Photo: Ben Garrett/Flickr
Just in time for the spring equinox, the French National Assembly has approved a new piece of legislation that aims to green both roofs and the urban environment. The law, which was passed Thursday, states that all new buildings constructed in commercial zones must be partially or fully covered with vegetation or solar panels.
The ruling Socialist Party came to an agreement with activists who had previously sought to impose the law on residential and commercial buildings, with full roof coverage. Green roofs help to sustain biodiversity, collect rainwater, improve air quality, conserve energy and reduce the urban heat island effect. Additionally, the renewable energy generated from solar panels will help to power the buildings they are installed upon.
A similar bylaw has been in effect in Paris since 2006. To receive a building permit, a development must dedicate a significant amount of its square footage to green space. By 2020, the city hopes to amass more than 17 acres of toitures végétalisées. In 2009, Toronto became the first city in North America to pass a bylaw requiring all new residential, commercial and institutional developments to construct partial green roofs.
In the same session of the National Assembly, French lawmakers passed an incentive to encourage the development of non-waterproofed parking lots, which help to support soil filtration, infiltration and oxygenation.