I have grand aspirations for what our firehouse could be. A fantastic place to live, a great generator of passive revenues, an integral part of a tight-knit community, a place where creativity and community thrive. But additionally, I’d love for it to be a place that we see as the future of building, and asset to a modern world. These are absolutely my aspirations, but the feasibility of these things may be beyond our scope at the moment. But according to this Tedx talk by Bryn Davidson, we’ve stumbled upon a rocksolid platform from which to start our green building aspirations. He says, “These old buildings are actually goldmines of potential carbon reduction”
His talk goes on to discuss looking at a building’s environmental impact from a larger perspective. Not just the building itself and how “green” it is, but looking at three critical questions. How good is the building? Where is it located? What does it replace?
How good is our building? We have a building that was built in 1902, a firehouse that was created in both a time where buildings were made better, and for a purpose that was designed to last centuries. Our walls are three bricks thick, plus plaster. They’ll carry monster thermal mass. The windows are relatively new and mostly intact. To be sure there are massive amounts of work to be done, but our starting point is structurally rock solid, and can be made fantastic. There are plenty of drafts now, as the cold weather is making plain, but we have building opportunities.
Where is it located? E27 is in the heart of Detroit’s mexicantown. For sure one of Detroit’s most consistently vibrant and densely populated neighborhoods. A huge part of carbon emissions comes from transportation, and that’s critical to looking at a building’s overall carbon footprint. We’ll plan to both live and work in E27. Davidson advocates looking at a location’s ‘walk score’ to assess transportation needs. While Detroit overall isn’t known for having great walkability, Mexicantown is certainly better.
you can see our full report here: https://www.walkscore.com/score/1467-junction-st-detroit-mi-48209
What does it replace? This question looks as what kind of improvement you can make to and existing location. For example, new construction in a green field, someplace no building existed before, is pretty bad on a carbon emissions scale. If you’re replacing an old building with one that is requires much less energy to run, it’s much better. you’ll have a positive impact. In our case, we’re talking a building that has been empty for 10 years and giving it new life. This is better for the environment, but to my mind it’s better from a community aspect as well. We’re making it a safer community by taking care of and occupying that space.
While much of what we’d like to do in terms of reducing environmental impacts is only going to be feasible in the very very long term, I’m pleased to know that our building has a very strong green foundation on which to situate our project and long term life.