Ford’s Green Roof Thriving 10 Years After Construction Began: a New York Times blog takes notice

On the occasion of its green roof’s 10th anniversary, we touched base with the team at the Ford Rouge–one of our favorite clients. They confirmed that the roof still thrives, and this story was picked up by New York Times blogger, Phil Patton on December 29.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The new Rouge was to be the most visible and publicized symbol of the environmental commitment that Bill Ford, then Ford’s chief, made the centerpiece of his vision for the company. As part of the Rouge’s refurbishment, Ford hired the environmentally progressive architect William McDonough, who devised a water-handling system built around a roof of plants.

‘This is not environmental philanthropy,’ Mr. Ford said at the time. ‘It is sound business, which for the first time balances the business needs of auto manufacturing with ecological and social concerns in the redesign of a brownfield site.’

But faced with buyers’ robust tastes for heavy, gasoline-intensive vehicles, many of the company’s commitments to greening operations-–among them drastic increases in average miles per gallon of Ford vehicles–were sidelined. The green roof, however, was seen though to its completion in 2002.

The roof project was also undertaken by necessity. Thanks largely to runoff from the factory and its parking lots, the river from which the plant takes its name was highly polluted. Ford was faced with a bill estimated at $50 million to build facilities to clean runoff water to meet Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Mr. McDonough’s approach was not only greener but cheaper, coming in at $15 million versus more than triple that sum for a comparably scaled conventional water-management system, according to McDonough’s firm. The project centered on the 10-acre green roof, but also involved devices to slow runoff and absorb rain, thereby allowing so-called wet meadows and shallow, plant-lined ditches to thrive.

Early predictions that the roof would become a weedy wasteland have not come true. Several species of sedum dominate the plantings, and it has remained free of weeds, although it does require the seasonal application of fertilizer and occasional watering through an integrated irrigation system.”

You can see the full blog post here.