France has implemented environmental legislation that will require new buildings constructed in commercial areas to partially cover their roofs in either plants or solar panels.
Although we are not aware of any Canadian legislation requiring the installation of solar panels on roof tops, requiring green roofs is becoming increasingly common. Toronto has had a green roof by-law in place since 2009, becoming the first city in North America to do so. Toronto’s by-law requires new buildings with a minimum gross floor area of 2,000 square metres to have some portion of their roofs covered with greenery. The percentage of green roof coverage required depends upon the size of the building. Buildings having a gross floor area of more than 20,000 square metres, for example, require a green roof that covers 60 per cent of their available roof space.
More and more municipalities have been regulating buildings to reduce the effects of climate change. Ontario recently introduced changes to the Municipal Act, 2001 and the City of Toronto Act that specifically empowers municipalities to pass by-laws to require the construction of green roofs or similar roof surfaces.
France has emerged as something of a leader in the innovative use of solar panels. For example, the world’s first solar highway opened in a small town norther France in late 2016. The 1 kilometre road features one lane entirely covered with solar cells. The goal is for the cells to eventually generate enough electricity to power the town of Tourouvre-au-Perche, though which the road runs.