Building the New Detroit: The Green Garage

February 1, 2011

As I’ve noted here before, Detroit Lives.

The Green Garage in Detroit will serve as a green business incubator.

Visible from Second Ave. the new three-season room, will have windows that fully open and walls and  floor made from reclaimed bricks.  All new windows, made by Detroit-based Kelly Windows, are triple-pane, made from sustainable wood and low-VOC. (Volatile organic compounds)

Solatubes installed in the ceiling provide daylighting. Old drywall is used as a thermal mass between the subfloor and flooring, providing added insulation where radiant heating tubes will distribute heat.

Solar thermal collectors are in, but not yet operational. Earth Day is targeted for the grand opening of the Green Garage.

According to the website:

The Green Garage is actually 3 things: a building located in the Midtown area of Detroit, a business enterprise, and a community of people dedicated to Detroit’s sustainable future.

The building dates back to 1920, when it was a showroom for Model T-based automobiles, and is on the National Registry of Historic Places (see building history). It was purchased in 2008 by Tom and Peggy Brennan, who, with a community of over 100 individuals, have developed plans for a green/historic renovation, and a business plan (developing green businesses).

According to the Detroit Free Press:

The Brennans have invested their retirement savings into creating a green-business incubator in a 90-year-old building.

Ways the Green Garage is testing green building methods include:

  • Reuse: The building’s old steam pipes will be used with wood to build its staircase. The insulation is used, found on the Internet. It costs 14 cents a square foot compared with 35 cents for new insulation.
  • Drainage under the parking lot that will let rainwater percolate to the water table instead of flowing to storm sewers.
  • Zero-energy: The Green Garage expects to generate as much energy as it uses. The building is to be heated using solar panels used to heat water tanks. The water will be distributed through a heating system installed under the floor — all supported by a geothermal heat pump for cloudy days.
  • “If you can think about net-zero energy on a 100-year-old building, you should be able to do it in any building,” said Tom Brennan, who retired as a senior partner from consulting firm Accenture

    Cities like Detroit are showing us what the future will be like – moving from the unconscious and unsustainable economics of the past, to something much more exciting, much more resilient, in the future.

    If Detroit can make it, then so can we all.


    One Response to “Building the New Detroit: The Green Garage”

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