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2007 03 22
Angle of Incident #46: Seminar 8, Vermin And Other Irritants: Part 3
Seminarist Ricardo Wulff brought to the discussion some of the ideas of architect/ecologist William McDonough:

Images of the Ford Rouge Dearborn Truck Plant. Dearborn, Michigan. The plant houses the largest living roof in the world, with pollution eating plants and an abundance of skylights that bring natural light to the plant’s final assembly area.

Recently looking at new ideas in the field of environmental sustainability and “Green Building”, I came across the work of William McDonough. Author of the book “Cradle to Cradle: Rethinking the way we make things”, McDonough offers a wealth of knowledge and practical experience in the revitalization of toxic and polluted industrial sites. In this witty and refreshingly positive book, McDonough gives a clear overview of the key issues with some of the hasty answers that have been given on the topic of the environment. Below are two of my favorites:

“Recycling is an aspirin, alleviating a rather large collective hangover . . . overconsumption. The best way to reduce any environmental impact is not to recycle more, but to produce and dispose of less”. (Cradle to Cradle, p.50)

“ultimately a regulation is a signal of design failure. In fact, it is what we call a license to harm: a permit issued by a government to an industry so that it may dispense sickness, destruction, and death at an ‘acceptable rate’.” (Cradle to Cradle, p.61)

Further on in the book, McDonough studies the power of the roof as an architectural component, in the chapter entitled “Eco-Effectiveness - Once Upon a Roof”. Here, McDonough identifies how critical roofs are in the growing landscape of impervious surfaces that contribute to flooding, heat up cities in the summertime and deplete habitat for many species. His response is to reverse the effects of the classical idea of a roof so that it can provide something useful as opposed to sucking energy away. Hence, the term “Waste equals Food”.

A perfect example of how a roof can be eco-effective is found in McDonough’s work at the Ford Rouge Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan, USA. Covered in pollution-eating plants, the Ford Rouge has the largest living roof in the world. The roof decreases energy costs in the building, houses a habitat for local wildlife, and protects the building from thermal shock and UV degradation, thereby extending the buildings life. All in all, this project serves as an interesting new model for sustaining industry.

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[email this story] Posted by Gary Michael Dault on 03/22 at 04:54 AM

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