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April 26, 2012 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-04-26

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Green Collaboratory

Midtown's Green Garage houses businesses with a social mission.

Harry Kirsbaum I Contributing Writer


hink of it as one of Detroit's
little ironies: an ecologically
sound, environmentally
sustainable hub for start-
up businesses housed in a
former Model T Ford show-
room. The Green Garage,
located on Second Avenue
in Midtown Detroit, is trying to pave
a new way of developing socially
conscious business in a building that
once helped give birth to the automo-
tive revolution.
Tom and Peggy Brennan, the build-
ing's owners, have been interested in
the environment since Tom sat on
the board of the Monroe-based River
Raisin Project, a Catholic nonprofit
organization dedicated to ecology
and sustainability, said Peggy dur-
ing a tour of the 12,500-square-foot
"We sat down with about a dozen
friends in 2005 and formed the Great
Lakes Initiative, and that group met
at our kitchen table every Tuesday
morning from 10 a.m. to noon for five
years and talked about different areas
of environmental sustainability," she
said. 'As an outgrowth of that project,
we thought it would be interesting to
develop a sort of green demonstration
center for the things we had learned
and locate it close to a university"

38 May 2012 I


When they bought the building in

2007, 200 volunteers helped with the

design, followed by two more years
of construction. It opened in late
October 2011.
The Brennans funded the $1.5
million project, but also received
brownfield tax credits from the state.
They spent as much to renovate the
structure as it would have cost to raze
the old building and build a new one,
she said. Most of the costs were for
The Green Garage is considered
a net-zero building: It produces as
much energy as it consumes. The
outside windows are very efficient.
Solar tubes coming into the building
help light the inside and reduce the
need to heat and cool the building by
85 percent. Solar thermal panels on
the roof heat water in tanks, and the
water runs underneath the floors to
heat the building. Brennan estimates
it will cost only $300 a year to heat
the building.
The interior is as beautiful as it is
"green," with the main stairway made
out of old steam and gas pipes, a wall
constructed from scrap wood, and the
railing an old walkway that connected
the two mezzanines. About 75 per-
cent of the materials brought into the
building came from the U. S. waste

stream. The floor came from fallen
oak and ash trees. The frames for the
interior windows were donated from
a powerhouse in Lansing, and all the
furniture came from a Detroit Public
School warehouse.
'We filled one-and-a-half dump-
sters for this two-year project," she
said. "Everything else stayed in this
There are currently 15 businesses
hanging a shingle in the Green Ga-
rage, with room for another 15.
Shared table space rents for $50 a
month, a desk for $125 a month, or
rent a space for four-five people for
$1,000 a month.
Private meeting rooms are available
and people can work at the Imagina-
rium, a lounge upstairs with couches.
The businesses that operate out of
the Green Garage are socially con-
scious and include photographers,
website developers and healthy food
providers. The following three busi-
nesses have Jewish influences.

Students Get Fit
Matthew Tugender, chief market-
ing officer and director of sales of
Students Get Fit, says the advertis-
ing company "gives you the incentive
to get up off your ass and get in the

SGF provides incentives to college
students on college campuses to get
fit, said Tugender, 25, of Walled Lake.
He calls it "moral advertising."
Once the students sign up, their
fitness is tracked through one-time
login geo-tracking. "They walk in to
an approved fit-
ness center that is
basically the school
gym and work out
at least 30 minutes
to get credit for the
"There are short-
and long-term incen-
tives for students,
from daily prizes
to weekly prizes to grand prizes," he
said. "Short-term you can win a $10
gift card for a salad, but long term, if
you hit your fitness plateau, which is
50 days of working out per semester,
you're not only going to start looking
better and eating better, but you'll
be eligible to win the bigger prizes,
which will be the iPads, the televi-
sions, the things you want really bad.
'We try to educate you on food
choices, on how to work out and
make it habit forming," he said. 'We
just had a challenge that ended at
University of Detroit Mercy (UDM)
last week. We gave away an iPad as a


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