Last fall, the Ford Motor Company announced a $4.5 billion investment in EV and battery R&D, and now the company has upped the ante on itself. For the first time since the 1950s, Ford is embarking on a complete do-over of its product operations and global headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, that seems aimed at soaking the entire company in EV culture. The effort will transition the company’s current roster of 70 buildings into two “green” campuses that will double as showcases and test beds for cutting edge mobility products, much of which revolves around EV technology and connectivity.
And yes, Ford’s eBikes will be part of it.
How Serious Is Ford About E-Bikes?
First things first — it’s true, Ford eBikes are a thing. In January CleanTechnica visited the North American International Auto Show in Detroit as a guest of Ford, which provided the opportunity to pepper Dr. Ken Washington, the company’s VP for Research and Advanced Engineering, with questions about Ford’s recent ventures into pedal-power.
The answer was “very serious.” In fact, e-bikes were one of only two mobility solutions that made the cut for particular attention from Ford, after the company explored more than a score of other mobility options for marketing potential (the other area of focus is non-traditional/shared vehicle ownership).
So, the new Product Campus will serve as a pilot location enabling Ford to test out its Ford-branded eBike in action, along with autonomous vehicles and on-demand shuttles.
The Product Campus is also designed as an all-weather walkable community — an important consideration for chilly Michigan winters — so covered walkways are featured along with trails and biking/walking paths.
Ford Meets EV Culture
Of course, for the foreseeable future, the bulk of Ford’s products will run on liquid fuel (fossil petroleum or biofuel), but the new Product Campus will pickle many of the company’s 30,000 employees in EV culture by focusing on sustainability.
We’re calling it EV culture because after all, the whole point of the EV revolution is to make things better. Ford is extending that concept past simply reducing airborne air pollutants, to include overall health and wellness as well as new mobility options that have the potential to embrace populations far beyond the car-owning public.
The new Product Campus replaces the 1953 Research and Engineering Center…
That roundish building near the foreground sports a rooftop full of solar panels. That’s clearly not enough to power the whole campus, but it’s a start. The main sustainable energy technology is geothermal heating and cooling.
Construction is beginning this month, with completion slotted for 2023.
Old World HQ Meets EV Culture
The other campus will preserve the iconic Ford World Headquarters building, but update its surroundings to encourage walking and biking. The company will renew its commitment to the 1960s era Arjay Miller Arboretum at the site, and focus on native plantings and more green space throughout. Renovations are expected to begin in 2021.
Overall, the two campuses are not striving for the highest level in LEED building energy efficiency standards, most likely due to the unique demands of functional operations. However, the company is aiming for at least Gold certification, partly through energy savings:
…increased building insulation, new glazing systems, state-of-the-art lighting and daylighting, and heat recovery will reduce overall energy use in new buildings by approximately 50 percent annually.
Rainwater capture and treatment is also a main feature at both campuses, along with smart metering and high efficiency fixtures to reduce potable water use. Rainwater retention areas and lavish tree canopies are also part of the water management plan.
With an eye on future improvements, the plans include a net-zero waste, energy, and water Sustainability Center that goes beyond LEED to meet the Living Building Challenge for net zero construction.
The challenges of true net-zero construction can be daunting, and they include health issues such as indoor air quality. However, it seems that Ford already has a head start on ensuring that the wellness of building occupants is a major feature of the Sustainability Center.
The designer of the new campuses, SmithGroupJJR, already has an impressive stock of green projects under its belt, and has incorporated the WELL Building Standard® into its design.
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All images: via The Ford Motor Company.
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