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A new plan aims to literally cool down NYC during the summer

By Clayton Guse

New York can be a terribly hot place during the summer, and finding spots to cool off can be pretty damn difficult. Rooftop pools are tricky to gain access to, and finding an apartment with central air-conditioning is like finding a unicorn

NYC's heat isn't expected to get any better in the coming decades—the New York City Panel on Climate Change projects that the average temperature in the city will increase by up to 5.7 degrees by the 2050s and the number of 90-degree days each year will double. But good ol' Mayor Bill de Blasio is aiming to bring that warming to a halt, one neighborhood at a time.

On Wednesday, his office announced a new initiative dubbed Cool Neighborhoods NYC. The $106 million program won't make the city more hip—as the name might suggest—but it will work to reduce the effects of climate change and summer heat waves on communities across town. 

The plan has a few facets, including expanding the NYC °CoolRoofs program, which subsidizes and supports the installation of energy-saving reflective rooftops. These rooftops reduce the amount of heat that's transmitted onto a building's exterior and, in turn, lowers the cost of air-conditioning for tenants inside. 

On top of that, $82 million will be put toward planting trees in neighborhoods across the South Bronx, Northern Manhattan and Central Brooklyn, which have been deemed "disproportionately vulnerable to heat-health risks." More trees will not only improve air quality in these areas but also cool the pavement below by providing shade. 

The plan will also help qualified households pay for high bills that may come from blasting a window unit throughout the summer and provide funding and training for home health aides who will help service New Yorkers whose health may be at risk during heat waves.

De Blasio's plan won't stop the climate change, but it will take steps toward making the city a less miserable place during the summer—let's hope it actually pans out. 


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