Applying for a zoning permit? You might be required to consider cool roofs, green roofs, and solar panels — and explain your thought process in your application.  An explanation is required for projects that:

  • Have a parapet or flat roof
  • Have a use other than a 1-, 2-, or 3-Unit Dwelling?
  • Have a use other than a Retail or Service that uses less than 10,000 square feet ?

Your explanation may be simple, like a statement that you received price quotes from your roofing contractors.


Cool Roof: A roof that reflects more sunlight and absorbs less heat than a standard roof; it requires a highly reflective material that can be a type of paint, sheet covering, tile, or shingle.

Green Roof: The area on roof that is open to the sky and is surfaced with soil and living plants in order to retain rainwater and absorb heat from sunlight.

Solar Panels are mechanical devices that convert sunlight into electricity. They can be easily mounted on flat roofs.


Cool roofs are simple and affordable to install. They offer high energy savings with a short payback period. In addition, they reduce the Heat Island Effect and also produce fewer emissions.

Green roofs provide similar advantages in that they reduce the Heat Island Effect, offer significant energy savings, and improve air quality. They also increase the life expectancy of the roof, improve water quality, manage stormwater, and provide public green space.

Solar panels produce energy, reducing dependence on traditional fuel sources. This reduces emissions, improving air quality and increasing the resiliency of our energy systems. Financing and incentive programs are also offered from various sources such as the Connecticut Green Bank.


Hartford’s trying its best to become a more sustainable city (see our Climate Action Plan), and other cities are working to become more sustainable as well. Check out San Francisco’s and NYC’s programs:

NYC Cool Roofs
– Over 5.7 million sf of cool rooftop since 2009
– 10-30% reduction of cooling costs

San Francisco’s Revolutionary New Building Code
– San Francisco is the first U.S. city to require solar and living roofs on most new construction. Now, most new construction will be required to dedicate 15-30% of rooftop space to solar or living roofs.


For an easy-to-print format of this information, check out our draft Cool, Green, Solar Roof Fact Sheet


Sources: DOE; EPA; NRELNYC Cool Roofs; San Francisco