We all hope Detroit will get back on track and become the thriving city that it once was, and one Troy couple has joined the effort to make that hope a reality.
<---- Check out pictures of the Green Garage on the side tab.
Tom and Peggy Brennan of Troy invested their retirement money and bought a warehouse in Detroit's midtown. Like so many other relics in the city, the building has a storied past. It originally served as a Ford Model-T showroom in the 1920's, and is on the National Registry list of historical places. In it's later years, the building was falling apart and being used as a warehouse.
While most of us would have written it off as another eyesore, the Brennans had a vision and saw an opportunity to do some good.
They purchased the building in 2008 and began its "green" reconstruction shortly thereafter. Their vision was to create a place for Detroiters to educate themselves on environmental construction and "green" business practices. They named their building the "Green Garage."
The Green Garage is finishing the final construction phase of development and will have businesses moving into the space by the end of this summer. There will be between five and eight environmentally focused companies starting up their businesses in the Green Garage, which will result in more Detroit jobs.
One of the companies moving into the building plans to build furniture; but not the kind you'd find at any store. Their merchandise will be made from wood and other materials they gather from abandoned homes in Detroit. The entrepreneur plans to purchase the materials from the rightful owners, such as the city or a bank. To make the furniture more meaningful, the owner plans to engrave the house address that the materials came from right onto the furniture. He also plans to include a brief history of the home the material came from so the owner of the furniture can own a small piece of Detroit's history.
The environmental components of the building can be seen inside and out. Solar panels on the roof heat and cool the entire building. Rain water is collected from the roof and parking lot then saved in tanks to water plants. And those are only two of many green initiatives the Brennans took.
Once you walk into the Green Garage you will notice that everything looks new, but look a little closer. Nearly all materials inside the Green Garage are recycled from the building as well as buildings around Detroit.
The Green Garage added an indoor bike rack and a shower to their building plans as well. "If we are encouraging employees to bike into work here, it only makes sense that we give them everything they need to truly be green" Mrs. Brennan told me.
After taking countless green initiatives, the building is labeled as a "zero-energy" structure. That means that the Green Garage produces the same amount of energy that they use. After an energy modeling estimate was completed, it was determined that the heating costs for the 12,000 square foot structure would only be $300 per year.
So what is the best way that you can make an impact on the environment? The Brennans say the best thing you can do is live close to where you work. "The environmental impact of commuting to work is astronomical," Brennan says. They are putting their advice into action and starting their next big project in the D. The couple purchased an apartment building a few blocks from the Green Garage and plans yet another "green" renovation for that building. They hope that employees of the Green Garage will decide to live in that apartment building and walk to work.
**Using full disclosure, I feel it is worthwhile to note that the Brennan Family is a distant relative of mine.