Washington, DC Smart Roof Cost-Benefit Report

Project Description

The Smart Roof Project, funded by the District of Columbia Department of General Services (DGS), addresses a large opportunity for Washington, DC to achieve its aspirations to become the greenest, healthiest, most equitable city in the US: how it uses the roofs of city owned buildings. The last decade has seen the emergence of a range of rooftop technologies that provide important health, energy, water, and environmental benefits. These technologies include: cool roofs; green roofs; and rooftop PV. Impacts from the deployment of these technologies on District owned buildings, regions of a city, or city-wide could be transformative for quality of life, sharply cut energy bills, improve the quality of local waterbodies, and help slow climate change cost-effectively.

In the report below, we present a rigorous and relatively comprehensive estimate of the costs and benefits of applying these technologies on District owned buildings in Washington, DC. The report demonstrates that, in general, cool roofs, green roofs, and rooftop solar PV are cost-effective retrofit options and that these technologies bring both substantial benefits to building owners as well as broader benefits to the community. Based on these findings, virtually all DGS roofs should have one or several of these technologies. Put differently, conventional dark roofs represent a substantial policy failure, with large costs to Washington, DC.

The report presents the first rigorous and comprehensive methodology to estimate the costs and benefits of cool roofs, green roofs, and rooftop PV. Its creation has involved a range of leading health and policy advisors and the development of a multi-level health and benefits valuation model to quantify the full set of costs and benefits of these technologies. The establishment of this model provides a powerful new platform to address and understand larger city design opportunities. The findings of our report strongly suggest that a city-wide strategy of adoption of these technologies would have private and public benefits on the order of billions of dollars, including providing energy savings for building owners, reducing city peak summer temperatures, improving livability, and providing a large public health benefit.

Project Summary Deck
Project Report

If after reading the Report you are interested in reading the Appendix (which is not as well written!), please email us at smartroofs@cap-e.com.

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“Green roofs can be good for people, too” – Robert Ivy, AIA CEO (a Washington Post editorial)