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Queens Chronicle

Nonprofit helps cool Astoria church

White Roof Project paints Trinity Lutheran top, looks for next spot

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Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:03 am, Thu Jun 20, 2013.

Last Wednesday Astoria got a little cooler.

The White Roof Project, a nonprofit that paints flat tar roofs white to combat global warming, transformed its first Queens location — Trinity Lutheran Church on the corner of 37th Street and 31st Avenue in Astoria.

A church employee read an article about how the White Roof Project was looking for an Astoria nonprofit or affordable housing development to paint. The church quickly contacted the group and plans were made from there.

“It was easy,” said Pastor Paul Milholland. “We were honored to be a part of the project. It’s good for the environment and helps with our bottom line.”

“White roofing is a cost-effective, tangible solution that allows communities to start making change around these critical issues,” said Rachel Laiserin, executive director of the White Roof Project.

Trinity Lutheran over the years has planted trees, and raspberry and snap pea bushes to help beautify and add more greenery to its neighborhood. The institution also plans to organize a group trash cleanup in the months to come.

The church wanted to paint its school roof as well, but the pebbly surface disqualified it.

“With temperatures and energy costs both rising, white roofing is a simple way for people to save some green while being green,” said Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), who helped paint the church roof.

Vallone added that the use of solar-reflective paint, which is sponsored by USPowerGen and Great White Coatings, is one way to prevent blackouts like the one the neighborhood suffered in 2006.

The project is actively seeking more spots to paint, according to White Roof Project board member Heather James.

According to the project, a roof covered with solar-reflective white paint reflects up to 90 percent of sunlight while a black roof reflects a mere 20 percent. On a 90-degree day, a black roof can heat up to 180 degrees while a white roof stays at about 100 degrees, reducing cooling costs by about 40 percent.

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