Many European countries have been embracing solar energy and rethinking the energy equation. Germany, for example, now produces more than 40 gigawatts of installed solar power. Italy produces just less than 20 gigawatts, followed by the United Kingdom, with just less than 10 gigawatts.
However, it is France that might just be paving the way for solar energy to become not just a sustainable choice, but a mandatory one. On March 19, of this year, France approved a new law that requires all new roofs in commercial zones to be partially covered with either vegetation, or solar panels.
While the law only requires that a portion of the roof be covered by solar panels, or be what many know as a green roof – one that is used to harvest a layer of grasses, shrubs, or flowers, the original version of the law would have required that the entire roof be covered.
However, even with a portion of the roof utilized for solar energy, or vegetation, buildings in France’s commercial zones can expect better insulation, decreased runoff and drainage, a natural filter to reduce air pollution, and, of particular interest to French citizens, more enjoyable green spaces.
Green roofs also tend to improve the entire urban community through decreased temperatures in large cites which typically get 2 to 6 degrees warmer than their outlying areas – known as the “heat island” effect.
France’s new rooftop law also comes at a very appropriate time as Paris will be hosting the United Nations’ climate summit later this year. The question many leaders will likely leave the summit with is: Should we be implementing laws like this in our countries? Only time will tell.
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