The French Parliament just passed a law that requires all commercial buildings in France to have their rooftops partially covered with solar panels or plants. The law passed is actually a step down from what environmentalists had pushed, as it only covers commercial buildings, not all buildings, and it only requires rooftops covered, not the entire building covered. The French Parliament feared that being too extreme could hurt businesses financially, however it will be interesting to see if the new regulations actually save money and boost the economy in the long run.
These new structures will be more costly than regular rooftops, but they will likely pay off in the long run, as solar panels can provide the building energy and can have an insulating effect. Having a plant-covered rooftop could also likely pay off, as they reflect sunlight, allowing cooling during hot seasons, and also insulate, keeping warmth in cooler seasons. Plants would also help with water run off.
This is a great way for France to move further into the direction of renewable energy, and this could be very effective in reducing our carbon footprint. According to a Michigan study on the effects of green rooftops, “the researchers found that replacing traditional roofing materials with green roofs in an urban area the size of Detroit, with a population of about one million, would capture more than 55,000 tons of carbon. That is roughly similar to eliminating a year’s worth of carbon dioxide emitted by 10,000 mid-sized SUVs and trucks.”