In case you need a reason to say “vive la France,” the French parliament just gave you one.
Last week, the governing body passed a law that requires new buildings in commercial zones to be partially covered in either plants or solar panels, Agence France-Presse reported.
French environmental activists urged the government to pass a law requiring new buildings to cover their entire roofs with plants. However, the government managed to work with the activists, who support the new law.
Solar PV capacity in France has increased much more slowly than in Germany, Spain or Italy, Reuters reported in November. In June, France had 5,095 megawatts of PV capacity, accounting for 1 percent of the energy consumption in the first half of 2014. Neighboring Germany had almost 37,000 MW.
Why are urban areas warmer? Buildings and roads have replaced open land and vegetation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains. That means that surfaces which were moist and permeable become dry and impermeable. This causes urban regions to become warmer, forming an island of higher temperatures -- known as an urban heat island.
Heat islands cause a number of negative impacts, according to the EPA, including:
Green roofs are not the only way to cool an urban heat island. A 2014 French study discovered that solar panels also reduce the effect. In other words, solar panels provide energy that is good for the environment and provide environmental benefits by reducing the urban heat island effect. Très bon!
Image credit: David Werner
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.