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Buildings Ford Living Roof (aka green roof)

Published on October 23rd, 2013 | by Tina Casey

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Have You Visited Ford’s Gigantic Living Roof…Lately?

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October 23rd, 2013 by  

We’ve been so busy checking out Ford’s rapidly growing fleet of electric vehicles that we let this one slip under our radar, but it just so happens that the largest green roof, or “living roof” as Ford calls it, in North America has been flourishing atop the company’s Dearborn Truck Plant final assembly building at the Ford Rouge Center for the past ten years.

Ford is in a mood to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of its living roof, which is the size of eight football fields and has enough actual greenery to equal a 10.4 acre garden, so let’s check it out.

The Ford Living Roof

Some green roofs can get pretty elaborate, but the Rouge Center living roof, installed by the company Xeroflora, is more of an all-business, nuts-and-bolts green roof than a bells-and-whistles showcase. It’s planted throughout with low-growing, drought resistant sedum, so aside from its enormous size, visually it’s not much to write home about.

Ford Living Roof (aka green roof)

Ford’s living roof courtesy of Xeroflora

However, it gets the job done. In fact, it proves that even a humble-looking sedum roof can yield stunning results.

According to Ford, the roof saves five percent on heating and cooling costs at the building, which adds up in a large building. It is expected to last twice as long as a conventional roof, which piles on more savings.

As for maintenance, the roof is fertilized and weeded once a year, and it never needs mowing.

In addition to the bottom line benefits for Ford, the living roof also supports 35 different species of plants, insects, spiders and birds.

Other environmental benefits include trapping dust, dirt and other pollutants, as well as absorbing carbon dioxide and returning oxygen to the air.

Green Roofs and Stormwater Management

A key function of the roof is stormwater management. It’s actually just one part of a stormwater makeover for the Dearborn facility to reduce pollutants going into the Rouge River. In addition to the green roof the upgrades include a porous pavement parking lot, retention ponds, natural wetlands filtration, and swales (a swale is a wetland area between ridges).

The stormwater system in turn was part of a broader sustainability makeover for the plant, which included capturing fumes from the paint shop, natural lighting, and efficiency upgrades for artificial lighting, heating, ventilation, and cooling systems.

Ford Transitions To A Sustainable Future

Speaking of Ford’s EV fleet, the company has already stepped things up to the next level with its MyEnergi Lifestyle package, which treats your EV as a major appliance on wheels, which can be integrated into a comprehensive home energy management system.


Moving things even farther along, Ford has also partnered with the major home builder KB Home to bundle MyEnergi with the company’s “ZeroHouse 2.0″ model that provides the potential for net zero energy use, with the help of solar panels.

That’s just part of the EV equation, by the way. Among other projects, Ford is looking into squeezing the last bit of juice out of spent EV batteries, with a demonstration used EV battery system in tandem with a solar array, and it’s been adding more bio-based materials to its vehicles (the company is even experimenting with rubber made from dandelion sap).

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • JamesWimberley

    The cutting edge is green walls: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_wall. Developed and popularised (though not invented) by ingenious French botanist Patrick Blanc (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Blanc).
    There’s a potential roof-use conflict between planting and solar panels. However, you can only plant on strong flat roofs, while the ideal roof for PV is ridged, and can be lightweight. In hot climates, shade beneath panels is actually a plus for plants and wildlife, as it slows drying out.

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