France approved a new law that requires all new roofs in commercial zones to be partially covered in plants or solar panels. It’s a large and positive step taken by a country far lagging far behind with implementing environmental changes, compared to other European countries. For example, Germany boasts 40 gigawatts of installed solar power, compared to France’s 5 gigawatts.
Plants provide insulation, reducing energy needed for heating or cooling; plants retain water and reduce pollution; and they decrease the “heat island” effect. According to the EPA, large cities get 1.8 degrees to 5.4 degrees warmer than surrounding areas in the day and remain as much as 22 degrees warmer at night.
Importantly, the new law was modified to allow solar panels to be substituted for vegetation.
The new rooftop law will serve as an example to other countries and comes at a good time for France, which will be hosting the United Nations’ climate summit coming to Paris at the end of the year.