GM Creates Green Construction Blueprint, Takes Program Global

Facilities in Europe take cue from United States and roll out green construction programs to benefit the environment.
Aug 25, 2014 5:10 PM ET
Campaign: GM Waste Reduction


Since launching General Motor’s Green Construction program in 2012, all of our U.S. construction sites follow strict environmental requirements throughout the demolition, build and renovation processes. In fact, since 2009, GM has announced almost $11 billion of investments in U.S. facilities, all of which involve plant refurbishments.

The program helps facility teams and partners reduce construction debris weight per project by 90 percent through recycling and reuse. It also helps manage indoor air quality by reducing airborne particles and reducing onsite energy use through rechargeable battery-powered equipment.

Given the program’s success, we created a blueprint and shared the process with our colleagues around the world. The result: a couple of facilities in Russia and Europe are starting their own pilot programs.

Our ultimate goal is to expand the effort even further, ensuring any new construction project no matter the location follows best practices to reduce waste and increase energy efficiency.

“For every project that kicks off, there is a recycling component,” said Mike Mayra, group manager within facility projects. “Every contractor recycles waste from the site and tracks the progress.”

In just the past year, our facilities have recycled 234,867.5 cubic yards of soil and earth excavation – enough to cover nearly half of a football field. Another 77,535 tons of steel were recycled, which is equivalent to about 57,433 cars’ worth.

According to the National Resources Defense Council, recycling even one ton of steel saves the energy equivalent of 3.6 barrels of oil and 1.5 tons of iron ore.

These facilities have also collectively sent thousands of tons of plastics, asphalt, concrete, wood and limestone to be recycled.  Better yet, some are repurposing materials right on site such as reusing wood as barriers and stairs.

“Most of the contractors we work with already have their own recycling efforts in place and are tracking along the same lines,” Mayra said. “So adopting our recycling goals and policies was not difficult. We’re working in collaboration.”

Ketan Desai, GM global facilities project engineer, says this program helps convey GM’s commitment to sustainable practices from the very start of each facility.

“Many of our assembly plants and main manufacturing facilities are landfill-free,” said Ketan Desai, global facilities project engineer at GM. “We’re trying to establish this same mindset when executing construction projects.”