Sunday, November 27, 2005

GM World Headquarters honored for mixing industry, conservation

Since its dedication last December, GM's Riverfront Promenade has served as a place for Detroiters to relax, unwind and enjoy the Motor City's waterfront landscape.

The three-acre spot located behind the
Renaissance Center, the cylinder-shaped building that houses GM's world headquarters, does more than just offer spectacular views and a relaxing escape, though. The area, composed of a promenade - a half-mile walkway donated to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy by GM - and an accompanying plaza, also serve as home to several varieties of native species.

Although it's difficult to imagine a small wildlife refuge lying just outside the home of the world's largest automaker, it's true - and GM now has the award to prove it.

Last week in Baltimore, the global industry sales leader won the recognition of the
Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) when two areas outside its headquarters - the promenade/plaza in the back and a spot near the Jefferson Avenue-entrance in the front - were designated WHC-certified, an accolade acknowledging the auto giant's superior wildlife-habitat programs, which include site management and employee education on the subject.

In the case of the promenade and plaza area, General Motors took several gated, gravel-laden parking lots that blocked access to the riverfront and replaced them with long grass, 20 species of trees and 30 species of plants - the majority of which are native to the area.

The corporation also replaced the lighting in the area, which was found to have a negative effect on migrating bird populations, and improved a portion of the shoreline by using soft-engineering, a process that promotes fish habitats.

In the front of the building, General Motors got rid of the berm barrier that separated the RenCen from Jefferson Avenue, and planted an oak grove in its place. The once-concrete area is now home to red oak and locust trees, ivy, flower beds and grass - a far cry from the industrial grittiness and lack of nature it possessed before the change.

It just goes to show that with hard work and proper planning, even the most unlikely pairing - in this case, industry and environment - can find harmony together.

General Motors has 780 acres of WHC-certified land in eight locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. In 2003, the auto giant won the WHC's prestigious "Rookie of the Year" award for its Oshawa, Canada, location. In addition, GM's Saginaw Iron Malleable Plant in Saginaw, Michigan, is a former recipient of the WHC's "Pollinator Protector" award, which it received for working with insects that promote pollination. For more information on GM, please visit

The Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) is a nonprofit group made up of corporations, conservation groups and individuals that are dedicated to the restoration and enhancement of wildlife habitat. For more information on its programs, partnerships and award winners, please visit

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