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Alia Fawaz

According to a recent French law , all new buildings that are constructed in commercial areas must now be partially covered by either solar panels or green roofs. This law will certainly change the French skyline, and help the country to accelerate the development of solar power, a field in which it currently lags behind other major European countries, such as Italy , Germany, and Spain .

French environmental activists had initially called for a stricter law that would have required all new buildings to be completely covered with either solar panels or plants. The government, however, restricted the new law to commercial buildings. Even so, this will make a significant contribution to a greener France.

The solar electricity that is produced on a roof can partially or entirely cover your power needs. Of course, solar panels are not as pretty to look at as a lush rooftop garden, but the panels help us to conserve our nonrenewable energy sources as well as to reduce our carbon footprint. In 2014, solar energy production reduced global carbon dioxide emissions by around 110 million tons.

In addition, green roofs serve to insulate the buildings and thereby substantially reduce the need for both heating and air conditioning. Green roofs also help to reduce runoff by retaining rainwater, and they improve air quality by absorbing pollutants. The installation and maintenance of green roofs still cost significantly more than that of solar panels, and their price and complexity puts off many homeowners and developers. However, new studies are demonstrating that the benefits and longterm savings from green roofs more than offset the extra up-front investment.

French builders may initially opt to place more solar panels than gardens on the new rooftops. Nevertheless, this would still mean progress towards a greener France. The new French law provides a good example of green legislation for other countries to follow.

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