Matt's Library Work Space

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What is the target audience of this project?

The target audience is really any one who wants to live and work more sustainably, but we do have a focus on the people who will be renting business space from us, and the Midtown area of Detroit. We will be renting business and workshop space to people who have green business ideas (or who are currently working in a green business). We would like to provide them with green space to work in, help them with their business plans, help them find funding sources, etc. But we also will be actively working to help the community around us (and the online community) live greener lives through workshops, events and our urban sustainability library. What financial or social benefits are expected from this development?

We are a for-profit group, although any of the profits we make will go back into the business. We hope to be catalysts to support green businesses who will grow in the building then finally move on into the community. What's the background of your group?

A small group of us from southeast Michigan started working in the area of environmental sustainability in 2005 with the development of a group called 'Great Lakes Green Initiative.' We met every Tuesday morning at our kitchen table in Troy, MI, and began the process of a deep dive into learning about sustainability, and in the process greatly changed the way we lived. One idea that sprang from this group was a green demonstration center (which eventually morphed into a green business incubator). We wanted to locate this center close to universities so we could take advantage of the student population. We ended up in Midtown, Detroit, close to Wayne State University and the College for Creative Studies. We bought the building in 2008 and met for 2 years before undertaking construction on our building. We will be finishing up construction some time in June of this year.

What are some of your biggest construction projects?

We are in the middle of one construction project, and that is to do a green and historic renovation of our building at 4444 Second in Detroit. We are making the building into a net-zero energy building (it produces as much energy as it uses), and we are reusing most of the materials for construction instead of buying new. Please go to our construction page to see our latest work. The reason we are also doing a historic renovation is that the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, as it is a former Model T show room.

Why did you start this project?

See answer to the 3rd question. But also, we had college-age children and had concerns about job availability in Michigan, and thought we'd like to do something about it. Also, my husband became interested in the environmental movement around 2002, after retiring and serving on some boards, including the River Raisin Institute in Monroe that has an environmental focus. He also read a number of influential books at that time, including 'The Great Work' by Thomas Berry, which encourages our generation to pursue our 'great work,' which he feels is to reconcile to effects of the industrial revolution with it's effects on the planet. I joined him in this work right after I finished a Masters of Library Science, intending to some of the knowledge management work.

What is the “Green Alley”?

The Green Alley was constructed in summer 2010. We basically took an alley in Detroit, removed all of the cement, repaired the water main and sewers underneath the ground, laid a foundation of brick, some pavement, permeable pavers and gardens, and planted native Michigan plants in the gardens. The idea is to allow the water that falls in the alley to be absorbed into the water table and not go down the storm sewers (where it will co-mingle with the raw sewage during strong rain events and spill out into the lakes and streams). For more information, see our <a href="">green alley page</a>.


Khan Academy:


List of Gale databases. Includes GREENR (Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources), a sustainability database of potential interest. Includes a list of indexed journals and reference works.


Who: California’s Green Workforce Coalition, organization devoted to preparing a green workforce in California to support economic growth

Primary Audience: People interested in green job development in California (and to a lesser extent, the broader US)

Content: Divided into 11 sections: Carbon, Climate Change, Energy, Green Business, Green Economics, Green Jobs, Job Seeker Guides, Policy, Training, Water. Collection includes reports produced by California’s local governments, the federal government, corporations, economic development agencies, and academic researchers.

Notes: Nice, simple site design; tightly focused and well organized collection; and a prominent link inviting users to suggest documents to contribute to library.

Who: SustainAbility, organization dedicated to promoting the unique role of business within the sustainability agenda

Primary Audience: Members of the sustainable business community

Content: Articles, podcasts, interviews, webinars, and research reports on the intersection of business and sustainability, all created by SustainAbility.

Notes: I wasn’t crazy about the blog-like layout of the page, but it does allow users to refine library materials by theme, author, type, or date. I was impressed by the web 2.0 features, including comprehensive tagging, the ability to “like” and share items on popular social media sites and leave comments, and the search results’ integration with SustainAbility’s blog. (Free) log-in required to view all materials.

Who: SAP (Systems Analysis and Program Development), German software corporation that models sustainable practices and provides sustainability software/consulting.

Primary Audience: Corporate leaders who want to enhance the sustainability and profitability of their organizations Content: Divided into five sections: Sustainability; Performance Management; Energy & Carbon; Product Safety & Stewardship; and Environment, Health & Safety. Collection includes whitepapers created by SAP’s sustainability team; profiles of and testimonials from corporations that demonstrate sustainable business practices and/or make use of SAP sustainability software; reports that offer instructions for complying with federal environmental regulations; webcasts and videos including panel discussions, interviews, and information videos

Notes: While some of the content is freely accessible, accessing much of it requires users to register with SAP (which is free), and there is a definite marketing emphasis on the particular services that SAP offers.

Who: EarthCheck, sustainable consulting group for tourism and travel organizations

Primary Audience: Leaders from international tourism and travel organizations who want to make their businesses more sustainable

Content: Divided into six sections: Case Studies, Video Case Studies, Reports, Fact Sheets, Voluntary Carbon Offsetting, and Presentations. Most content created by EarthCheck. Case studies produced in partnership with organizations that EarthCheck has consulted for.

Notes: Well organized site; high-quality documents, all freely available.

Who: The European Commission, executive body of the EU

Primary Audience: Citizens/representatives of EU nations

Content: Divided into three sections: EU documents, Other international organisations, and Other supporting documents. Collection includes links to EU (and other, non-European government and UN) reports, action platforms, declarations and statements of principle, etc.

Who: US Joint Services

Primary Audience: Department of Defense employees and members of the US military

Content: Divided into eight sections: Pollution Prevention, EMS, Sustainability, Procurement, Energy, Electronics, Fleet Vehicles, Water. Collection includes links to government pages (EPA especially), press releases, news stories, and green organizations’ sites (such as; fact sheets prepared by military organizations including US Army Corps of Engineers; best practices guidelines; etc.

Notes: Poorly designed site that, while it includes a wealth of content, is also not especially well organized.

Who: National Environmental Health Association, national professional association for environmental health practitioners

Primary Audience: Public & private sector workers, especially employees of state and local county health departments, and academics

Content: Divided into six sections: Renewable Energy, Energy Conservation, Water Conservation, Pollution Prevention, Green Building, Excellence in Sustainability Award. Collection consists of weblinks and non-hyperlinked booklists. Links go to a variety of pages, including local, state and national government sustainability sites; articles from various magazines, newspapers, and green organizations.

Notes: A number of the hyperlinks are dead, and the collection as a whole seems a little scattered.