I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of Ford’s modern truck assembly plant in Dearborn, MI. While the plant’s robotics and just-in-time manufacturing facility are truly impressive, one of the things I had no idea about was that the factory is also home to the world’s largest living roof.
Atop Ford’s Dearborn Truck Plant is a whopping 10.4 acre garden, covering the roof of the 454,000 square foot building. Tens of thousands of plants grow atop the industrial facility below, as it cranks out as many as 60 Ford F-150 trucks per hour.
The roof is planted with a tough, drought-resistant plant called sedum, which helps insulate the building beneath, reducing heating and cooling costs, as well as to help improve air quality. It also collects and filters storm water, helping to reduce storm water flow back into the adjacent Rouge River, and improving water quality.
Plants live in a four-layer mat system which keeps them nourished and healthy. While you might think that a roof covered with plants and water wouldn’t be durable, it’s actually expected to last twice as long as a regular roof.
If you’d like to see the world’s largest living roof up close and personal, visit the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. I’d suggest a visit during the spring or summer, when the plants are at their most green. After all, Michigan isn’t exactly a green haven in the middle of January.