Rouge: Five Years of Green


Rouge Visitor Center

This month, Ford Motor Company celebrates the fifth anniversary of the “greening” of Ford Rouge Center and the construction of its environmentally friendly Dearborn Truck Plant.

In 2003, Ford worked with consultants and universities to reinvent the Rouge, an icon of the 20th century’s Industrial Revolution, into a symbol of the 21st century’s Sustainable Revolution. Through comprehensive redevelopment, the historic brownfield site became a lean, flexible manufacturing facility – one that serves as a positive example of large-scale sustainability for companies, educators and organizations around the world.

Sustainable Solutions
The Ford Rouge Center is best known for its innovative storm-water management system that includes the largest “living” roof in the automotive industry and one of the largest in the world. Sedum, a drought-resistant perennial groundcover, covers 10.4 acres of roof at the Rouge’s Dearborn Truck Plant. Not only does the plant life help diminish storm-water runoff, it doubles the life of the roof, provides insulation, reduces cooling and heating demands by five percent, and absorbs carbon dioxide to reduce greenhouse gases. Additionally, a porous pavement parking lot, storm water swales and retention ponds are used to regulate water flow, evaporation and improve storm water management.

Among the facility’s other sustainability solutions are the pollution-reducing, energy-generating “Fumes-to-Fuel” system in its paint shop, natural day lighting and reduced energy artificial lighting systems in its assembly areas, an energy-efficient heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system, as well as the creation of a wildlife habitat. In addition, the Rouge Factory Tour Visitor Center earned Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council based on its Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) rating system.

Lasting Influence
More than 500,000 people — including school groups, corporations and foreign delegations — have toured the Rouge since its transformation in 2003, helping to popularize green roofs across the U.S. According to the non-profit association, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, the number of green roofs in America grew 80 percent between 2004 and 2005, increased again by 25 percent in 2006 and by 30 percent in 2007.

Some of the best known green roof projects of the past five years include California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Ark., The Bank of America Tower in New York City, Millennium Park and McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, and Howard Hughes Medical Center in Dulles, Va.

A Living Laboratory
The Rouge team continues to build on sustainability commitments, particularly its recycling efforts. In 2007, the plant’s recycled paper, pallets, cardboard, concrete and scrap metal equaled the landfill disposal needs of a community of 159,580 Americans or the annual electricity needs of 21,427 homes, or enough gasoline for 426,799 miles of driving.

During the assembly process at Rouge’s Dearborn Truck Plant, recyclable packing materials for parts, including cardboard, plastic caps or clips, paper and metal pins and screws, are collected in designated containers. Some of the materials are returned to the suppliers for reuse, while other materials are recycled. The plant is recycling more than five pounds of packing materials per vehicle, and has improved its recycling by 37 percent since 2004.


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