The "Green Garage" refers to a number of things: a building, a project and a community of people working to develop a sustainable business center in Detroit.
First, the building. Our building is located in the Midtown area of Detroit, at 4444 Second. It was built in 1920, and housed a number of auto-related businesses (and was once a Model T showroom) until the 1930's when it was owned by a company called Kanners and Patrize, who sold shoe supplies to department stores over the next 50 years. Its most recent use was as a warehouse until 2007, when it was purchased by Tom and Peggy Brennan to develop a sustainable business center.
More building history
Next, the business. The building houses triple-bottom-line businesses (healthy for the...environment, economics, community). We rent office and workshop space to these businesses, who often work together in what we are calling a co-working community. Currently, there are over 35 businesses-in-residence. Our business incubator helps grow businesses naturally. We also house an Urban Sustainability Library, whose mission is to connect people to the resources they need to live more sustainably. In addition, we support an active Sustainability Labs group, who represent the 'truth window' into the Green Garage. They measure and provide data that helps us understand the building's performance, and help with requests that come from the public.
Finally, our community-based approach. Since our project began in the spring of 2008, we have worked with over 200 volunteers who have an interest in the project and an expertise to contribute. We first hosted a series of discussions with about a dozen people that we called a Foundational Forum, which helped us determine our perspective and gave us a decision-making model. Next came our Fall Discussion Series, which covered topics such as the building design, garden work, our net-zero energy approach, the Green Alley and the beginnings of our business plan. This was followed by a Winter Discussion Series, which brought in new topics, such as water, materials, food, transportation and security. In each of these sessions, we benefited from the work of architects, engineers, designers, business people, gardeners, and people who are simply interested in the project. We continue to work on to this day with a dedicated group of volunteers. Opportunities to visit currently include our Thursday Sustainable Business Conversations and our Friday community brown-bag lunch, every Friday at noon.