Master's Project in Motion: The Green Garage

Editor's Note: This piece was written by SNRE Sustainable Systems student, Ellen Shieh.  Ellen is also a member of the Green Garage Master's Project team.   Want to blog about your Master's Project experience?  Contact for more information! 

The struggles in the city of Detroit have been documented over the last few decades. Monoculture industry has dominated the local economy, and the recent shrinking and restructuring of the automotive industry has emphasized the need for a more diverse economy, leading many to wonder what the next generation of business will be for Detroit. Passion and love for the city, Detroiters are looking for ways to rebuild this great city. Detroiters are involved more than ever to lift Detroit up from the economic downturn and create positivity and opportunity within the community. Similarly, businesses are looking to plant seeds within the community and help bring Detroit back to economic prosperity.

One business in particular that fuses community and business is Green Garage. An umbrella business that houses and mentors small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) to build community, Green Garage hopes to foster growth for SMBs within Detroit and help these businesses realize and implement goals that prioritize social and environmental responsibility. Realizing that Detroit has experienced highs and lows with a monoculture industry, Green Garage hopes that a variety of SMBs will become the future of Detroit and develop a business community that not only focuses on the economic success of the city, but also increases social and environmental well-being. Through their work, Green Garage has created opportunities for businesses to become engaged in the community, and create a mutually beneficial economic environment within Detroit.

Working in partnership with Green Garage, a team of University of Michigan (UM) graduate students from SNRE will lead the development of a sustainability consulting pilot program. In this pilot program, the student group, including Justin D’Atri ’13, Prashanth Gururaja ’13, Marwa Kamel ’13, and Ellen Shieh ’13, will act as a consulting group to design a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) accounting system for affiliated SMBs that measures their environmental, financial, and community performance. This program is designed to make a lasting positive impact on the city of Detroit by empowering SMBs through implementing a TBL accounting system unique to individual businesses. The TBL accounting system will encompass social, environmental and economic indicators that will both quantitatively and qualitatively measure their impacts and continuously provide feedback for internal decisions to improve sustainability. We welcome everyone to visit Green Garage, Detroit! Go Blue!