When it comes to General Motors’ sustainability work, it’s not all about protecting the environment.
It’s about ensuring people can appreciate and enjoy it, as well.
The area of land is spread across 75 acres—roughly the size of 83 football fields. Within that space, there are 42,000 pounds of ground-up ergonomic mats re-used from inside the assembly plant to form the foundation for the picnic area. Students planted sunflowers along the route, which also features blue bird boxes planted by a local Boy Scout troop, as well as Volt battery casings that have been converted into screech owl nesting boxes.
But when the sun goes down, the only inhabitants you hear are the wildlife who give this area its namesake. That’s because since the habitat officially opened in 2011, there has been a lack of illumination.
According to the rules of the habitat, no persons are allowed in the habitat at night. But with no illumination, it was impossible to tell if anybody was trespassing.
“We wanted to be able to light the parking area to ensure there are no visitors after dark, but in a way that aligned with our conservation commitments,” said Olin Desonier, environmental engineer at Bowling Green Assembly. “So when we learned about this new generator, we jumped to implement it.”
The wind and solar-wind LED hybrid systems pull power from natural resources, like the sun and the wind. That energy is then stored in batteries that keep the LED lights running at night.
“We recently applied for habitat certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council,” added Desonier. “Even though we are confident that we will meet the requirements, we hope these energy-efficient lights will put us over the top.”
Habitat enhancement is an important part of GM’s resource preservation work. Currently it has 21 habitat programs around the world certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council – more than any other automaker – that total more than 1,000 acres. Being certified means GM is not only commended for maintaining a habitat that is good for the environment, but it can bring in local schools and groups to increase community awareness around wildlife preservation.