White Roof Project spent the first full day of fall coating a rooftop with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 94. We all went down to Alphabet City on the Lower East Side where WRP has been working with residents and community partners to create a more sustainable environment, including a cluster of white roofs.

White Roof Project works to mitigate the Urban Heat Island effect – the super heating of cities in the summer due to a proliferation of dark surfaces like roofs and roads. Manhattan’s Lower East Side is especially hot (see this NYSERDA report) and has been identified by Con Edison as one of the highest per capita energy users in New York. Local 94 was eager to get involved and start giving rooftops a shiny new coat of white. As the maintainers of our city’s heating and air conditioning systems, they’ve been thinking about sustainability and operating efficiency for more than 50 years.

Local 94 volunteers got to the project site before we’d even arrived with coffee! They were ready to go, so we went right up to the roof to get started. The team coated the roof of a nonprofit, low-income residential building on East 8th Street. The building’s residents have been fighting to stay in their neighborhood since the 1970′s. Local 94′s work will help the self-maintained property keep its roof in good condition for the next 10 years.

Cutting the Roof

Local 94 in paint

painting the roof

The Local 94 team was the fastest volunteer group we’ve worked with in three summers of roof painting. White Roof Project Founder Juan Carlos P.E. couldn’t believe their efficiency. His report after an hour of painting – ‘they’re almost done!’ A project that usually takes five hours was completed in under two. When I commented on their speed team member Raymond Macco told me simply, ‘well you have to remember, this is what we do’.

Local 94′s team was so quick to complete the project that they volunteered to improve the whole building’s sustainability, not just coat the roof. They also finished a basement materials recycling project and helped trim vines that were creeping up to the roof drainage system.


When the work was done, Councilwoman Rosie Mendez stopped by to say hello to Local 94 and check out the newest white roof building in her neighborhood. She agreed that it was time to find additional buildings for the Local 94 team to paint; and we’ll be identifying a bigger project for next year. Thank you Local 94 for a fun fall day with your crew and another rooftop well done!

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