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How Green Buildings Impact The Environment


By Ryan Berlin Green
concept of eco with happy family walking on the field .paper art and digital craft style

Commercial and institutional facilities have a huge impact on the environment. By including green features in designs, building owners not only decrease their energy costs, but also improve the local ecosystem and create healthier places for the people who use them.

Since the mid-2000s, new buildings have been designed or retrofitted with impressively energy efficient and low waste systems, utilizing features like solar lighting, geothermal heating and cooling, and green stormwater infrastructure. Others have made commitments to improvement or are important for their impact outside the building itself.

Below are some of the greenest buildings in Detroit that have the biggest positive impact on the environment, according to Curbed Detroit.

  • The first major green renovation in the city, the Green Garage has been an example for other builders in the city about how to do a responsible green redevelopment.

    The renovation of the former Model T showroom into a business incubator and co-working space took around three years. That slow approach allowed the owners to incorporate a number of sustainable elements into the design that are still being perfected. The building has pex tubing that circulates hot water, roof-top solar panels, high-performance Cardinal glass windows, a super-insulated envelope, to name just a few of the many features.

    It was also one of the first in the city to build a green alley filled with native plants.
  • In 2015, the Cobo Center completed a $279 million renovation—a massive investment in a building that had at one point been a drain on city resources.

    That investment has paid off mightily as revenue and attendance at the convention center has steadily increased since then. That’s in no small part to the green features in its redesign, which allowed it to be certified by the International Green Meeting Standard. Cobo now has recycled grey water cooled for air conditioning, a computer controlled temperature system, low-flow restrooms, a living green roof, extensive recycling systems, and more.
  • In recent years, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History has made a number of commitments to become more environmentally responsible—like reducing its waste output to zero by 2030—and has hired a Chief Sustainability Officer to oversee the effort.

    It’s also collaborating with the neighboring Michigan Science Center to implement stormwater management infrastructure, like porous pavers and bioswales, between the two institutions.


Ryan Berlin is digital content manager of Facilitiesnet.com.

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