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Bringing in Lots of Daylight and Fresh Air

Natural processes are revitalizing the environment outside the Ford Rouge Center. They also are being used inside the final assembly building to make it a more desirable place to work.

The building’s design considers the needs of people—as well as machinery — a legacy handed down from Henry Ford and architect Albert Kahn.

Compared to the old assembly plant, the change is dramatic. Ten huge skylights called monitors — each one nearly 3,000 square feet—and 36 smaller skylights fill the building with natural light. Energy-efficient glass reduces glare and heat from the sun. On sunny days, the skylights allow up to half the building’s lights to be turned off. This reduces electrical energy usage. Using natural light also improves color perception, reduces eyestrain, and improves mood. According to researchers, people who work in natural light are more productive.

And, because poorly ventilated buildings can induce fatigue, the plant is heated and cooled by an innovative “big foot” air tempering system that replaces air in the building with fresh air every 30 minutes. This ductless system mixes warm air near the ceiling with cool air near the floor to create a more pleasant temperature at work level. The building itself acts as one giant air duct, creating a slightly positive air pressure that keeps out drafts when loading dock doors open. The system includes a one-million-gallon thermal water storage tank. During the summer, chilled water in the tank cools the building more efficiently and cost-effectively than using oversized mechanical equipment. Employees will see and feel better in this comfortable working environment.

Monitors and skylights ATOP THE Dearborn Truck Plant fill the building with natural light.
Courtesy Ford Motor Company.