Under a new law approved last Thursday by the French parliament, all new commercial zone buildings must be either partially covered in plants or solar panels.
While the new environmental legislation applies to all new buildings in commercial zones across the entire country, it does not go as far as initial proposals by French environmental activists. According to an article in the Guardian, they wanted to make green roofs covering the entire surface mandatory on new buildings. The law also gives businesses the choice to instead install solar panels to generate electricity.
Green roofs serve several purposes: they absorb rainwater, provide insulation, encourage biodiversity, and help to lower urban air temperatures, thus mitigating the heat island effect.
Green roofs are especially popular in German and Australia, writes the Guardian, while on the other side of the Atlantic, the city of Toronto in Canada adopted a by-law in 2009 making them mandatory in industrial and residential buildings.