Atlanta Is A Scorching Heat Island, But Can Green Roofs Help?

Sourced from Curbed Atlanta

It’s midsummer, which means that perennial, suffocating, climatological sauna has befallen Atlanta.

Like most urban places, Atlanta’s status as a heat island is hardly surprising, what with all the heat-capturing concrete and carbon emissions, which spell hotter summer temps intown (2.4 degrees in the daytime, about 4 degrees at night) than surrounding rural areas.

What’s more surprising: The ATL’s heat-island problem is actually getting better.

That’s the word from Bill Lomel, Sentry Roof Services president, whose company has worked with Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and other major clients to implement green-roof practices that include reflective roof materials and energy-effecient insulation.

The result, per Lomel, is that Atlanta’s heat island footprint has been dramatically reduced in the past decade, as buildings implementing “cool roofs” throughout town are saving up to 20 percent in energy costs. Meanwhile, the tops of such buildings are more than a third cooler than standard roofs, which can reach July temperatures of a blazing 150 degrees.

Atlanta leaders have recently gotten serious about powering the whole city with nothing but sustainable energy by 2035, and Lomel points to anecdotal success stories where the cooler, green-roof trend is catching on: NCR’s new global headquarters in Midtown, the High Museum, Georgia World Congress Center, SPANX headquarters in Buckhead, Ponce City Market, and Atlanta City Hall, where Lomel says a vegetative roof has slashed energy usage by 25 percent since 2008.

That’s the good news (although this town, obviously, still boils). But what might the future hold?

We caught up with Lomel and Stella Mathews, Atlantic Star Design landscape architect, for an email Q&A on the subject:

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