New Roofs in France Must Be Green
Environmentalism is fast becoming a top concern in France – a rooftop concern, to be precise. Excitingly, the nation has just passed new legislation that will require all upcoming commercial construction projects to feature either green roofs or solar panels above their top floors.
By now, most people are at least passingly familiar with the benefits of solar panels, but green roofs remain unknown to the general public. A green roof is one that is covered in lush plant life, and the perks extend well beyond the aesthetic. Because green roofs help to insulate, buildings are able to slash seasonal energy costs for both heating and air conditioning by approximately 25 percent.
That alone should be incentive for buildings to add a “plantscape” to their roofs, but the advantages don’t end there. Green roofs also help to reduce water runoff during rainstorms, combat air pollution, provide food for the buildings’ residents, and even make a good home for birds that are normally displaced by urban development. For more details on the green roof phenomenon, check out Care2’s previous coverage.
To get the law to pass through parliament, environmentalists had to make some significant concessions. First, the plan was to have all new buildings incorporate green roofs, but they agreed to settle for just new commercial buildings since businesses would better be able to afford the related costs upfront. Second, the goal was initially to make roofs entirely covered in plants, but they reduced the requirement to being partially covered for purposes of practicality. Finally, politicians encouraged environmentalists to allow new buildings to have either plants or solar panels to provide businesses with a more of a choice.
Sure, the ultimate legislation is not as ambitious as it was initially written, but the end result is still great for the environment. These reasonable compromises make sense when they help to ensure backing from politicians.
Toronto, Canada, actually implemented a similar plan about five years ago and is estimating hundreds of millions of dollars saved in energy costs. The same looks to be true for France. Though building managers may not want the stress of having yet another building regulation to worry about, they’ll love the impact down the road. Whether they choose solar panels or green roofs, within a few years time, they should start to make back their money from the initial investment thanks to the energy savings.
Currently, France receives 80 percent of its power from nuclear sources. The new rooftop mandates will nudge the country closer to safer, sustainable choices like solar energy, as well as reduce the need for energy altogether.