REALWorld Law


Environmental assessment and sustainability

What type of legislation exists dealing with environmental issues affecting building works and with promoting sustainable developments?



Under French law, in principle, environmental issues are governed by the French Environmental Code (Code de l’environnement). However, some environmental issues are dealt in specific regulations, such as those dealing with the management of hazardous waste and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

Other issues of interest may include the French Forest Code and the Constitutional Environmental Charter.

Sustainable development

In recognition of the need for sustainable development, the Grenelle de l’Environnement law, which was passed on 3 August 2009 (Grenelle 1), is aimed, in particular to enable standards for lower energy emission to be applied generally in new housing and public buildings, as well as setting up incentives for the renovation of various facilities.

The Grenelle 2 law, passed on 12 July 2010, also known as the national commitment to the environment, gives effect to the principles and directions laid down by the Grenelle Environmental Forum (Grenelle de l’environnement).

The Grenelle 2 law consists of six ‘pillars’, one of them being ‘improving the energy performance of buildings’. The aim is to reduce the energy consumption of existing buildings by 38% by 2020.

The Elan Law passed on 23 November 2018 modified the schedule for the implementation of the energy efficiency works in the tertiary sector by setting the first deadline at 2030 while maintaining the overall ambition of a 40% reduction in energy expenses (50% in 2040 and 60% in 2050) compared to 2010. It also planned to modulate the performance objective according to the size of the building.

This ambition was reaffirmed by the Energy-Climate Law passed on 8 November 2019, which aims for carbon neutrality in 2050, and then by the Climate-Resilience Law passed on 22 August 2021, which plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by year 2030.

More recently, the Law accelerating the production of renewable energies adopted on 10 March 2023, aims to develop solar energy by requiring the installation of solar panels on half the surface area of parking lots larger than 1500 sqm as from 1st January 2023 and on certain buildings with a minimum coverage gradually increasing from 30% in 2023 to 50% in 2027. Should the car park not be managed under a concession or public service delegation agreement, the obligation must be met:

  • 1 July 2026 for car parks of more than 10,000 sq. m.;
  • 1 July 2028 for car parks of less than 10,000 sq. m. (and more than 1,500 sq. m.).

Please note that article 40 of the above-mentioned law provides for a number of exceptions - which have yet to be specified by decree in the Conseil d'Etat –- so that the operator may be exempted from the obligation to install photovoltaic shading:

  • if they install another process enabling equivalent production of renewable energy;,
  • if there are technical, safety, architectural, heritage, environmental or site and landscape constraints;,
  • when the economic cost of meeting the obligation is difficult to bear;,
  • if at least half of the car park is shaded by trees; or,
  • in the case of a car park whose total or partial elimination or transformation is planned as part of a development project or operation mentioned in article L. 300-1 of the French Planning Code, or by a planning permission.