Different countries have adopted different approaches toward sustainability. Some may incorporate trees into architectural features, while others embed sustainability into the building structure and various other operational aspects. In France, especially in Paris, one can see multiple green roofs on buildings. For example, department stores help contribute a positive impact not only to the environment and ecosystem in various layers but also to the department store itself, society, and the world.
WHY GREEN ROOFS?
Green roofs have been adopted since the European heat wave that occurred in 2003. It was the hottest summer Europe had ever witnessed, with over 37,000 mortalities and Paris was one of the cities that was hit hardest by the wave. Consequently, European countries, specifically Paris, have begun to initiate climate change initiatives. Since 2015, France has enacted a law that specifies any newly built building within commercial areas must have either green space or solar roof panels to create a sustainable ecosystem that positively impacts the world’s overall climate. France is the first country to enforce such legislation nationwide. A green roof is when a growing medium such as soil and a covering of vegetation is added, offering Triple Bottom Line (Profit, People, and Planet) benefits significantly. According to the Green Building Council of Australia, these benefits include healing urban heat island effects, lowering energy demand, contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions, elevating citizen productivity and well-being, and building habitats for micro and macro-organisms such as birds and insects.
SMALL ACTIONS COMBINED BRING GREAT IMPACT
In fact, various other countries and cities have installed green roofs on their building, for instance, Toronto, Tokyo, New York, Copenhagen, etc. Paris has seen a significant surge in green roof installations with over 760,000 square meters combined in 2020. According to the World Green Infrastructure Network (WGIN), hundreds of tiny green areas combined can be more effective than one or two big parks in terms of carbon capturing and biodiversity.
Interestingly, various department stores in Paris, Galeries Lafayette, and Printemps are over half a century old or even more. However, they still show their responsibility although they are not required to as they are not new buildings. In the case of Galeries Lafayette, it also participated in building a 3,200 square meters wide green space on its rooftop to impact the city positively. Besides, they do not only use the green space as parks alone. They could also be used as spaces to arrange fashion shows or events, providing an additional income source—a win-win situation—for the department store itself. Regarding Printemps, the mall not only installs green roofs on its department store but also signed Paris Green Roof Charter to contribute over 100,000 square meters of green roofs to the city.
Many might consider green roof installation a small act. However, if done by numerous buildings, especially high-traffic buildings like department stores, it can generate both positive impacts and public awareness. Climate change is seen as an essential issue, and the government sector has taken action by enacting laws and regulations. This generates positive effects, with whole ecosystems acting efficiently and tangibly rather than working without direction separately, beginning with small acts, starting from individuals or department stores and expanding to society. These combined efforts may have an impact on a national level and contribute to making the world a better place.
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