Nearly every company in the world likes to tout their environmental friendliness. However, sometimes they only go as far as sticking a green label on their product with a name like “biorganica.” It’s hard not to be cynical, but some corporations can actually back up their eco credentials. So, here’s something you probably didn’t know about GM.
The McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve
The McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve is a 108-acre habitat owned and operated by General Motors next to its Canadian headquarters. The Reserve, located on the north shore of Lake Ontario opened in 1990 and was named after GM founder Col. Sam McLaughlin. And, to credit its namesake further, the site was recently certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council.
According to GM, “The Wildlife Habitat Council’s Conservation Certification program provides a structure for cooperative efforts among management, employees and community members to create, conserve, and restore wildlife habitats on corporate lands.” In other words, the program encourages companies to use their land to protect animal life and biodiversity.
Specifically, the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve is home to 400 species of plants, trees, and flowers. Visitors might spot roughly 209 birds, several species of snake, frog, and turtle; as well as a number of mammals including the Red Fox, Ermine, Opossum, and the Nutria. The area was once densely forested, but is now an open marshland. However, when GM moved in, it was hardly a naturally paradise.
Since GM took over the site, they have invested a massive amount of work into the area. To start, GM engaged in a four-year cleanup operation to remove debris from decades of land use preceding GM’s tenancy. After they sufficiently cleaned the reserve, they began redeveloping. They planted tens of thousands of trees with the help of local volunteer groups, but allowed the majority of the space remain as an open marshland. Even planted emergent and submergent aquatic species to feed and protect wildlife in the area.
GM put the same care and attention into building its headquarters. It designed every facet of the building’s construction to protect the local environment. Because the area is an important corridor for bird migration, they limited the building’s height to four stories. GM also tinted the facility’s windows to prevent collisions. Energy efficient heating and cooling are priorities, too. More than a century after the area was clearcut, residents are finally giving consideration to living sustainably.
Remarkably, the McLaughlin Bay WIldlife Reserve is constitutes only a small fraction of the 5,000 acres of wildlife habitat GM operates over 14 countries. It has an industry-leading 70 certified sites with further plans to have all manufacturing facilities certified by the WHC in 2020: “With habitat loss and degradation as leading causes for diminishing wildlife populations, we can play a leading role through initiatives like the Wildlife Habitat Council conservation program in protecting and enhancing habitats that wildlife can thrive in,” said Doug Yates, Director, Environment and Energy, GM Canada.
But the certification of sites isn’t the only part of GM’s vision for a greener future. The company has committed to various other initiatives to minimise its environmental footprint. For example, the company plans to use renewable energy to power each of its facilities by 2050. GM is bringing EV technology to the masses with the Chevy Bolt. And GM also operates 152 landfill-free sites (meaning facilities that waste no material).