Last December 2nd Green Revolution toured Ford Motor Company’s Rouge River Factory, which is part of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Home to the F-150 Pick-up, the factory underwent a major renovation by architect William McDonough. The factory now has several “green building” features, including a living (or green) roof, rainwater harvesting, runoff reduction, and solar panels. According to Fareed Zarkaria in a Newsweek article, “…Ford saves millions of dollars a year by purifying rainwater on the building’s green roof instead of treating it in an expensive facility.” In addition, vegetation was planted around the site to help absorb airborne toxins.
The green roof reduces the amount of energy required to cool and heat the building. The plant life cools the building by absorbing solar energy (via photosynthesis) during the summer and insulates in the winter by retaining heat. Mr. McDonough’ design philosophy, referred to as Cradle to Cradle, espouses creating objects with the next life cycle in mind. In an article from edmunds.com, columnist John DiPietro looks at the overall impact of a vehicle on the environment. Using the Rouge River factory as an example, Mr. DiPetro compares the Ford F-150 to Toyota’s Prius by looking at the entire life cycle impact of the cars. He also discusses the Extended Producer Responsibility (mentioned in an earlier post), which can further reduce cost in the long run. In order to achieve a higher degree of sustainability, both buildings and products must use minimal resources. The cost savings of reduced energy consumption can then be passed on to consumers, shareholders and workers.
- Eric Wilson