By: Ashley Maier
What do you do when you want to be part of a sustainable green community? You could create your own, or at least that is what Tom and Peggy Brennan did with the help of a few close friends. After years of searching the City of Ann Arbor for the perfect spot it was suggested to the couple that they start their project in Detroit instead. They fell in love with the first building they toured, and the result? The Green Garage.
The Brennans bought the building in 2008, but it was not until 2011 that The Green Garage officially opened. The name is fitting since the building, which dates back to the 1920s, once served as a the showplace for the Model T. Now the building houses a bustling business incubator.
It took a lot of patience, according to Peggy Brennan to reach their ultimate goal. ” [We had to go] step by step, work your way farther.”
What is the Green Garage?
The Green Garage helps triple bottom-line businesses grow naturally by: (1) using a community-based natural design process to help triple bottom-line businesses design their “Seed”; (2) using a community-based continuous improvement process to improve triple bottom-line outcomes in profitability, waste, energy, water, community wellness, etc; and (3) using 1-to-1 sessions with entrepreneurs to help them evolve their businesses and their relationships.
The Green Garage is currently home to 39 businesses, with 69 people working there. This is much larger than the 13 or so businesses that the Brennans had originally pictured in their space. The companies range from one to seven people.
One of the main goals of The Green Garage, besides giving small businesses a place to grow, is creating a greener community. The majority of the renovations of the building included bringing in pieces that had previously been used elsewhere, such as unwanted tables and chairs from Detroit Public Schools and bricks from a former brewery. In fact, roughly 75 percent of the materials used in the building had been considered trash by their previous owners.