Marissa Munoz is painting the town white to keep the city green.
Her eco-friendly initiative, NYC CoolRoofs, paints roofs white, reflecting the sun off the tops of buildings and repelling excess heat. While a few coats of white paint might seem trivial in the intense fight against global warming, Munoz’s project is estimated to help residents in painted places cut their electric bill by up to 30 percent.
“By coating roofs white we are saving buildings, building owners and tenants,” said Munoz. “It inspires me to know that I can play a small role impacting someone’s life on a daily basis.”
Munoz, 35, grew up in Floresville, Texas. She studied environmental studies at the University of Texas in Austin and attended Columbia University’s graduate program. Now living in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, she started working for CoolRoofs in March 2012.
While the seasonal painting program – running from March through October – is a passion for Munoz, she says the job is not without its hardships.
“It is not easy to be out there, it feels like over 100 degrees on a black asphalt roof,” she said.
Munoz works as the program manager, along with an energized four-member team, in an office near the Community Environmental Center in Long Island City. During the day, she schedules buildings ready to be painted, organizes the work force and coordinates the staff to run fundraisers and raise awareness. She remains constantly in contact with various city agencies, reporting data and the progress of the initiative.
Ironically, while Munoz is interested in painting her apartment building’s rooftop white, limited access has inhibited her reaching the structure’s top deck.
The white-paint plot is a part of the Mayor’s NYC Plan, which hopes to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030 by particularly combating the urban heat island effect, which causes urban areas to retain roughly five degrees more heat than rural areas or suburbs.
NYC CoolRoofs has coated 2.5 million-square-feet of rooftop across 288 buildings citywide and garnered over 3,000 volunteers, working to make New York greener.
If you want to get involved or are a resident, interested in painting your own roof, visit CoolRoof’s website at nyc.gov/coolroofs.