Solar Panels Or Greenery For Every New Building Rooftop In France

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A new law was approved in France recently that requires the rooftops of every new building in a commercial zone to be partially covered with either solar panels or plants. Environmental activists in France wanted all new buildings to be completely covered by plants or solar panels, but the French government only went about halfway to that point.

It did not want to pass a law that would be too “extreme.” The rationale was that legislation that imposes too much extra cost on businesses (even if it’s just upfront costs leading to financial savings) can have a damaging effect on an economy. (It will be interesting to see if there will also be an economically stimulating impact due to the extra solar power activity and extra purchase of plants and supporting materials.)

paris opera

The point of adding solar panels is obvious enough — generating electricity cleanly — but if you’re confused about the second part, including plants can help buildings by deflecting sunlight so that they stay cooler during hot periods, and they also provide extra insulation that allows the buildings to retain heat during cold weather.

Over the long term, building owners might save money by generating a portion of their own electricity and by paying less in utility bills (if their green rooftops do reduce cooling and heating costs significantly).

Interestingly, solar panels not only generate electricity, but also have a similar insulating effect. Green rooftops also attract and support birds in urban settings that can otherwise be fairly inhospitable to them. They also can help reduce the heat island effect in urban areas, so temperatures during summers are comfortably decreased.

France currently relies mostly on electricity from nuclear power, but many of these power plants, and this new law seems that it will result in a lot more solar power systems being installed.

American researchers found a number of years ago, that green rooftops can reduce global warming and climate change. “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.”

NASA has published some information on green rooftops as well.

Of course, green rooftops are probably more aesthetically appealing, but this effect is not agreed upon by all.

While the new law didn’t go that far, people could choose to put both plants and solar panels on their roofs….

Related Story: Green Roofs & Solar Panels: The Future of Renewable Energy?

Image Credit: Eric Pouhler, Wiki Commons

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Jake Richardson

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter:

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8 thoughts on “Solar Panels Or Greenery For Every New Building Rooftop In France

  • French are redefining the word power plant.

  • This is great! We won’t need big solar farms if all the urban buildings are covered with solar panels. The DoE says that if only 7% of our developed land were covered with solar panels we woudln’t need any open space for them = 0.6% of all land in the US.

    France can serve as an example to the rest of the world. I have been pushing to do the same in my own CA city to deaf ears. The city council couldn’t even agree to require new commercial buildings to be PV-panel ready.

  • Areva is a French state owned nuclear company, lost 5 billion euro in 2014.
    Peugeot Citroen is a state owned car company with no EV car production.
    Paris shut down half by air pollution 23 march 2015.
    due to gas diesel Peugeot Citroen
    and now a half a roof with solar PV or plants law.
    France has a long way to go.

  • This is very good news. France is an excellent location for distributed solar with decent levels of sunshine and high retail electricity prices (yes, they are high), but seemed to be lagging in distributed solar.

  • Think how cheap solar would be if it was mandated for every new roof (exemptions for locations that don’t get enough sun). The panels need to be constructed to be the roofing material (like solar shingles), not something that is installed on top of the roof.

  • I think this is stupid. People will just put some earth on the roofs and wait for the weeds to invade it. Done. Green rooftop. Effect: zero.

    • You might want to actually read the article. Benefits are explained starting from the 3rd paragraph.

    • if they are designing the roof-top that it can handle layer of soil and plant growt then it also means that roof-tops can be used for productive urban agriculture.

Comments are closed.