Global Cool Cities Alliance
The Department of Energy (DOE) is currently supporting the Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA), a non-profit organization that works with cities, regions, and national governments to speed the worldwide installation of cool roofs, pavements, and other surfaces. GCCA is dedicated to advancing policies and actions that increase the solar reflectance of our buildings and pavements as a cost-effective way to promote cool buildings, cool cities, and to mitigate the effects of climate change through global cooling. The alliance was launched in June of 2011.
Cool reflective surfaces are an important near-term strategy for improving city sustainability by delivering significant benefits such as increased building efficiency and comfort, improved urban health, and heat resiliency, and offsets to some of the warming effect of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, no global group was focused on supporting the rapid implementation of urban heat island mitigation strategies to capture these benefits.
GCCA facilitates the sharing of best practices, research, and experiences in implementing urban heat island mitigation strategies amongst cities. GCCA connects policy makers and program managers to technical, implementation, academic, and other resources to support the development and deployment of cool surfaces policies and programs.
This project is being undertaken between the Department of Energy and GCCA city partners—New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Taipei, and Singapore—as well as with existing networks of cities and regional governments such as C40 Climate Leadership Group and R20: Regions of Climate Action.
The goal of the GCCA is to increase the solar reflectance of buildings and pavements worldwide in order to reduce cooling demands and thus save energy. The alliance works to promote policies and technologies that can achieve such results.
Benefits and Impacts
Reflective surfaces reduce electricity demand for space cooling in conditioned buildings and can improve the thermal comfort of unconditioned buildings. Retrofitting 80% of the 2.6 billion square meters of commercial building roof area in the United States would yield net annual energy savings of $735 million, according to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Deployed at an urban scale, reflective surfaces can reduce temperatures and thus improve air quality and resiliency to extreme heat events. Research indicates that the cooling effect of increasing the reflectivity of the planet by 10% by transitioning to white roofs could cancel the warming effect of 24 gigatons of carbon dioxide—the equivalent of 500 medium-sized coal power plants.
- Cool Roofs and Pavements Toolkit
- C40 Climate Leadership Group
- R20: Regions of Climate Action
- Clean Energy Solutions Center