It is common for employees to see whitetail deer, muskrats, painted turtles and fox on the property of GM’s Customer Care and Aftersales facility in Grand Blanc, Mich. Factor in the wildflowers, monarch butterflies and bluebirds and it’s a nature-filled, colorful ecosystem right outside those windows and walls. That’s one reason the Wildlife Habitat Council just recertified the site and gave it an International Habitat Conservation Award.
“One component of GM’s efforts to reduce its environmental impact is having facilities that do not disrupt the surrounding natural habitat,” said Marikay Scott, director of Real Estate and Facilities at General Motors. She added that the site stands out as one of GM’s best wildlife habitat certifications.
What makes the site unique is that wildlife habitat is threaded throughout the nearly 46-acre property, from areas that touch the building to its far-reaching corners. Features to encourage biodiversity were actually designed into it.
An enthusiastic, volunteer group of GM workers helps keep the site a haven for all species, whether it’s donating butterfly-attracting plants, building bluebird houses, or collaborating with local community partners on earth day programs. In fact, in just one year, the amount of birds on the grounds increased 72 percent, plants increased 65 percent and mammals increased 20 percent.
One of the site’s distinctive features actually reflects GM’s creative recycling mindset. GM Manager of Waste Reduction Efforts John Bradburn, characteristically reluctant to send waste to a landfill, found another use for a broken water softener tank. Instead of scrapping the item, he took it to his barn, and, with his nephew, cut it in half, modified it and converted it into a nesting habitat for wood ducks and other water fowl. The tank is placed on the facility’s grounds by the wetlands. When certain species can’t find tree holes or other habitats, they’re attracted to the structure to lay eggs. In the winter, John said, an owl may move in.
Beyond being a welcoming home to species of all kinds, this site benefits the workers as well.
“This facility brings such an enjoyable atmosphere to the people who work here and visit,” said Patricia Schultz, senior environmental project engineer at the facility. “The grounds are vast enough that you’ll see vibrant colors sprout up during the different seasons. Plus, I think having wildlife outside your window encourages creative thinking and better performance.”
The Grand Blanc facility is just one example of GM’s efforts to increase native biodiversity. Fifteen other sites around the world are certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council, which recognizes outstanding habitat management and environmental education efforts at corporate sites.