Rooftops in France are going green! The French government recently passed a new law to mandate all new buildings that are built in commercial zones to cover their roofs partially with green plants or solar panels.
Green roofs, as they are called, add natural beauty and a certain aesthetic to buildings, while also have an insulating effect that helps to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building during the winter or cool it in the summer. They complement storm water management activities and do a great job of capturing airborne pollutants.
The law approved by parliament recently was more limited in scope than French environmental activists had initially hoped for. Activists had sought to make green roofs that cover the entire surface mandatory on all new buildings. The law gives some buildings the choice to install solar panels and generate electricity instead. But many green activists happily concede that partially-covered roofs make for a great start, and are still a huge step in the right direction.
"This draft law is a very positive step forward and a concrete lever for greener and smarter cities...there are so many unused rooftops in our cities today and solar photovoltaics is the perfect solution to make the best out of them as it can be seamlessly integrated in an urban setting."said James Watson, CEO of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association.
Similar greening laws and regulations had been passed in other cities. Green roofs are popular in Germany and Australia, while the Canadian city Toronto also adopted a by-law in 2009 mandating them on industrial and residential buildings. This is not the first time that France has dived into green roof technology and tradition: the largest green roof covers a football stadium-sized shopping centre in Paris that opened in 2013.