Progress Report: Windows, insulation, heating and cooling up next at Green Garage

The last time Model D covered the Green Garage, back in December 2009, owners Peggy and Tom Brennan were chugging along with their project, transforming a 1920 building that once served as a Model T showroom into a business incubator and green building model. Earth tubes and water cisterns had been installed, most of the ceiling had been removed to showcase the building's bow tresses and a three-season room had been added to the front of the building. They've since installed a Duro-Last roof and cleaned interior and exterior brick and woodwork by a non-toxic process of walnut shell-blasting, and interior wood has been coated with low-VOC Defy.

The project is currently going through the brownfield approval process and design is being "taken to the next level of sustainable detail," says Tom. "Our design is solid, but not detailed enough for someone to pound a nail." This process is complicated by the level of efficiency they are working to attain. For example, windows will allow 0.1 air infiltration, be rated 45 R, achieve zero-waste and will last 100 years.

To achieve these standards, Green Garage are working with Detroit-based Kelly Windows to design triple-pane windows that are made from sustainable wood and are low-VOC, a product that will then become commercially available to other Kelly customers. Two prototype widow frames have been installed that are tall and narrow, a design that was common prior to the advent of electric lights. "It lets light go way into the room," says Tom.

Solatubes are being employed to light the main room, and holes have been cut in the roof to allow their installation. One prototype has already been installed and the quality and amount of light it disburses can fool an onlooker into thinking it is an actual ceiling lamp. "From sunrise to sunset, it disburses an even light," says Tom.

A Daikin Altherma three-ton electric heat pump is being installed as a back-up heating unit to the Green Garage's solar panels. It will be placed in an earth room in the basement, which further improves its efficiency -- and is another example of the project's "out of the box" nature, says Tom. "We've really pushed this from when we started, and even when we are done we will keep going."

Last but not least, the Green Alley will break ground on May 17.

Source: Tom Brennan, Green Garage
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

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