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Posted on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Clean Energy Coalition leaves Ypsilanti's Depot Town for Ann Arbor

By Tom Perkins

Three years of “exponential growth” is driving a Clean Energy Coalition decision to move from Ypsilanti’s Depot Town to a new, larger office in Ann Arbor, its executive director said.

The nonprofit recently signed a three-year lease at 924 North Main Street on Ann Arbor’s north side and is in the process of fully moving into the 6,000-square-foot space.

CEC Executive Director Sean Reed said the group had simply outgrown the available space in its Depot Town offices and that the organization wanted to consolidate two different offices into one. Reed was the sole employee when he set up at 44 East Cross Street in 2006, and he anticipates employing 20 people by the end of the year.


Sean Reed, executive director of the Clean Energy Coalition, said his organization will have space at its new Ann Arbor operation to grow to up to 40 employees.

File photo |

The new office would provide enough room to allow the company to expand to up to 40 full-time employees, Reed said.

Clean Energy Coalition, which evolved out of the city of Ann Arbor’s Clean Cities Coalition, was operating two separate offices. Reed said that was no longer practical.

“We have an extremely collaborative work environment and this hasn’t been the most efficient place for us to get our work done,” Reed said. “Hopefully, we’ll have better means for communication and collaboration in Ann Arbor. It gives us some decent room to grow, as well.”

The original move to Depot Town fostered the organization’s Energy Outlet retail sales and increased its public profile. A growing part of the CEC’s business has been performing residential and commercial energy audits, helping owners reduce their energy consumption.

The hardware required to make improvements the CEC recommends, such as water efficient toilets or shower heads, are available to purchase from its retail division.

The CEC also uses its retail outlet as a Michigan Energy Demonstration Center. The state officially designated the CEC as a center for residents to learn about energy efficient and renewable technologies. That that has meant greater access to likeminded organizations and more resources for the non-profit.

Reed expects the new location will provide even more public exposure and visibility. The building, which is located along a stretch of North Main between downtown Ann Arbor and M-14, is passed by about 25,000 cars daily, Reed said.

Additionally, the new building is within several miles of most employees’ homes, and Reed said the option of commuting to work by some other means than a car is appealing to most CEC staff.

While the group’s retail sales have been growing, one of its core roles is functioning as a grant administrator. In that capacity, the CEC has also seen significant growth.

In 2009 the group received a $15 million federal economic stimulus grant to help companies and large organizations throughout Michigan buy alternative fuel vehicles and install clean fueling stations.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 924_North_Main.jpg

924 North Main Street in Ann Arbor.

The CEC secured $25 million in matching grants from partner organizations for the project, which has allowed those groups to help acquire over 500 "advanced technology" vehicles and install 50 fueling stations statewide.

In another core role, the CEC now partners with 40 municipalities statewide on energy-efficiency projects and operates Clean Cities programs in much of southeast Michigan and 11 counties in west Michigan.

Reed is particularly happy that the organization's growth involves adding more employees.

“The role that the organization has taken as a provider of jobs … is something I feel is important in Michigan and I intend to keep pushing that as much as I can," he said.

Although the CEC only signed a three-year lease, Reed said he expects to be at the space much longer. One of the reasons 924 North Main was selected was because local real estate developer Peter Allen owns it, Reed said, and Allen’s ideologies are in line with those of the CEC. Allen called the building sustainable and unique.

The building was erected in 1933 and housed the Arnet Monument Works gravestone manufacturers. Allen said he purchased and renovated it 10 years ago, and it’s part of a five-building cluster he owns along the Huron River called the Riverfront and Argo Pond Collection.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for



Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

c'mon folks. this is a fine organization that would be welcome in any community. it is unfortunate that ypsi lost such a good group, but let's not base criticism on speculation; the criticism i've read herein is a disservice to all, not just the leaders and employees at the CEC. my understanding is that the CEC is instrumental in EFFECTIVELY assisting individuals, organizations and municipalities is wisely spending public dollars targeted at my mind this is an honorable and important mission.

Mike Musil

Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 5:47 p.m.

This is too bad. I wanted to go in there but I work, and they are never open past 5pm or so. I imagine commercial real estate is less expensive in Ypsilanti than Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti is very alternative energy friendly I think given the solar projects on City Hall, and the Co-Op. Oh well. I guess they made room for someone who wants to be here. One way to look at it.


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

Alright, the comment deleting has gotten out of control. Political much? I'll re-post my thoughts: It seems as though this organization doesn't need a "high-profile" location--they aren't reliant on drop-in or foot traffic visitors. And, it is only reasonable to think that perhaps rent in Ann Arbor is more than it would have been for a similar space in Ypsi. Since this organization is publicly grant-funded, I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking that perhaps dollars could have been better spent elsewhere. And, I'd also like to know a bit more about the relationship between the property owner and the CEC...since I apparently am not allowed to mention the possibility of them knowing each other...

Tony Dearing

Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 3:23 p.m.

JB, we just ask that commenters not engage in speculation. Thanks for revising your comment.

Rob Pollard

Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

Tom, since this is an organization that seems to exist in large part on public grants and municipalities, do we know how much they paid in rent at their current location in Ypsi vs how much they will be paying now in AA? I assume AA is much more expensive, but I'm not sure. And can he tell us where he looked in Ypsi besides Depot Town (e.g., downtown, off Michigan Ave)?

Top Cat

Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Sounds like a prime target for deficit reduction.


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 3:05 p.m.



Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

Boo! There are plenty of vacant store fronts in Ypsi. You could have found a place to grow here!