When Ford knocked on my door to visit their headquarter in January, I hemmed and hawed not because of Ford, but who wants to go to Detroit in January? Can you say bone chilling? (Been there, done that.) But they knew how to get a green building geek girl wobbly at the knees and beg for me. Wave a green building tour in front of her nose. And yes, we were headed to Ford’s Rouge Factory with its scrumptious green attributes.
And I wasn’t disappointed. (Do you see me in the above picture? With a smile all over my face? No, I am not the man in the picture.)
The Rogue’s living green roof which is atop o f the Dearborn Truck Plant is 10.4 acres and is part of an $18 million dollar rainwater treatment facility. The roof contains sedum, which is drought resistant perennial groundcover. The picture doesn’t give the plants justice since they are dormant. During the growing season they are beautiful plants. In the fall, when they bloom the wasp love them. (Do you have to ask if I own this plant?)
The beauty of a living roof is that it’s like a hat for the roof in the winter and sunglasses in the summer. It keep the building cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter since it insulates the roof. Most roof are black asphalt which heats up the building during the summer. According to Ford, the roof reduces the heating and cooling costs by 5 percent. In addition, the green roof adds to the life of the original roof. Ford states this roof will last at least two times longer than a conventional roof.
In addition, to the biodiversity of birds, butterflies, and bees that a living roof attracts, it also helps to clean the outdoor air by trapping dust and absorbing carbon dioxide. In turn, the roof creates oxygen.
As you can tell, I am a green roof junkie. Green Building + gardening. What’s not to love. For more information about green roofs, see my article about Live Roof® , a green roof modular system. It contains a podcast and video interview with the founder.
Storm Water Management
The Rouge offers a complex natural storm water management system. Most of the rainwater that falls on the roof is absorbed by the green roof. The balance is drained off into stone storage basins located under the porous pavement parking lot nearby. (For those wishing to read more about porous pavement and its benefits, read here.)
Thereafter, water flows into the bio-swales and treatment wetland where the plants “filter” the water and prevents dust and dirt from migrating into the rivers and lakes.
As you can see from the picture above, there are large skylights that resemble little houses all over the roof which bring in nature light into the factory. According to the USGBC, the skylights decreases about 50% of artificial illumination in the factory which is turn reduces Ford’s electrical consumption.
Additionally studies have shown that natural lighting “can affect the physiological and psychological health of factory workers.”
Solar Panels and Solar Hot Water
Although it is hard to see in the picture above, there is a row of solar panels on the top roof. On the ground there are rows of solar hot water panels.
Paint Fumes and Fuel Cell
Ford is using paint fumes, which is then turned into electricity using fuel cells. If you want a view of this picture in a larger frame, click here. And yes, this green girl was impressed.
But that’s not all. Ford appealed to my gardening side as well.
Ford harvests honey from its bees, which are attracted to the variety of specimens throughout the property including the crab apple orchard. Take a look at the solar panel picture above. The trees are right after the circular roadway. Our guide told us that the trees were planted to clean the soil.
The technical explanation of the trees’ use is as follows:
“Ford is experimenting with a biological process called phytoremediation to remove PAH compounds from soil near the old Rouge coke ovens. PAH compounds are polyaromatic hydrocarbons, a by-product of decades of steel manufacturing. Many years ago, large furnaces called coke ovens were used in the steel-making process.
Phytoremediation uses plants, and the microbes attracted to their roots, to break down contaminants into harmless organic compounds which are absorbed into the roots. This process helps rid the soil of PAH compounds. It also filters storm water runoff, regenerates wildlife habitat, and beautifies the landscape.”
Was I in love? You betcha. This building contains all the green attributes that I love. And they threw in fuel cell technology. They had me at “hello.”
Join the Conversation:
- What green attribute do you love about this building?
- If you went, which one really impressed you?
Ford paid for my travel and accommodation. All opinion are my own.
Photo by Nature Moms