Clean Energy Coalition leaves Ypsilanti's Depot Town for Ann Arbor
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.
File photo | AnnArbor.com
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.
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 AnnArbor.com.