Cool Roofs, funded by a $100,000 Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund grant, engages volunteers to reduce the City’s carbon footprint by applying a white reflective paint to selected City-owned building rooftops.
It has been proven that dark-colored roofs absorb and retain the heat emitted from the sunlight and direct sun rays. This excessive heat absorption can increase the temperature of roofs and ultimately raise energy costs; additionally, it can augment the urban heat island effect, raising the temperature of urban spaces up to 16 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding regional areas.
In 2008, the greenhouse gas emissions in the City of Pittsburgh totaled 6.70 million tons of CO2e. The City recognized the potential hazards which can accompany CO2e emissions of this magnitude, and Mayor Ravenstahl made it a priority to reduce these emissions. Starting this June 2013, Cool Roofs volunteers will coat 50,000 square feet of rooftops with a special white coating and decrease CO2e emissions by 45 metric tons!
About Cities of Service and servePGH
Founded in New York City in September 2009, Cities of Service supports mayors who leverage citizen service strategies, addressing local needs and making government more effective. The coalition and its member cities respond to the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act's historic call to action by finding new and innovative ways to harness the power of volunteers to help solve pressing local challenges.
By obtaining a Cities of Service grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Rockefeller Foundation, Mayor Ravenstahl launched servePGH in March 2011 to engage Pittsburgh’s citizens in service and to answer President Obama’s national call to volunteerism. Through new and innovative servePGH initiatives, the Mayor has engaged citizens in volunteer-fueled solutions to revitalize close to over 600 City blocks, restore vulnerable residents’ homes, help middle-school youth navigate life’s challenges, clean up over 35,000 pounds of litter, and more. To date, over 3,700 volunteers have committed over 32,000 hours of service through servePGH.
Office of Sustainability and Energy Efficiency
In October 2008, Mayor Ravenstahl hired the City's first-ever Sustainability Coordinator and created the Office of Sustainability and Energy Efficiency to provide guidance on greening the City's operations and facilities.
The Sustainability Coordinator is tasked with implementing the municipal recommendations of the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan, adopted in August 2008, as well as collaborating with individuals from all departments to strengthen existing environmental initiatives and ensure that sustainability is integrated into all City operations.
Since its creation, the office has led initiatives to reduce energy use in City-owned buildings, utilize solar energy in City operations and involve citizens through activities like recycling and tree planting.