Co-authored by Prima Madan
The city of Ahmedabad, like the state of Telangana, is scaling up to a city-wide cool roof program this year. Recognizing the need to keep cool, the drive from the India Cooling Action Plan, and the benefits of cool roofs, Ahmedabad is holding a stakeholder meeting this week to further develop the new program.
Ahmedabad Cool Roof Program
The city of Ahmedabad, a growing economic center of the state of Gujarat, is home to 7.2 million people. After a devastating heat wave hit the city in 2010, experts estimated that heat contributed to more than 1,000 deaths. Now, city leadership in Ahmedabad is working to protect local communities from rising temperatures and the deadly threat of extreme heat. The city of Ahmedabad and partners released the ground-breaking Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan that is a model to the 19 states and over 100 districts working on similar life-saving plans.
With rising populations and a fast-expanding built-up area, the city is facing challenges of urbanization and growing manifestations of urban heat island effect. To tackle these challenges, the city is developing and looking to implement a city-wide cool roof program, aiming to make Ahmedabad a “Cool City”.
This month, city leaders and civil society partners will convene local groups to discuss the draft program as part of its Annual Heat Action Plan Update workshop for city officials, organized by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC).
The city-wide program advances the initiative unveiled in 2017, when the AMC introduced a pilot cool roofs program for over 3,000 low income homes as part of the city’s Heat Action Plan.
Since 2017, the AMC, alongside partners NRDC, Indian Institute of Public Health- Gandhinagar (IIPH-G) and Mahila Housing Trust (MHT) and others have included a cool roofs initiative as part of the Ahmedabad Heat Action Plan for protecting communities from extreme heat. Ahmedabad’s initiative builds on extensive work by MHT, which has installed over 100 cool roofs in low income communities in Ahmedabad, using a technology called ModRoof—roofs made of coconut husk and paper waste—as ecofriendly, cooling alternatives to traditional tin and asbestos roofs.
The Ahmedabad pilot was implemented by city staff, over 50 volunteer students from local colleges and local civil society organizations. The pilot included a focus on community awareness through pamphlets, hoardings and communication material on cool roofs to increase local knowledge on what cool roofs are, how they can help keep indoor temperatures lower, and what materials can be used to convert to a cool roof. In Ahmedabad, locally-available sunlight-reflective white lime paint that costs ₹0.50 (~$0.07) per square foot was used for a total program cost of ₹700,000 ($10,450) for 2017. The pilot also engaged 20-25 local real estate developers to implement cool roofs on private buildings in Ahmedabad on a voluntary basis in 2018.
Building on the findings of the pilot, the Ahmedabad Cool City Program, if implemented city-wide, will go a long way in making the city cooler and protecting the most vulnerable from deadly impacts of heatwaves.
While the increasing cooling demand is a growing challenge in many cities across India, the building sector provides clear opportunities to address this with cost-effective, smart, and affordable solutions such as cool roofs. City and state wide cool-roof programs work to decrease the demand for cooling while also providing comfort. Similarly, green ACs and building energy efficiency are smart solutions for cities that provide a key opportunity to reduce demand and generate energy savings that translate directly to financial savings.
These actions together will build a smart, sustainable and affordable cooling future for cities in India.
Prima Madan leads NRDC's India cool roofs work based in New Delhi.