GM Plant Helps Build Container Home Using Facility Scrap

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GM Plant Helps Build Container Home Using Facility Scrap

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Friday, May 2, 2014 - 12:15pm

CAMPAIGN: GM Waste Reduction


All of us are trying to do more with less. That mantra is one of the basic tenets in the drive to become more sustainable.

One way a group of like-minded folks are taking this to the next level is through the tiny house movement, which urges people to live simply in small spaces and, thus, use less resources.

Well acquainted with conservation and efficiency, GM employees are lending their hands and knowledge to help a nonprofit build a 320-square-foot shipping container home in Detroit.

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, which uses agriculture in vacant urban lands to promote education, community and sustainability, is leading the project so a university student caretaker can live there year-round while managing an urban farm.

The nonprofit started out with a used steel container, but also wanted to demonstrate how reclaimed and sustainable materials could also be integrated throughout the home.

The GM team, led by employees at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly and other company sustainability leaders, were up to the challenge. They took stock of various materials its facilities would have otherwise recycled and brought them to the construction site for reuse. While not generating scrap in the first place is ideal, reuse is always the next best step.

The finished home will be comprised of 85 percent scrap material from our operations. Bed frames and tables will be made from wood pallets. Metal bins that held auto parts will become planter boxes. Sound-deadening vehicle insulation will pad the walls for energy efficiency. Plywood from large shipping containers will serve as modern-industrial wall paneling. A Chevrolet Volt battery case will even serve as a bird house outside.

Plant skilled labor from UAW Local 22 and other employee volunteers will help with the build onsite at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant – home of the Chevrolet Volt, and Cadillac ELR, among others.  They’ll cut and install windows and doors, run electrical, install walls, flooring, and more. When it’s done later this spring, they’ll move it to its final home in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood.

Measuring 40-feet long, 8-feet wide and 10-feet tall, the house will feature two bedrooms, a bathroom and kitchen. TAKD Design is leading the aesthetics and Integrity Building Group is overseeing construction to ensure it matches its build plans. A GM Foundation donation to the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative made the project possible.

It’s a great collaboration that helps revitalize parts of the city, demonstrates what’s possible and provides proof that waste is really just a resource out of place.

Keywords: Environment & Climate Change | Detroit | Michigan Urban Farming Initiative | Volunteerism & Community Engagement | reuse | sustainability

CAMPAIGN: GM Waste Reduction