In my Sustainable Landscape Practice class, we are learning about Green Roofs. The project I decided to review was a green roof on the Ford Truck Plant in Dearborn, Michigan. The design architect of the green roof and other sustainable updates was William McDonough + Partners in 2000. McDonough and other experts renovated Ford’s historic truck manufacturing plant to provide workers with ‘abundant natural light and fresh air that restores native habitat to the site.’ The main focus of the site is the 10-acre vegetative roof. This green roof was the largest installation of its kind in the United States.
The green roof, installed by the company Xeroflora, is a very functional green roof. It is planted throughout with low-growing, drought resistant sedum (an ornamental plant with small star-shaped flowers) that requires very little maintenance. The roof provides many environmental benefits such as:
• The Green roof reduces the amount of energy needed (by 5% for Ford’s Tuck Plant) to moderate the temperature of the building, resulting in a more energy efficient building.
• The Green roof can store rainwater which will be used for the plants, decreasing the stress on gutters and sewer systems.
• The Green Roof moderates the temperature of the water and filters the pollutants out of the water if it happens to run off.
• The Green Roof can reduce the heat island effect, which is helpful because the city of Dearborn is part of the Detroit Metropolitan Area.
• Green Roofs can also help reduce the dust, particulate matter, and smog in the air resulting from this factory (improving the air quality).
• Green Roofs can also potentially decrease the amount of CO2 and other polluting by-products being released into the air.
• This Green Roof provides a habitat for various bird species which have found this spot to be a safe place to lay eggs.
• This Green Roof has long been a symbol of the green building movement in Dearborn and perhaps has inspired other buildings to ‘go green,’ making an overall more sustainable city.
In my opinion, this is a very successful project. The enormous green roof is a statement piece as well as a very functional roof. The green roof serves the building and the environment in a variety of positive ways from saving money on energy usage to restoring the local plant habitat. Architect William McDonough is never failing in producing long lasting sustainable pieces of architecture, and this green roof at the Ford Truck Plant is part of his collection. For over ten years now the roof has served as an example to the local community of the green building movement and how sustainable techniques can be applied on a large factory scale. There is nothing I would change about the design or aesthetics of this green roof because it was not meant to be a fancy, highly decorated green roof which needs a lot of maintenance, but rather it was meant to serve the building and environment in a very natural way.
Image 1: Here is a section I created which expresses the structure of a typical Green Roof.
Photo by Author.
‘Ford’s Giant Green Roof’ – The Energy Collective
‘Ford Truck Plant Renovation’ – William McDonough + Partners
‘Giant Green Roofs’ – TreeHugger
‘Green Roof Construction Detail’ Inspiration
‘Green Roofs for Healthier Cities’ – GreenRoofs.org
‘The Living Roof at Ford’ – The Henry Ford Factory