Global Challenge, Global Solutions: Legislation Requires Green Roofs, Solar Panels

A new law in France re­quires all new build­ings in com­mer­cial areas be equipped with green roofs or solar pan­els.

“Global Challenge, Global Solutions” is a series hosted on Climasphere highlighting inspiring, innovative, and creative global solutions to the challenge of climate change in the lead up to the next major climate conference, COP22. These solutions have been provided by members of the Earth To Marrakech coalition, a group of more than 50 media organizations, civil society groups, and businesses from around the world who are raising their voices in a collective call to move from words to action on climate change. Let’s send a message, from Earth To Marrakech: The solutions to climate change are out there, and they’re inspiring. 

Legislation Requires Green Roofs, Solar Panels


New le­gis­la­tion in France re­quires all new build­ings in com­mer­cial zones to plant ve­get­a­tion or in­stall solar pan­els on at least a por­tion of their rooftop. The green roofs will help reduce energy use by insulating buildings. The ve­get­a­tion also re­tains rain­wa­ter, which helps pre­vent run­off , and serves a par­tic­u­larly im­port­ant pur­pose in dense cit­ies, such as Paris, of re­du­cing the urban heat is­land ef­fect. The op­tion to in­stall solar pan­els in­stead of green roofs en­ables com­pan­ies to gen­er­ate re­new­able elec­tri­city and will help France ad­vance in the solar mar­ket, where it cur­rently lags be­hind other European coun­tries. Only 2% of France’s elec­tri­city use came from solar power in 2013, while in Ger­many and Spain these fig­ures were 9% and 15%, re­spect­ively. The policy is there­fore a strong strategic decision to mitigate climate change, while bet­ter po­s­i­tion­ing the coun­try’s re­new­able en­ergy mar­ket.


By al­low­ing busi­nesses to choose whether a green roof or solar pan­els would bet­ter suit their needs and pref­er­ence, the law, while man­dat­ory, provides le­ni­ency and of­fers fl  ex­ib­il­ity in com­mer­cial de­cision-mak­ing to­wards help­ing the coun­try’s urban areas mit­ig­ate cli­mate change and boost de­cent­ral­ized solar en­ergy gen­er­a­tion.


Green roofs re­tain rain­wa­ter, fil­ter air by ab­sorb­ing pos­sible pol­lut­ants, and re­duce en­ergy costs.

As solar pan­els and green roofs re­duce the urban heat is­land ef­fect, the policy will help re­duce ex­treme heat and im­prove tem­per­at­ure com­fort in urban en­vir­on­ments.

A green roof can save a build­ing about $200,000 over its life­time, mean­ing this new le­gis­la­tion will provide long-term fin­an­cial be­ne­fits to prop­erty own­ers.

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