makes the problem worse by adding to the strain on an already overworked energy grid, and increasing the amount of carbon in the air.  This is especially true during extreme heat  Read More…

Cool Surfaces and Social Justice

Heat kills more than 1,500 people in the U.S. each year – more than any type of other natural disaster.  In many cities around the world, it’s not uncommon to find that people in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods are often the most vulnerable to heat. New research highlights just how vulnerable poor and minority communities  Read More…

Extreme Heat Hits Northern Cities Too

Several recent reports have shed light on the many ways climate change is affecting our way of life, and these reports have people talking about strategies for dealing with extreme heat and the resulting health problems.  We expect extreme heat events down in Atlanta, GA or Los Angeles, CA.  But we’re also hearing of concerns  Read More…

Hot Town – Summer in the (Twin) Cities

Climate change and the urban heat island effect are heating things up in cities around the world.  That’s not surprising in places like Los Angeles and Atlanta, but they’re finding it too hot to handle in northern cities as well. Researchers are collecting data on urban temperatures in Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota (Twin Cities),  Read More…

GCCA Releases Cool Surfaces Retrospective 2013

Periodically, the Global Cool Cities Alliance will highlight trending topics covering a wide range of urban heat island-related issues in a feature we call Cool Retrospective.  For our inaugural issue, we review cool developments in 2013. 2013 saw a number of cities make huge strides to mitigate the impacts of excess urban heat by adopting  Read More…

It’s Unanimous – Los Angeles is a Cool City

The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously approved an update to the city building code, making LA the first major city to require the installation of cool roofs on all new and refurbished homes.  LA already requires cool roofs on commercial properties, but this latest update to the code puts the city out ahead of  Read More…

UK Study Predicts 257% Jump in Heat-Related Deaths by 2050

A study recently released in London by Public Health England (PHE) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine predicts that heat-related deaths in the United Kingdom will increase by 257% by 2050, as a result of climate change. Learn more about the study HERE.

Megacity Mayors Double Climate Action

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), a partner of the Global Cool Cities Alliance, has just released a report on the efforts of member cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The report updates a 2011 report, and shows that the mayors of 63 of the world’s largest cities have taken nearly 8,000 actions to  Read More…

Cool Roofs Featured in Energy and Buildings

A new study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory compared green roofs and white roofs, and scientists found that a white roof reflects 3 times the amount of sunshine as a green rooftop garden. They also found that white roofs are more economical to install and maintain. You can read more about it in this  Read More…

Cool Roofs Cooling Philadelphia

Dr. Katie Hunt was recently interviewed about her work in sustainability and cool roofs by the Wisconsin Job Network.  You can listen to the interview here: http://t.co/JOJniBTqFQ