Do What You Love: Green Garage’s Commitment to Sustainability

The following is a guest post by University of Michigan business student Aaron Ngo. About a month ago I had the opportunity to embark on a career trek to Detroit with one of my student groups, Net Impact. We’re a community of students who believe business can play a role in solving pressing social and environmental issues (in other words, we love the triple bottom line). During the trek we visited companies that share this same belief and are actively proving that businesses can do this effectively. Green Garage, an incubator and coworking community for businesses and nonprofits in Detroit’s Midtown area, was one of them.   After a peculiar Lyft ride that took us throughout Detroit, we arrived at Green Garage for one of their weekly community lunches. This gave us the … [Read more...]

More Video Oral Histories — Tom and Peggy Brennan

In March I wrote a post about some video oral histories of the Green Garage prepared by Liz Riedman, a Green Garage volunteer and Anthropology Master's student. Those featured 3 of the founders, Don and Mitzi Carter and Helen Bradley. Today I'm adding two more, this time featuring Tom and me. Once again, these are brief, but provide a nice look at some of the thinking behind the design of the Green Garage.  … [Read more...]

Video Oral Histories of the Green Garage

Last month, Liz Riedman, an Anthropology Master's student at Wayne State University, interviewed three of the original founders of the Green Garage, Helen Bradley and Don and Mitzi Carter. The interviews were recorded and are below for you to listen to. The videos are brief, each not more than 5 minutes, but they do provide a sense of the original thought behind the Green Garage project, and give insight into several key design decisions that make the Green Garage what it is today. Hope you enjoy them! And thanks, Liz, for helping us embark on our oral history journey. … [Read more...]

Here’s an idea! (another way to heat and cool a building)

While the graffiti artists are busy outside this week, we're working inside the building on a variety of projects. The one I want to tell you about today is a new (as far as we can tell) way of heating and cooling the annex portion of our building. You may already know that we will be putting tubes under a wood floor in the historic part of the building for radiant heating and cooling. Our system is illustrated below. We knew, however, that this design wouldn't work for the annex part of our building. We are going to house a workshop there, and anticipate heavy equipment rolling across the floor, so wood is out. Our trusty net zero energy group came up with an innovative solution - create a thermal break around the perimeter of the building, with insulation and tubes carrying water … [Read more...]

A salute to the power of the mind

As I write this, Joe Gallagher is turning in our final revisions, and we should be approved later today or Monday to begin construction. We're very excited. One of the final revisions turned out to be some structural numbers having to do with our rooftop patio/garden. I picked up the work from Ike Sheppard in Rochester Hills yesterday. Here is what he gave me: Perhaps you can't read these calculations, but for most of us it doesn't matter - we wouldn't understand them anyway. When I saw this, I asked him if this all came out of his brain, or if this was transcribed from a computer. He laughed, and assured me it came from his own noggin. Then he brought out a slide rule and an abacus, explaining that if his brain didn't work, he went to the slide rule, and then his final resort was … [Read more...]

We’re still here

Yes, indeed we are. We're heading into a big week, so let me update you on our progress. First, the Green Garage news. As you faithful readers know, we have received approval to move forward with construction from both the Historic Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals. This means that our plans are appropriate for a historic building, and we have our parking figured out to the city's satisfaction. This coming Friday we're turning in the plans to the city's Building Department. The plans should be approved in 2 weeks, then we're free to begin construction (which fits in nicely with our September start date). In the next couple of weeks, we're turning our attention more fully to a challenging area: materials sourcing. We want to use recycled materials from the current waste … [Read more...]

What are you doing in there?

Every day at the Green Garage we eat lunch outside, which allows us to wave and say hello to passers-by. Inevitably, one of them will ask us what in the heck we're doing inside the building. Admittedly, the building looks just like it did a year ago when we purchased it, and from the outside any evidence of the activity inside is nil. Rest assured, patient neighbors, we are busier than ever this summer. And - the best news - we are on track to begin construction next month and finish the following May. We have laid out a schedule that details when we'll be doing deconstruction, the roof, walls, windows, mechanical systems (heating, ventilating, AC), electrical, plumbing, floors, and finally finish and site work. So, according to the schedule, we should be doing deconstruction work right … [Read more...]

Hard work, and a break

Some updates from this past week: First, we met with the City of Detroit's Board of Zoning Appeals on July 21st to receive a parking variance, and it was approved. This was a source of concern for us, because for a business the size of ours, we'll need 25 parking spaces, and we currently have 5. Parking is always a concern in a big city, so we had done some investigating, and found a lot that Wayne State was willing to rent to us, close to the Canfield Lofts and most importantly, within the required 300 feet of our building. The BZA accepted our plan, so we are good to go. Whew! In the meantime, we've been busy with the really tough work of this project....the nitty gritty details. For example, this week we worked out the details of the new SIP roof (white structural insulated panels … [Read more...]

A mid-summer update

It's mid-summer at the Green Garage. If you didn't know it, just look at Ike Sheppard's shirt, and you won't have any doubts. Ike, a structural engineer, met last week with Tom, Joe, Kirsten and Kevin to discuss final plans for the roof. The roof will be first on the list of construction projects, just following deconstruction. While Tom, Joe, Kirsten and Kevin are here 9-5 weekdays, the rest of us come in for particular meetings. This month, July, we've been doing technical design work to prepare us for the upcoming construction on the building. The tech design on the building envelope (floors, walls, windows, roof) is pretty much done. On the agenda this Wednesday from 1-4 will be electrical design, including lighting, lighting controls, fans, electrical outlets, etc. From 3-5 will be … [Read more...]

A meeting at the Historic Commission

Because our building is within the Warren-Prentis historic district in Detroit and therefore on the National Registry of Historic Places, we always knew we needed the approval of the Historic Commission in Detroit before construction. So we had Susan McBride of the Commission visit our building last October to introduce her to the project and ask her what the Commission would be looking for. Since then, we have met with her a couple of times, and today we made our official submittal, including architectural plans. If you'd like to read our submittal, click here. In the following video, Tom talks with Susan about the process of Historic Commission approval. … [Read more...]