France has recently introduced an environmental law which makes it obligatory for new buildings in commercial zones to have their rooftops partially covered with either plants or solar panels.
Despite the fact that the primary goal of French environmental activists was to pass a law that would require making the entire surface of new roofs ‘green’, the potential benefits of commercial buildings with partially covered roofs are still very promising. The French government wanted to avoid approving a law that would impose too many additional costs on businesses, which could possibly have negative effects on the economy.
“This draft law is a very positive step forward and a concrete lever for greener and smarter cities,” James Watson, CEO of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, told CBSNews. “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.”
The application of this environmental law will help significantly reduce energy costs. The main reason for this is the isolating effect of green roofs, which results in the fact that buildings need less heat during the winter and less air-conditioning in the summer. Some other advantages of green roofs include the ability to retain rainwater and prevent the water runoff, as well as providing shelter for birds in urban surroundings. There is also some evidence that green roofs contribute to reducing the effects of so-called urban heat island, which is associated with the increased temperatures in metropolitan areas in summer.
As for solar panels, it’s needless to say that with more buildings powered by renewable energy, it will be possible to mitigate negative environmental consequences of conventional electricity production. Moreover, solar panels have a similar isolating effect as the green roofs.
In a long-term perspective, not only will this law help solve some environmental issues and make a wider use of renewables, but it will also prove beneficial for building owners themselves, since they will be saving on the electricity bills.
It’s very inspiring to see the increasing number of countries that are becoming aware of the importance of environmental sustainability and favor the use of clean energy and environment-friendly initiatives. Some other examples of such countries are Germany and Australia, where green roofs have already become popular, or Norway, which recently started constructing the world’s first ‘bee highway’ to help save the endangered bees. Let’s hope that this trend will continue and we will soon see other countries adopt similar environmental laws and facilitate green projects.
Image source: Wikipedia