Tom Brennan, co-founder of The Green Garage and the El Moore, in Detroit, MI, joined the Practical Preservation Podcast to discuss these properties as innovative examples of sustainable working and living spaces. We covered multiple topics, including:
- Background information about Tom and his wife and co-founder Peggy, and how they came to initiate and complete these sustainable adaptive reuse projects
- How Tom’s retirement plans changed significantly after he and Peggy were inspired by a sustainability project in Monroe Michigan
- How the Green Garage embodies working sustainably in action, functioning as a coworking space while also existing as an excellent example of combined adaptive reuse and sustainability.The sustainability, however, depends on proper maintenance and repair, which can be accessed on their website.
- The rebirth of the El Moore – a true example of sustainable living – and how the current inception pays homage to its innovative 1898 roots
- Details of each of the 2 projects’ novel approaches to making sure each building was as sustainable as possible
- Information on how the Brennan’s plan on addressing the third part of sustainability – eating and playing – via the El Moore Gardens and the in-progress El Moore Seasons Market
- The ways in which each project pays deference to Detroit’s history
Tom believes that while pure preservation certainly has an important place in the landscape, projects like Green Garage and El Moore are just as essential to keep preservation vital and relevant. Read more about their story in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s feature article.
Tom also shared two pieces of advice to listeners who care about preservation, history, and sustainability: learn as much as you can from others by staying connected to a community of like-minded people, and take time to get a project right, as sustainability especially is a journey. Essentially, be practical.
As COVID restrictions lessen in the future, Tom encourages interested parties to come to the El Moore and take a tour and learn more about its fascinating history!