Hot, humid, congested and sunburned. Sitting on the 7th floor of a New York City
building with large, open windows as I type, I'm in a complimentary tanning salon and yet I can't help but wish that I was in the desolate, forlorn spaces of Antarctica
. I've always liked the cold and I don't appreciate feeling like a sweaty Olympic athlete minus the supernatural basketball skills.
But that's what I get for being on a black roof building where even in an indoor setting with air conditioning I wish that I was on the beaches of Montauk. Then again, its not our fault that New York City
and various other densely populated cities suffer from the Urban Heat Island Effect phenomenon
. This effect states that surfaces in cities such as roofs and pavement have a tendency to heat up 50–90°F higher than that of surrounding suburban areas.
Therefore, since it's primarily the surfaces that heat up, I wouldn't mind being in a different building in New York City, preferably one with a stunning green roof just like the one you see below.
Many sources cite that alterations in building designs such as green roofs can help mitigate the detrimental urban heat island effect. Specifically, a typical New York City
rooftop is a flat, heat-absorbing platform with vegetation and plants that can combat climate change, the urban heat island effect, and storm water runoff pollution. Storm water runoff pollution occurs when rainwater flows over the ground and picks up harmful chemicals and dirt. Plants have a significant effect on climate because foliage protects the building from winds, solar radiation, and can reduce the temperature in the indoor environment. Lowering air temperatures can contribute to reduced energy costs and atmospheric pollution. Green roofs integrate natural cooling and water retention properties and provide an aesthetically pleasing exterior.
In general, green roofs = attractive park-like environments + going green and saving energy (without going crazy!) + reducing air pollution. What more can you want? That's why even Toronto became the first North American city
to implement a policy in which all new developments require green roofs. Also, recently, the United States Postal Service just launched New York City's largest green roof
This summer I will be investigating the cooling effect of green roofs on the interior of buildings and overall urban heat island effect studies. In my next report, I will go more in depth on the experiments that I am doing with my team at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies this summer. Until then, stay cool and love nature!
Photo: Columbia University building