France has passed a law that will require all new commercial buildings to be equipped with either green roofs or solar panels, according to The Guardian. The law states that any new building constructed in a commercial space must be covered halfway with either greenery or solar panelsbusinesses can decide which option to choose.
The benefits of green roofs
Green roofs are a solution to many urban and environmental problems and are popular among environmental activists and green-minded city planners alike. Covering a building with plant life insulates the structure, making it more energy efficient. In fact, green roofs can reduce the amount of air conditioning necessary to cool a building by up to 75 percent, according to Greenroofs.org.
Thats not all that these sky-high landscapes can do for cities. Like all plant life, these oases of greenery absorb carbon and keep the air cool, helping to mitigate the Heat Island Effect: a phenomenon that makes urban areas significantly warmer than suburban and rural communities because of human activities. Green roofs also provide sanctuary for birds, bees and other species that need spaces to call home in crowded, dense cities.
Green roof laws: An international trend
France isnt the first country to enact legislation encouraging rooftop greenery. Cities such as Tokyo, Toronto, Zurich and Copenhagen also require new buildings to have some or all of their roofs covered in plants. So far, U.S. cities have opted for tax breaks rather than legislation to address the issue.
Offering incentives such as tax breaks is better than making someone do something, Bradley Rowe of the MSU Green Roof Research Program told Yes Magazine in an interview last year. Building owners forced to put on a green roof may cut corners.
Solar panels as an alternative
Of course, French businesses arent being forced to cover half of their roofs in greenerythey can opt for solar panels instead. Solar panel use has grown rapidly in France, with 2014 figures showing 5,300 MW of solar energy production annually. Its a number that continues to rise as the country shifts toward more sustainable energy policies.
The green roof and solar panel legislation is expected to be a step in the right direction. Though activists had initially wanted mandatory green roof laws for every new building, government officials convinced them to accept the law as it currently stands. The next time you visit France, you may notice a little more plant life on the rooftops!
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.
France Will Require Green Roofs and Solar Panels on New Buildings