Argentina’s second city, Cordoba, has announced a landmark ruling, issuing a bylaw that requires all buildings – new or existing – with a rooftop space of 400 square meters or more to be turned into green roofs, in an attempt to curb rising air pollution levels in the city’s densest areas, namely Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6, with a clause that allows more neighborhoods to be added later down the line. This makes Cordoba the latest in a line of big cities which have passed similar legislation, including Tokyo, Copenhagen, Zurich and Toronto and the second in Latin America, following Recife, Brazil’s 2015 ruling. Also in 2015, France passed a state-wide ordinance that requires all new commercial real estate to have green roofs. Meanwhile, many other countries incentivize, rather than stipulate, the installation of green roofs.

Cordoba’s legislation, however, has one of the lowest barriers of qualification: the bylaw applies to both new and old and both commercial and residential real estate, whereas Tokyo, Copenhagen, Zurich Recife and Toronto only require new buildings, and France’s recent legislation only requires commercial buildings to follow stipulations. Meanwhile, the 400 square meter threshold applied in Cordoba is far lower than Tokyo’s massive 3,350 and Toronto’s 2,000 (only applicable to buildings taller than 6 floors). While Copenhagen and Zurich do not stipulate a minimum area, instead applying their green roof bylaws to all new buildings, they do specify that only flat or slightly angled roofs are applicable – a rare sight in the two cities where regular rainfall has made slanted roofs the architectural norm.

In Cordoba, technical assistance worth up to 2,000 Argentinian pesos (US $133) per square meter of green roof will be provided by the local government, while registration and licensing fees will be halved for developers building new real estate that complies with the new regulations. A tax incentive will also be offered to proprietors who fall outside of the specified districts and building specifications and build a green roof on a voluntary basis. The Argentinian city hopes to reduce the effects of urban heat islands, absorb more CO2 emissions and retain rainwater through “a network of green roofs in the city.”