Green Garage Sustainability Labs

Home of the MADD Scientists - "Making a Difference Daily" ...we hope!!!

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Demystifying RADON: Here’s to your Long-Term Health

The EPA designated January as Radon Action Month, and the State of Michigan joined in the campaign this year, trying to get the word out about the dangers of radon and what can be done about it. But even with that elevated effort, I think there may be plenty of us still out there that are mystified by radon. What the heck is it?  Where does it come from? Why should we care?

In an effort to make information available that will adequately inform you without making your head hurt (too much!), we have collected some links that should help answer these questions and also provide you with a resource to easily get test kits to check out your own situation (at a reduced cost for Michigan residents).  Here are the links:

A Citizen’s Guide to Radon can be found at 

Link to EPA general information is

Link to the State of Michigan program overview  is,4561,7-135-3310_4105_4196-11722—,00.html

Here’s where you can order test kits at reduced rates in cooperation with the State of Michigan 

The history and potential of finding radon if you are in Michigan is highlighted at,4561,7-135-3310_4105_4196-10497—,00.html 

Resources - links to further info on radon from the State of Michigan,4561,7-135-3310_4105_4196-127015—,00.html 

EPA Map of Radon Zones

Please take a few minutes to learn more about radon, then order your test kit. The test is easy, doesn’t cost too much, and doesn’t take a lot of time, but it could make a big difference in you and your family’s long-term health.

Click here to learn more about the Green Garage and Sustainability Labs.

Filed under radon lungcancer

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Detroit Zoo: Go green | Crain's Detroit Business

Couldn’t resist passing this on regarding the Detroit Zoo’s efforts toward a sustainable future. Please follow the link above to take a look at what they are doing.  

Two things really impressed me in the article. First, the zoo folks really appear to be looking at the world impact and ramifications for the future, not just bottom line impact. Even though some of their green initiatives negatively impact their revenue stream, they are still going for the sustainable choices and finding ways to offset the loss in those areas so that they can make things better for the future ultimately. Not everyone is willing to do that type of work (yet), so it is inspiring to hear of in a place as unique and challenging as a zoo.  If they can do it…

From left: Detroit Zoo staffers Sarah Popp, COO Gerry VanAcker and Scott Carter in the heart of the Arctic Ring of Life.

The second thing that impressed me is that they seem to understand that this is an on-going, long-term commitment to be sustainable, not a one-time exercise in energy efficiency improvements to produce some measure of savings. They understand and articulate that now that they have taken care of the “easy” items that did not really impact operations much, that now they must dig deeper and evolve to be truly “green”.  I’m happy to have supported the zoo and plan to continue to do so with this type of responsible leadership seemingly creating a bright future for our community.

Nice work, Detroit Zoo!

Filed under sustainability

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GG Rainwater Rubber Ducky Derby - First Friday Rain

We have a great rainwater collection system on our future roof garden at the Green Garage. The system collects rainwater from the large, barrel roof with a small dam that directs the water to a collector, then sends it across the roof garden through a series of gutters where it ends up in a large storage tank on the lower flat roof. From the tank, the rainwater is piped down to our gardens, and with the tank being overhead, the water is under pressure down below so that we can just hook up a hose and water our plants when needed without using city water.

In order to study the rate of water collection and have some fun in the process, the Labs has decided to host a Rubber Ducky Derby the first Friday afternoon that we have rain at the garage during one of our normal Labs Sessions, which are Fridays from 1:30 p.m. to around 3:30 p.m. It’s really all in fun, but we are pretending to also get some data on how fast the water is flowing while we are having the fun, and in process, we may actually find some interesting observations on how fast our tanks fill up.

This video is a preliminary time trial for the Green Garage Rubber Ducky Derby where a couple of our MADD scientists brought their entries into the derby in to test the “track”. Take a look!

Part of our real rainwater experiment is to monitor how much water our plants take and to develop a sense of what really works in an urban environment like ours when we want to avoid using city water for any watering needs. The Labs are collaborating with the Garden Group to help figure this out. The Garden Group will then inform the Urban Sustainability Library so that we have information and hopefully some good recommendations when people inquire about what native Michigan plants are good in an urban area like Detroit.

For more information, visit


Filed under green sustainablity rainwater