Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Green is a Cooperative Effort

Image:Greenhouse view.jpg
Greenhouse view - Green Garage Detroit (from website)
You can't go green alone. Sustainability is an ecosystem concept - everything is connected. It's no wonder that we do our best green work when we share experiences and ideas, and as more of us test new practices and greener ways.

Happily, that process almost always has a positive feedback loop. You know that boost you feel when a conversation and ideas flow energetically and positively, when they come together to clear confusion, resolve conundrums, or create new paths forward? That's a lucky place to find ourselves; it's a place green work often takes us.

But what if you could actually, physically, go to that kind of place.  Well two weeks ago the team at the Detroit Zoological Society and I took a field trip to  The Green Garage. What a marvelous, marvelous place.

It's an environmentally-sustainable co-working space that focuses on triple-bottom-line business incubation. Some day I will build one for independent museum professionals. It's in a restored 1920 auto showroom building. Though it is not a nonprofit organization, community members saw the value of supporting such a project in Midtown Detroit, and they donated building materials and furniture for re-use and re-purposing,

By building in and using light tubes in the ceiling, super insulation, awesome windows, and solar with thermal mass storage, the building uses about a 10th of the energy of a similarly-sized conventional building. The website shows energy use reporting, and they use a chalkboard to record weekly waste diversion success. The members of resident businesses and nonprofits pitch in to help monitor activities, bring in new ideas, and continue taking the Green Garage and their work to new levels. Bravo! We could all live and work this way.

Congratulations to Tom and Peggy Brennan who taught themselves many of their green skills by meeting with friends over their kitchen table beginning a decade ago, and now run such an inspirational place. There is more to come - now they're moving on to building nearby living spaces as close to net zero as possible.

People ask me how I think Detroit is doing. I know Detroit is doing great, and going to do even better. 

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