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Ford Motor Company

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Ford Motor Company

Sustainability Program at Ford Rouge Center
Dearborn, Michigan

The revitalization of the Rouge Project is a terrific opportunity to demonstrate sustainability by transforming the icon of 20th century industrial manufacturing into the model of the 21st century sustainable manufacturing center.” – Bill Ford, Jr.

The massive and monumental symbol of America’s manufacturing might was the vision of Henry Ford. His idea was to achieve total efficiency by owning, operating and coordinating all the resources needed to produce completed automobiles. The original complex was a mile and a half wide by more than a mile long, with 93 buildings, 15 million sq. ft. of floor area crisscrossed by 120 miles of conveyors.

There were ore docks, steel furnaces, coke ovens, glass furnaces, stamping and assembly plants, transmission and radiator plants, tool and die plants and even a paper mill. A massive power plant produced enough electricity to light a city the size of nearby Detroit, and a soybean conversion plant turned soybeans into plastic auto parts.

Enter the New Millennium. Now with a new vision of a new generation of leadership, Bill Ford announced the Ford Rouge Center – a massive revitalization effort to restore the icon’s glory and keep it as the largest single industrial complex for Ford Motor Company.

The new Ford Rouge Center includes one of the world’s most advanced flexible manufacturing facilities, capable of building up to nine different models on three vehicle platforms. The idea includes advanced environmental concepts designed to balance the needs of auto manufacturing with social and environmental concerns.

Sustainability and the World’s Largest Living Roof
The Sustainability Program embodied the highest level of Ford’s sustainable vision and included:

  • The environmental redevelopment of the entry corridor, which resulted in the planting of over 10,000 plants, trees and shrubs.
  • Comprehensive site environmental storm water management systems.
  • The creation of the Ford Rouge Visitor Center – an experiential opportunity to learn of the history of the site as well as see the production of new vehicles and casting molten steel. (The Center is LEED® Gold Certified).
  • Renewable and alternative energy initiatives such as solar photovoltaic energy supplement to the main grid and solar thermal heating of hot water.
  • Energy reduction through the incorporation of a 1.3 million gallon Thermal Storage Tank, which also reduced capital equipment and costs.
  • Water conversion through the use of waterless urinals, electronic censoring of fixtures and reuse of grey water.
  • Phytoremediation pilot projects conducted with Michigan State University.
  • Environmental building systems and the recycling of materials.

Of all the visions and innovation, nothing has attracted more attention than the largest living roof in the world now growing on top of the Dearborn Truck Plant final assembly building. At 454,000 sq. ft. it is the largest living roof in the world – effectively turning the roof into a 10-acre garden.

The roof’s primary function is to collect and filter rainfall as part of the storm water management system. The roof’s porous pavement, underground storage basins, natural treatment wetlands and vegetation significantly reduce the amount of storm water flowing into the Rouge River, while also improving water quality.

Planted with drought-resistant groundcover called sedum, the living roof helps reduce the “heat effect” while providing insulation that reduces heating and cooling costs by 5 percent. It creates a natural habitat for birds, butterflies and insects. It also has extended the life of the roof by protecting it from ultraviolet radiation, lasting at least twice as long and saving millions of dollars in replacement costs.