10A - Monday, October 23, 2006
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
By Angela Cesere I Daily Staff Photographer
Green roofs are living roofs.
The "green" is alayer of vegetation plant-
ed on top of a building, incorporated into the
roof structure. The resulting roof-plant con-
coction has been hailed as a significant step
toward an environmentally friendly and
economically sound approach to building.
European countries, especially Germany,
have been taking advantage of this tech-
nology for more than a century, and more
recently, American cities like Chicago and
Boston are catching on.
In Michigan, the Ford Rouge auto manu-
facturing plant is home to the largest green
roof in the world. Built in 2003 over what
used to be a 100-mile-long railroad system,
10.4 acres of green lie atop the manufactur-
The plant, called
sedum, is select- i
ed because it can 4
environments and .
needs little mainte-t
nance. Blanketing £
the factory, it does
wonders for power
conservation at the}
"What we have
with the sedum
grass roof is both
heating and cool-
ing, an insulating
factor which is a
huge reduction in
energy costs," said
land, vice president Green roofs increase the a
of venue operations animals, especially birds. Th
at the Henry Ford Canadian goose, is not the fi
Museum. "So it's on top of the Ford Rouge pla
not just the idea of
a grass roof, you're
reducing your power needs."
Not only does the roof reduce energy
costs, it also plays a large role in maintain-
ing the natural environment around the
plant. Before the Rouge plant was built, the
Ford company drained seven million gal-
lons of water a day from the Rouge River for
manufacturing needs - more water than is
consumed in a day in Cincinnati, Detroit and
Washington, D.C. combined.
With the green roof, graywater - rainwa-
ter that has been filtered through the green
roof system (see lower-left corner photos)
- is used directly in the manufacturing pro-
cess, lessening the impact on the river and
the local environment.
Aside from reducing damage to the Rouge
River, the green roof also replaces green
space that was destroyed with the construc-
tion of the building.
Over the years, a variety of wildlife has
made a home of the Rouge plant's rooftop.
Last spring, a Canadian goose built a nest
among the 12 different types of sedum and
moss on the green roof.
Joel Perkovich and Brian Chilcott, both
graduate students studying landscape
architecture at the University, are conduct-
ing research on 20 varieties of native Michi-
gan plants to see if they can be used on green
roofs in the area. Their goal is to diversify
plants on green roofs, Perkovich said.
"If you're able to use a lot of native plants,
you're increasing the biodiversity of plants
that are growing on green roofs," he said.
"There's more value to local wildlife."
roof boxes were
built in the spring
and testing began
in June. At the end
of three growing
seasons, the plants
that have survived
in the boxes are
guaranteed to sur-
vive on top of an
local Bob Grese an
of natural resourc-
es at the Univer-
sity, is practicing
what he teaches
ount of natural habitats for on the roof of his
s nest, built last spring by a own garage. Grese
rst nest to be constructed made the garage
nt. roof green two
years ago when
he and his wife
decided to rebuild the entire structure. The
couple's bedroom window now overlooks
wildflowers and strawberries rather than
the dull rooftop of before. Aside from the
roof's new aesthetics, the filtered water run-
off from the roof system irrigates some of
the surrounding plants in his prairie front
lawn. Both lawn and roof are living proof
of Grese's commitment to increasing green
spaces and improving local ecology.
As green roof technology is refined and
its benefits advertised, it's picking up steam
in homes and businesses. In Vancouver,
the Fairmount Waterfront Hotel is already
saving an estimated $30,000 a year just by
growing herbs, vegetables and flowers on
Saving green never sounded so good.
The Fairmount Waterfront Hotel in Vancou-
ver already saves an estimated $30,000 a year
by growing flowers and herbs on its roof.
"(I)t's not just the idea of
a (green) roof, you're
-Christian Overland, vice president
of venue operations at the Henry
(ABOVE) Christian Overland, vice president of venue operations at the Henry Ford
Museum, stands in the observation deck overlooking the Ford Rouge plant in Dear-
born. The deck was built to provide the public with a view of the plant's dynamic
green roof. (RIGHT) The green roof of the Ford Rouge serves as a stark contrast to
the industry surrounding the plant.
Green roof plants are rooted in a layer of substrate, an engineered lightweight soil such as expanded clay or shale. These materials have high water retentio
and help decrease the amount of water runoff. Beneath the substrate is a drainage layer and a waterproof membrane. A roof barrier lies between the mem-
brane and the drainage layer to ensure that roots will not damage the membrane. The cupped layer (above right) serves as an additional water reservoir for
sedum and strawberry plants. The Greses' bedroom window overlooks this
garage, a much more pleasant sight than a traditional shingled rooftop.