Green Team

A business incubation center in Detroit practices what it preaches.


Published:

In a building in Midtown that once showcased Ford Model Ts, a unique operation aims to move businesses, and their communities, into the future.

Aptly named the Green Garage, the venture by Tom and Peggy Brennan, launched last October, offers office and workshop space to entrepreneurs who are developing sustainable business ideas. The Brennans and numerous volunteers also provide access to business plans, funding sources, and community connections — all while developing and promoting environmentally friendly practices. 

“There is, in society, an idea that business and the environment need to be on two ends of the spectrum,” says Tom, a former management consultant. “You’re helping the environment or you’re making money, but you can’t do both. We reject that philosophy.”

Following Tom’s retirement in 2001, he and his wife spent several years researching environmental sustainability before making plans to establish a green demonstration center. After looking for property in Ann Arbor, the Brennans came across a vacant brick building on Second Avenue, north of Canfield, near Wayne State University. Following more than two years of renovation, the building now serves as a model of efficiency, using net-zero energy systems and recycled materials.

It also abuts Detroit’s first green alley, a pedestrian thoroughfare made up of recycled paving stones and featuring gardens nourished by collected rainwater and low-voltage lighting. The alley was funded and overseen by Green Garage, Motor City Brewing Works, and the University Cultural Center Association, now operating as Midtown Detroit Inc.    

After the building and alley were completed, the Brennans began to help businesses achieve a triple bottom-line. “With the same action, with the same core activity that is in the building, (entrepreneurs) are able to gain a yield or a profit economically, are able to raise up their community, and are able to help save the planet,” Tom says. “So this is different than a historic (business) where you would make a profit and then philanthropically help the environment and help the community. It’s all integrated.”

Chad Dickinson, who builds furniture using natural materials, says the Green Garage has become a second home. “I have been developing my business sustainably for the last five years and I was really hungry to find a community of people who are doing that,” says Dickinson, principal of Dickinson by Design. Other businesses that have tapped into the green business incubator include Final Five Productions and Mend LLC.

The Brennans are still figuring out the best operating methods for their business. “This place is still a lab,” Peggy says. “We don’t want to control other people and make the change; we just want to promote the change.” db

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Fantasy Relief

A local entrepreneur mounts a comeback from the 2008 global recession.

Double Duty

Bonner C. Upshaw III was a professional on the hardwood; now he's in the corporate suite.

Touchdown

Former University of Michigan football trainer, Mike Barwis, uses his knowledge to help athletes prevent and overcome injuries

PDA Q&A: Michael Angelo Caruso, E-Interview

Interview with owner of Edison House in Royal Oak.

Virtual Studio

Clawson's Deep Canvas is using virtual reality to create product prototypes.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Macomb Township-based Baker Industries Debuts Largest Power Mill in U.S.
    Baker Industries in Macomb Township today announced it has finished the ground work for its Emco...
  2. Urban Land Institute to Host Global Spring Meeting in Detroit
    The Urban Land Institute (ULI), a global real estate organization with 40,000-plus members...
  3. City Club Apartments Break Ground on Luxury Apartment Community Along Washington Blvd. in Downtown Detroit
    Farmington Hills-based City Club Apartments broke ground today on City Club Apartments — CBD...
  4. Detroit’s Huron Capital Creates HVAC Industry Platform With Acquisition of Pueblo Mechanical and Controls Inc.
    Detroit-based capital investment firm Huron Capital today announced the acquisition of...
  5. FCA US to Invest $1B+ in Michigan Plant, Add 2,500 New Jobs and Pay $2,000 Bonus to U.S. Employees
    Auburn Hills-based automaker FCA US today announced a $1 billion investment to modernize the...
  6. Ann Arbor-based Amcor Rigid Plastics Debuts Shatterproof Wine Bottles
    Amcor Rigid Plastics in Ann Arbor today announced it has introduced portable, lightweight wine...