Green roofs to be installed atop historic Bell Building - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Green roofs to be installed atop historic Bell Building

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The exterior of the Michigan Bell Building The exterior of the Michigan Bell Building

Crews put in the building blocks for a rooftop garden high above the streets of Detroit. The green roof is on the sixth floor of the former Michigan Bell Building where phone books were once printed.

The 1929 building sat vacant for decades until the Neighborhood Service Organization bought it and renovated it, creating permanent supportive housing for people who are homeless.

The building now has 155 one-bedroom apartments. Residents receive job training, treatment programs and other services. They pay 30 percent of their income towards rent.

"They moved here straight out of shelters or from a freeway viaduct, abandoned building, into this building and, really, giving them a new chance at life," says Sheilah Clay, president of the NSO.

This spring they'll help do all the planting on the roof which was paid for with generous donations from DTE Energy and Ford Motor Co.

"The green roof really gives the people who live in this building an opportunity to learn horticulture, to start growing their own vegetables," Clay shares. "We know that gardening and landscaping is very therapeutic."

"From an environmental standpoint [the green roof] collects rainwater and helps with the runoff of that rainwater. It also helps take pollutants out of the air," explains Fred Shell, president of DTE Energy Foundation. The roof will also help insulate the building.

The DTE Energy Foundation donates millions each year to hundreds of nonprofits.
Two more green roofs are planned for the future on the second and seventh floor of this building. The NSO is still looking for donors for those projects.

LINK: Click here for donor information

NOTE: Click the green 'Make a donation' button

"We think it's important that we really focus on our environment, not only at the large world level, but also at the local level," Shell says.

When the roof is complete it will be a quiet place for residents to relax and reflect. They'll watch it grow as they grow and turn their lives around.

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