Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by M Hjälm

France announces rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels

Last week the French Parliament approved a law requiring all new buildings in commercial zones to be partially covered in plants or solar panels. In a bid to make France more eco-friendly, all new buildings in commercial zones across the country must comply with new environmental legislation.

Lund’s City Hall in Sweden is topped by solar panels and a green roof.
Image courtesy of inhabitat.com

The law will sanction business to either partially cover any roof space with plants or install solar panels to generate electricity. Green roofs are becoming an increasingly popular feature of city infrastructure around the world. This is because they:

  • Can absorb 50-80% of annual rainfall
  • Create habitats for biodiversity
  • Are aesthetically pleasing
  • Transform city roofs into useable amenities, such as parks, vegetable gardens or office recreation areas
  • Reduce indoor temperatures and the urban heat island effect

The city of Nantes is already playing its part. The hedgerows of the communes of Nantes Métropole, European Green Capital 2012, include 41,000 hedgerow trees. These trees are found particularly in the many green public and private spaces, the parks and green belts. There are an estimated 100,000 trees in the Commune of Nantes alone, which gives an idea of the size of this veritable “urban forest”. Nantes’ Tree Charter provides the tools for protecting and developing trees in the city.

It is important to reward cities which are making efforts to improve the urban environment and move towards healthier and sustainable living areas. The European Green Capital Award encourages cities to improve the quality of life of their citizens and reduce the impact on the global environment.