Progress Report: Green Garage's visible evolution continues, targeting April completion

In 2009, the Green Garage teamed up with its neighbors, including Motor City Brew Works, to complete the way-cool Green Alley. This year is looking to be the one that their main project, the garage itself, will be ready to serve its intended purpose as a green business incubator. Significant strides have been made to that end since Model D last reported on it in April 2010, so we thought we'd check in with Peggy and Tom Brennan, the couple behind the project.

Visible from Second Ave. is the new three-season room, with windows that fully open up to the street. "There's a ton foot traffic from the university and all walks of life," says Tom Brennan. "This is a way to informally connect." The walls and floor of the room are made from reclaimed bricks.

All new windows were made by Detroit-based Kelly Windows. They are triple-pane, made from sustainable wood and are low-VOC. Solatubes were installed into the ceiling to provide daylighting in the main room which, along with the windows, reduce the need for artificial light.

A staircase to the front mezzanine and rooftop was constructed from old steam pipes by Dormouse; the wall that backs it was made from scrap wood. On the south end of the building, opening up to the Green Alley, a greenhouse has been built with old windows sourced from the Green Garage, Dalgleish Cadillac and the Ottawa Power Station in Lansing.

Floor boards were made from fallen oak and ash trees and dried in a solar kiln by Lon Ullman, a woodsmith from Troy. The width of the planks vary, which enabled Ullman to use more of the wood, generating less waste. It also adds an "artist's touch," observes Brennan. Old drywall is being used a thermal mass between the subfoor and flooring, providing added insulation and Quick Trak is being installed above the subfloor in a portion of the main room, in all four small meeting rooms and the conference room, through which radiant heating tubes can be run.

All drywall in the building is made from recycled content and is installed with screws rather than glue or nails, which will allow it to be reused. In the meeting and conference rooms, homasote fiber board -- also made from primarily recycled content -- is being installed as a sound dampener.

Solar thermal collectors are in but not yet operational. Most of the heating and cooling work, along with construction of a brick parking lot, will be undertaken once the weather breaks in spring. The Brennans are targeting Earth Day, which is April 22, for a grand opening of the Green Garage.

The Green Garage will be featured in the March issue of Preservation Magazine, a publication of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The building was built in the 1920s and once served as a Model T showroom.

Sources: Peggy and Tom Brennan, Green Garage
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh