BCBS parking deck has second largest 'green roof' in Michigan

BCBS parking deck has second largest 'green roof' in Michigan

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This Blue Cross Blue Shield parking structure has the second largest "green roof" in Michigan. This Blue Cross Blue Shield parking structure has the second largest "green roof" in Michigan.
DETROIT (WJBK) -

This time of year, Blue Cross Blue Shield's "green roof" may look more brown than green, but make no mistake.  The plants up there are thriving and doing their job.

"The green roof of our parking garage here in downtown Detroit has several economic benefits.  It prevents the heat island effect that a lot of buildings get when they have tar roofs.  So it doesn't reflect as much heat," said Andy Hetzel, vice president for corporate communications.

He added that the 52,000 square foot roof makes the building more sustainable.  It's the second largest green roof in the state and one of the first buildings of its kind in the world to be LEED certified, a hard to earn distinction from the Green Building Council, which measures green design, construction and operations.

The roof also captures rain water, which is pumped through a piping system to a 120,000 gallon tank underground.  The company then uses it to water the landscaping.

6,400 employees work in Blue Cross Blue Shield's five buildings in the city.  More than half of them recently relocated from Southfield.  According to their website, Michigan's largest health insurer has 4.4 million members, which is more than 40 percent of the state's population.

"We've been working very deliberately over the years to build green with green in mind," Hetzel said.

A second parking structure at Congress and Beaubien has a 31,000 square foot solar array installed as part of DTE Energy's Solar Currents program.  The solar panels generate enough electricity to power 40 homes for a year and enough to provide 20 percent of the power to three Blue Cross Blue Shield buildings, which helps make for a healthier planet.

"It's having an environmental benefit.  It's having a cost benefit to our company and our rate payers.  So going green really is good for business," Hetzel said.

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