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With little fanfare, Detroit has been changing and changing fast. Most everyone agrees it is on the rebound and as an example of what’s happening, many point to the city’s Midtown Green Garage.
The Midtown Green Garage is a former Model T showroom, built in 1920 during a boom time in Detroit. It has been converted into office and workshop space for Green businesses in the Detroit area.
Renovation started more than nine years ago under the leadership of the building owners, Tom and Peggy Brennan. “We are committed to historic renovation, Green businesses, the triple bottom line, and Green building practices,” according to the Brennan’s. “Today, we have more than 50 small businesses as tenants along with nonprofit organizations and independent professionals that call the Midtown Green Garage their business home.”
The Making of the Midtown Green Garage
When the Brennans took over the building, the first thing they did is redesign it to be as green as possible. “We took advantage of passive design principles that, for instance, use sunlight to keep the building light without turning on electric lights. We also installed solar thermal heating panels, and [did] extensive repurposing of materials in the construction.”
As a result, the facility now uses about a tenth of the energy of a traditional, comparable office building, a tenth of the water, and generates a tenth of the waste.
While the building is more than a century old, the owners also went out of their way to ensure it meets all the needs of a state-of-the-art, 21st century office facility. Along with super fast Wi-Fi, the building includes a variety of electronic office technologies that cater to today’s business needs.
Because the Brennan’s mentioned they managed to cut water consumption to a tenth of what a comparable building would use, we wanted to know how this was accomplished. Among the steps taken were to plant native vegetation around the structure. This strategy typically results in reduced water consumption.
In the restrooms, only highly efficient fixtures were installed. This includes toilets and faucets. However, they went a step further when it came to the urinals. The Brennan’s decided to install no-water urinals, manufactured by Waterless Co., Inc. As the name implies, these urinals use no water at all.
“It’s not surprising they were able to reduce water consumption so dramatically,” says Klaus Reichardt, CEO, and Founder of Waterless Co., Inc. “Just one waterless urinal can reduce water consumption by as much as 35,000 gallons of water per year. This can have a dramatic impact [on water consumption] in a mid-sized building such as this.”
Further, because of what is called the energy/water nexus, this can also help reduce energy costs. We must always remember that it takes energy to deliver, remove, treat, and store water. Using less water invariably translates into reducing operating costs.
“As we enter our 9th year in business, we are so proud of what we have accomplished,” says Tom Brennan. “We have created a vibrant business community that shares our values, is helping our local community, and making the new Detroit a better and healthier city to live in.”
Klaus Reichardt is CEO and founder of Waterless Co, Inc, Vista, Calif. Reichardt founded the company in 1991 with the goal of establishing a new market segment in the plumbing fixture industry with water efficiency in mind. Reichardt is a frequent writer and presenter, discussing water conservation issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.