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Painting the town green, one white step at a time

Photo Credit: Carina Nieves A Building and Grounds employee and ConEd representative take part in coating the roof of King Hall
Photo Credit: Carina Nieves
A Building and Grounds employee and ConEd representative take part in coating the roof of King Hall

Dozens of Queens College students gathered outside of King Hall on June 26, to transform the roof into an energy efficient, white roof building.

QC participated in the New York City Cool Roofs campaign, which aims to improve NYC rooftops by applying a reflective surface to the roof. This “helps reduce cooling costs, cut energy usage and lower greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the Cool Roofs website.

“I think it is hard work being up there for several hours painting a roof,” said Carina Nieves, a 2012 QC graduate. “But it is going to be good for the college; for their sustainability plans.”

The college partnered with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plaNYC initiative, volunteer group NYC Service and Con Edison to coat the roof with white paint containing polymers. This was the second roof painted at QC. The project launched with Kiely Hall on June 7.

“The coating material lowers the roof’s temperature by reflecting sunlight but also the [usually] absorbed heat,” said Grace Magee, senior and president of the Environmental Club.

A part of QC’s 10 Year Sustainability Plan, this project is one of many that the college has set up to build a “green” campus. The goal is to reduce 30 percent of the campus’ greenhouse gas emission by 2017 through renovation and conservation.

Student volunteers were joined on the roof by QC buildings and grounds employees, as well as Con Edison workers.

Sony Pictures sponsored the King Hall coating and even brought along a man dressed as Spider-Man, said to be the stunt man from the upcoming film, to help paint the roof, pose for pictures and promote the July 3 release of “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

Due to the costly nature of the project, corporate sponsors will often attach themselves to certain projects, according to Ashley Gambone, an NYC Service fellow.

Kicking off the third season of Cool Roofs was the June 7 coating of Kiely Hall, which Gambone also participated in.

“This work is a lot of fun and it’s so great to be involved in sustainability from the very beginning,” Gambone said.

By providing a cost effective and long-term success rate, projects like this are encouraged on campus. Magee hopes others notice this as well.

“The only way to turn our long time wasteful habits around is by trying something new and measurable. It is not the same as saying ‘go green.’ This is a slogan. It means nothing,” Magee said. “Cool Roofs is an excellent kick starter to create solid action. Only action will produce results.”

However, the key to providing such sustainability projects on campus are volunteers.

“I think it’s great that QC is making strides to become sustainable, but they should really outreach to the students by making a Facebook page to get the word out since our generation is mostly online,” Nieves said.

Students will have more opportunities to experience white roof coating as there are 15 other roofs that need to be painted; up next is the student union. The college is looking to have a welcome back party and coating in one shot early this fall.

“With any project you have to make it fun. Bring your friends. We’ll finish faster and you can enjoy yourself more,” Magee said. “White roofing to me is the quintessential project for the term ‘think global, act local.’ Our school is a great place to make changes. We are here all of the time. So are the staff, faculty and buildings. Why not use what we have right here to lower our carbon output?”

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