Green Guide to Detroit

It seemed to have started with urban gardens. And now the city of Detroit has created an Office of Sustainability. Big steps are being made by local organizations, businesses and convention centers to make Detroit a greener place. Join Detroit’s green movement, or make your meeting more sustainable with some of our resources.

City Initiatives

For the first time, Detroit has an Office of Sustainability and its first director, Joel Howrani Heeres. According to Joel, the goal of the Office of Sustainability is to foster a healthy environment, vibrant economy and social equity for all Detroiters. But The D has reached several green milestones in recent years. All of the city’s 59,000 streetlights have been converted to LEDs. The city has recently adopted green demolition practices to demolish vacant homes. And downtown Detroit’s largest meeting space, TCF Center, has taken huge steps to make their business practices sustainable.

TCF Center

TCF Center is now a Green Meetings Industry Council ASTM/APEX Standard Certified facility. With TCF Center’s recent redesign, enough natural light comes through during daytime hours to minimize main hallway daytime lighting throughout TCF Center. Also, the exhibit hall lighting uses 40% less electricity. Everyone loves recycling, and TCF Center has placed recycling bins in all high-traffic areas of the building. And on the food side, My Green Michigan provides composting services to TCF Center. And TCF Center’s food and beverage contractor collects unserved, prepared food for pickup by Forgotten Harvest, a local company that delivers food to pantries, soup kitchens and shelters around southeast Michigan. But that’s not all. Learn about all of TCF Center’s green initiatives.

Green Spaces in Detroit

The Green Garage is a former Model T showroom that is now a co-working space and business incubator. The building was designed to be as green as possible, using solar thermal heating and material repurposing. Green Garage uses about a tenth of the energy, water and waste that a traditional office building uses.

Green Garage in Detroit

The Green Garage Building, photo courtesy of Green Garage.

Urban garden in Detroit

Green Garage’s rooftop garden, which supplies vegetables to Motor City Brewing Works. Photo courtesy of Green Garage.

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) uses urban agriculture to promote education and sustainability to empower the Detroit community and solve its social problems. They also hope to develop a broader model for redeveloping urban communities. MUFI’s main focus is redeveloping Detroit’s North End to demonstrate some of the best practices for sustainable urban agriculture, strategies to increase food security, models for blight deconstruction and innovation in blue and green infrastructure. MUFI grows produce to support 2,000 households. Be sure to check out more of our urban gardens.

Eastern Market has been in Detroit for over 100 years. Aside from offering a weekly Saturday market filled with fresh Michigan produce and Detroit-themed products, the market is passionate about food access, running a food assistance and farm stand program to give the metro Detroit community access to fresh food. And their wholesale program, GROW Eastern Market, creates relationships with local chefs, restaurants, grocery stores and schools with small and emerging local farmers. Learn all about Eastern Market.

Eastern Market on Saturday

Eastern Market on a lively Saturday. Photo by Bill Bowen.

The Detroit Zoo was recognized in 2016 as one of Michigan’s and the nation’s Best and Brightest Sustainable Companies by the National Association for Business Resources. Some of the Zoo’s recent sustainability efforts include discontinuing bottled water sales, building the first zoo-based anaerobic digester in the country, and using 100 percent renewable energy from wind farms.

If you find yourself in one of Detroit’s urban gardens, you may see honey bee hives. Many of these are maintained by Bees in the D, a nonprofit organization whose mission is the conservation and education of honey bees. They maintain 51 hives throughout Detroit, which can also be found on rooftops and in vacant lots throughout the city. Bees in the D hosts classes and educational workshops at the Outdoor Adventure Center, at TCF Center and other areas of Detroit. They also have an educational apiary on the Dequindre Cut, Detroit’s favorite bike trail.

Bees in the D on TCF Center Roof

Bees in the D workshop on the roof of TCF Center. Photo courtesy of Bees in the D.

Green Meetings in Detroit

In 2017, Detroit hosted the Sustainable Brands conference at TCF Center. Sustainable Brands is the largest community of global business leaders dedicated to brand value creation through sustainability-led innovation. The group decided that Detroit was the perfect location to launch their global initiative, Redefining the Good Life, which is a push for businesses to position themselves for success while addressing changing societal needs. With all of Detroit’s businesses focused on sustainability and helping the community, it’s no question why they launched this initiative in The D.

Contact a member of our sales team today to learn how you can make your conference or meeting in Detroit more sustainable.


Detroit offers three eco-friendly forms of transportation to get you around town.

Detroit People Mover

The Detroit People Mover, an elevated and automated light-rail system, can help you get around downtown quickly, easily and safely. The 2.9-mile looped system has 13 stations, with automatic stops at key downtown locations.

The QLine

A 3.3-mile circulating streetcar running along Woodward Avenue between Congress Street and West Grand Boulevard in downtown Detroit. The streetcar route has 20 stations serving 12 locations. Tentative opening May 2017.

MoGo Bike Share

Detroit’s bike share system has 430 bikes and 43 stations in 10 Detroit neighborhoods. Designed for quick trips around town.

Biking in Detroit

Use MoGo bikes to make your way around Detroit. Photo courtesy of Bill Bowen.

Additional Resources

Learn more about the green efforts of Detroit:

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues

  1. 1
    TCF Center
    One Washington Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226
  2. 2
    Eastern Market
    Russell Street between Mack Avenue and Gratiot Avenue, 2934 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207
  3. 3
    Detroit People Mover (Detroit Transportation Corp.)
    535 Griswold St., Suite 400, Detroit, MI 48226
  4. 4
    Green Garage
    4444 2nd Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201, United States