Of all the innovations coming out of the revitalization of the Ford Rouge Center, nothing has attracted more interest than the “Living Roof” now growing on top of the new Dearborn Truck Plant final assembly building. Planted with a drought-resistant groundcover called sedum, the Living Roof spans 454,000 square feet (or 10.4 acres) and it is one of the largest living roofs in the world. Offering many advantages over conventional tar and metal roofs, the sedum plants grow in a four-layer, vegetated mat, rather than in loose soil. The plants collect and filter storm water runoff.
The roof also serves as a habitat for nesting birds and provides insulation for the truck plant, keeping it an estimated 10 degrees warmer in winter and 10 degrees cooler in summer, reducing energy costs significantly. In addition, the roof reduces the urban heat effect, which should extend the life of the roof to about twice that of a more conventional roof choice.
Other benefits include:
Cleaner Storm Water
The Living Roof’s primary function is to collect and filter rainfall as part of a natural storm water management system. Working together, the Living Roof, porous pavement, underground storage basins, natural treatment wetlands and vegetated swales significantly reduce the amount of storm water flowing into the Rouge River, while also improving water quality.
Planted with sedum—a drought-resistant perennial groundcover also known as stonecrop—the Living Roof helps reduce the urban “heat effect” created by acres of tarred and paved surfaces. It also insulates the building, reducing heating and cooling costs by up to five percent. The sedum traps airborne dust and dirt, absorbs carbon dioxide, and creates oxygen, all of which help improve air quality. The living roof also creates a habitat for birds, butterflies and insects.
Longer Roof Life
By protecting the underlying roof structure from ultraviolet radiation and the thermal shock (expansion and contraction) caused by warm days and cool nights, the Living Roof is expected to last at least twice as long as a conventional roof. This could save millions of dollars in roof replacement costs.
Sedum on the Living Roof is planted in a thin, four-layer, mat-like system instead of loose soil. Even when soaked with water, this innovative vegetation blanket weighs less than 15 pounds per square foot.