The East London Garden Society

New Rooftops Must Be Covered In Plants or Solar Panels

A new law passed by the French Parliament decrees that rooftops on new buildings constructed in commercial zones must be partially covered in plants or solar panels.

The law approved by the Socialist government was a scaled‐back version of a law proposed by environmental groups asking for green roofs to cover the entire rooftop surfaces on all new buildings constructed in France. The compromise law gives businesses the option of installing solar panels instead or partially cover the rooftops with living foliage.

There are many advantages to having grasses, shrubs and flowers or other flora covering a structure’s rooftop. The most obvious is the insulating effect, reducing the need to heat or cool the building, depending on the season. Green roofs also help to retain water, reducing runoff and other drainage issues.

Green rooftops help with biodiversity, giving birds, bees and other urban wildlife access to an environment that is sometimes missing in the urban jungle today; and green rooftops will aid in reducing pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

France feels their green roof law is trailblazing and will change the urban landscape in cities all across the country, inspiring other countries to follow in their footsteps. The government is also encouraging the implementation of solar panels on rooftops because France has lagged behind other European nations like Germany, Spain and Italy, in solar power development.

The green roof concept is not new. Green roofs have been around for centuries. Modern green roofs as we know them today were developed in Germany about fifty years ago where the green roof industry is worth over $77 million annually. However in Germany, the industry has the backing of the government, unlike other countries.