Ford Rouge Center: World's Largest Living Roof


There was a time when industrial and natural landscapes were in opposite corners of a pretty bloody boxing ring. Now that's all being changed. Ford hired sustainability guru William McDonough to redevelop the Rouge Center, where the F-150 is built, and they've ended up with the largest green roof in the world. Plus a load of other eco-innovations that bring industry and nature together. The 10.4 acre sedum roof insulates the building, provides a habitat for birds and insects, produces oxygen to offset the factory's carbon dioxide emissions, and purifies rainwater. "Instead of having a chemical-based storm water treatment plant," Ford says, "this system mimics nature." Down on the ground, the area......surrounding the buildings has also been landscaped for natural water run-off and habitat creation. And not just that: the plants outside the factory and microbes on their roots use an experimental process called phytoremediation to remove manufacturing contaminants from the soil. Using an eco-system to your advantage rather than destroying it—hooray! Ford's also testing a system to make hydrogen fuel for fuel cells (used with photovoltaic cells to power the factory) out of leftover volatile organic compounds—Fumes-to-Fuel, they call it. They're rendering as much industrial waste as possible harmless or—even better—useful, which definitely shows the mark of McDonough's C2C philosophy as well as the continuing spirit of Henry Ford's industrial innovation. ::Ford Rouge Center ::William McDonough + Partners [by KK]



A section of the sedum-covered roof.