The sky’s the limit under Paris’ new green rooftop law, which has won a Green Good Design™ Award for 2016.
Good Design was founded by Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., Eero Saarinen, and Charles and Ray Eames in Chicago in 1950, and continues as the most prestigiousdesign awards program worldwide. In 2015, over 900 products and graphic designs from over 48 countries were awarded with this distinguished prize fordesign excellence.
In 2008, The Chicago Athenaeum added a “Green Edition” to the original Good Design program to emphasize socially responsible design, sustainability, and ecology to buildings, urban planning, landscape architecture, and consumer products, graphics, and packaging.
For 2016 the Museum awarded hundreds international designers, architects, and manufacturers for excelling in Green Good Design. In addition to Paris, those Awards are to be announced.
“In terms of Paris,” states Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, Museum President of The Chicago Athenaeum, “this trailblazing French law makes all new commercial buildings either partially covered in plants or solar panels to be the world’s first mandate for Green Cities worldwide.”
Paris' recently ratified Biodiversity Plan calls to triple the number of rooftop gardens and green roofs in the next decade.
In mid-November 2011, the Paris city council adopted a new Plan de Biodiversité. Among calls for an extension of the electric tramway system and improved management of the two forests that border the city, the plan includes a pledge to create seven more hectares (about 83,000 square yards) of green roofs and rooftop gardens throughout Paris.
Green roofs improve insulation (both for noise and temperature), absorb rainwater, reduce CO2 levels and add an often needed dash of green space to urban landscapes. They're not a new idea, but their benefits have been rediscovered in recent years, and designs have become more common as well as more ambitious.
Currently, Paris is home to 3.7 hectares of rooftop gardens (including the one pictured above) and green roofs. If the City makes good on its pledge, that will represent a nearly 300% increase in the space of eight years, and another feather in the cap of the capital that has taken a lot of steps to encourage its citizens to go green and walked the walk as well.
|Jean Renaudie’s Housing Complex in Ivry sur Seine
|| Hermes’ Green Roof designed by Jean-Claude Ellena
Jean Philippe pargade technical and scientific centrel
According to a new French law approved in 2015, rooftops on all new buildings in commercial zones across France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels.
The City is also emphasizing its green spaces- encouraging community gardens and designating lots of small parks for "ecological management." It's experimenting with wind power- the roof of a museum in the North of the City is part of a study to see if wind turbines could effectively be placed on many Parisian roofs.
Green roofs, which cover rooftop space with a layer of grasses, shrubs, flowers, and other forms of flora, offer a number of benefits. They create an insulating effect, reducing the amount of energy needed to heat or cool a building depending on the season. They increase local access to green space, which often comes at a premium in urban environments. They retain rainwater, thus decreasing runoff and any related drainage issues. They provide a space for urban wildlife, such as birds, to congregate and even nest, and they reduce air pollution by acting as natural filters.
Green rooftops also significantly reduce the urban “heat island” effect in which urban areas are noticeably warmer than their surroundings. The heat island effect can cause large cities to get 1.8°F to 5.4°F warmer than surrounding areas in the day, and 22°F warmer at night, according to the EPA. This effect happens when buildings, roads, and other developments replace formerly open land and greenery, causing surfaces to become moist and impermeable, and to warm up.
Approved by French Parliament, the law was scaled back from initial proposals by environmental groups asking for green roofs to cover the entire rooftop surface of all new buildings. The compromise gave businesses a choice to install solar panels instead or to only cover part of the roof in foliage.
“Even in a trimmed-down form,” adds Narkiewicz-Laine, “the law is trailblazing and will both change the urban landscape of cities across France as well as potentially inspire other countries to follow suit, especially with the United Nations’ climate summit held in Paris at the end of last year.”
France has lagged behind other major European countries like Germany, Italy and Spain in solar power development. As of last summer, France had just over five gigawatts of photovoltaic capacity, accounting for around one percent of total energy consumption. Germany has nearly 40 GWs installed. France is heavily reliable on nuclear power for its energy, and nuclear generation in 2012 made up about 83 percent of the country’s total generation.
Paris Green Roofs are featured in the Green Good Design exhibition opening at Contemporary Space Athens this summer.
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