Future Vision

DWEJ has spent decades creating a vision of sustainability for the city of Detroit and beyond. We have won several battles over the years alongside our partners and the local community, such as the creation of the city’s first grassroots Climate Action Plan, the City of Detroit Office of Sustainability, the publication of the Detroit Sustainability Action Agenda, and the unanimous adoption of the GreenHouse Gas Ordinance by the Detroit City Council.

It was a long time coming, but now that many in Detroit and in Michigan are finally on the same page about what needs to happen, it’s time for us to start implementing the next phase of our vision for a safer, fairer, and greener Detroit. The work will be challenging – but rewarding. Together, we will succeed.

We want to share an idea that we worked on a while back. It’s an idea who’s time has come. Come explore a rendition of DWEJ’s vision for a greener, fairer, and more sustainable Detroit.

Detroit Sustainability Center

Photo by inFORM studio, Conservation Design Forum, and URS Corporation

Photos by inFORM studio, Conservation Design Forum, and URS Corporation

In 2008, DWEJ and the Southeast Michigan Sustainable Business Forum (SMSBF) partnered to develop the Detroit Sustainability Center (DSC), created to model community-driven green development, symbolize Detroit’s commitment to a green and socially just future, and serve as a community and professional resource hub for sustainability. The idea came out of DWEJ’s former Build Up Detroit (BUD) Program, a trail-blazing program for the city at the time. BUD was dedicated to transforming Detroit into a national leader in sustainability through a comprehensive strategy of green job creation and training, civic engagement, and community and economic development. To learn more about DWEJ’s BUD program, check out our Advocacy/Shaping Policy page. Link.

The DSC’s had four ultimate objectives:

  • Increase public and private collaboration to bring a comprehensive and efficient approach to promote greener, healthier buildings and communities.
  • Enhance quality of life for the residents and workers in Detroit and surrounding communities.
  • Expand the image of Detroit as a model of an equitable, sustainable green economy.
  • Establish credible green policies and programs across the city and region through innovative public-private collaboration.

Sadly, the Detroit Sustainability Center never came to be. It, however, serves as a great example of our history as forward-thinkers, a trait that continues to this day as we continue on a journey of transformation.

The idea behind the Center was to create a centrally located model of ecologically sustainable building. It would be the catalyst for Detroit’s revitalization by providing a new model for urban redevelopment. This new model building would provide space for civic engagement, job training, green business incubation, green construction, and policy innovation initiatives.

DSC Planning process 


We envisioned the Detroit Sustainability Center as committing itself to providing:

  • State-certified job training in emerging green industries and brownfield remediation for displaced, unemployed, and underemployed workers
  • Resources for developers regarding green building techniques and financing tools for sustainable development
    • A center for organizing and youth leadership in environmental stewardship
    • A green cafe serving locally grown food
  • A coordinating center for policy around sustainability issues
  • An incubator for startup businesses pursuing environmentally sustainable practices
  • Technical assistance to businesses that desire to reduce their carbon footprint by incorporating pollution prevention mechanisms and/or employing best practices in their relevant industries that will do the same
    • A sustainable solutions lab for public education, hands-on training and demonstrations
  • A LEED Platinum destination site with public access that will model Detroit’s unique opportunities for sustainable retrofitting of historic structures.

DWEJ would love to see this project or one like it become a reality one day. Would you? We cannot do it without your support. Link to the “Get Involved” page.

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