Sundance's The Green episode #2: Waste = Food, and how Ford fits in

While not as specifically auto-related as episode #1 (which aired last week and is probably widely available as reruns on the Sundance Channel or online; my review is here), the second week of The Green does bring the automotive and green/environmental worlds together again.

Called "Waste = Food," the film (much shorter than A Crude Awakening and not as powerful), features a segment about the greening of the Ford Rouge Center, where the first Ford was built 80 years ago, was long the site of serious environmental pollution. A $2 billion, 20-year project to clean up the Rouge River site, called the Heritage Project, started in 2000. The project was the result of a meeting between Bill Ford and Bill McDonough, and environmental architect who is interviewed extensively in the film.

What's quite enlightening is Timothy O'Brien, deputy chief of staff at Ford Motor Company, describes the initial dismissal he (and others at Ford) gave when they first met McDonough and others behind the project, people who wore berets and bowties. O'Brien says he has no time for dreamers, just for people who are inspired and go out and make things happen. McDonough certainly did that, designing a plant that uses natural methods to clean water used at the plant, uses sunlight as interior lighting, and was build considering all of the waste that would be coming out of the plant. There is also a meadow on the roof which, while more expensive to install than a standard roof, is saving Ford money by filtering rainwater

During the Ford segment there's also a bit of video of the 2003 Ford Model U concept car in action.

While the narrator does mention that the fact that for decades Ford Motor Company officials didn't give a rat's behind about the waste they produced along with the cars, it drops that line of inquiry in favor of how the company acted in Detroit and then focuses really on the upcoming green future for producers. McDonough says that it's economic forces (not moral issues) that will force company's hands to go green in the future. Ford doesn't get a pass on 80 years of pollution by investing in one clean showcase plant, but as an inspiration, the Rogue River plant works just fine.

Other companies in the film include Nike and Rohner. You can watch a bit here.

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