GM Plant to Help Build First Shipping Container Homestead

GM Plant to Help Build First Shipping Container Homestead

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General Motors' Detroit Hamtramck Assembly plant is collaborating with Detroit nonprofit Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, or MUFI, of Detroit to help build the city's first occupied shipping container homestead. The 40-feet long, eight-feet wide and 10-feet tall container home will be constructed of 85 percent scrap materials donated by General Motors and build in part by employee volunteers. The reclaimed container will be used by MUFI on their plot of land in Detroit to demonstrate the effectiveness of reused material on dwelling oriented toward urban agriculture. The project is in collaboration with TAKD Design ( and Integrity Building Group of Detroit ( (Rendering by TAKD Design)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 1:10pm

CONTENT: Press Release

DETROIT, April 30, 2014 /3BL Media/ – General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant is collaborating with Detroit nonprofit Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) to help build the city’s first occupied shipping container homestead.

The home will be constructed of 85 percent scrap materials donated by GM and built in part by employee volunteers. The project is in collaboration with TAKD Design and Integrity Building Group of Detroit.

“This innovative project allows our facility to give back even more and be an integrated community partner while reusing materials that would otherwise be discarded,” said Doneen McDowell, Detroit-Hamtramck plant manager. “MUFI’s plan to reinvent urban agriculture is a creative approach that helps Detroit’s renaissance in a sustainable, efficient manner.”

The container home is about 40 feet long, eight feet wide and 10 feet tall. When completed this spring, the home will feature 320 square feet of living space with two bedrooms, a bathroom and kitchen. TAKD Design led the aesthetics and Integrity Building Group developed the build plans and will oversee construction.

MUFI will use the reclaimed container to demonstrate the effectiveness of repurposed materials on dwellings oriented toward urban agriculture. A university student caretaker will live year-round in the home and manage the farm while using the land for agricultural research activities. MUFI was founded in 2012 to empower urban communities by taking vacant land and using agriculture as a platform to promote education, community and sustainability.

GM donated many of the building materials from scrap at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, Brownstown Battery Assembly in Brownstown, Mich., the GM Technical Center in Warren, Mich., and GM Component Holdings in Rochester, N.Y. Some of the repurposed materials include:

  • Chevrolet Volt battery cases will be reused as bird houses and planter boxes
  • Sound-deadening vehicle insulation will insulate walls
  • Lockers will be used as planter boxes and for tool storage
  • Small fastener containers will be used as plant/vegetable starter containers
  • Plywood from large shipping containers will be used for interior wall cladding and some furniture components
  • Metal parts bins will become planter boxes
  • Wood pallets and other scrap wood will be reused to build furniture, including a table and bed frame.

“The home really started as a long-term vision, said Darin McLeskey, MUFI co-founder and vice president. “With Detroit-Hamtramck and the GM Foundation’s help, the reality of a home made from recycled and reused materials on vacant land is sustainable for Detroit, or any big city in the midst of a comeback. We hope this project serves as a source of inspiration and demonstration for many other similar housing types throughout the city.”

Skilled labor from Detroit-Hamtramck’s UAW Local 22 and other GM employee volunteers will help build the home on the grounds of Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly. Experienced volunteers will help cut and install windows and doors, run electrical, install walls, flooring and more. Once complete, the plant will move the house to MUFI’s urban garden located in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood.

The project was made possible through the General Motors Foundation and its annual Plant City Grants program. This year, the GM Foundation will provide more than $1.7 million in funding to 209 organizations in 45 plant cities where GM employees live and work.

Included in this funding, the GM Foundation today donated $50,000 to nine Detroit and Hamtramck charities,  bringing its total investment to more than $200,000 since 2011 within the community.

The 2014 GM Foundation Plant City Grant recipients for Detroit and Hamtramck include:

Detroit-Hamtramck opened in 1985. It is the world’s only automotive plant that mass-produces extended-range electric vehicles – including the Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac ELR and Opel Ampera – for markets in 33 countries. Detroit-Hamtramck also builds the Chevrolet Malibu and Impala sedans and is home to a 264,000-square-foot photovoltaic solar array that can generate up to 516 kilowatts of electricity, or enough to charge 150 electric vehicles per day.

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at

About the GM Foundation
Since its inception in 1976, the GM Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to American charities, educational organizations and to disaster relief efforts worldwide. The GM Foundation focuses on supporting Education, Health and Human Services, the Environment and Community Development initiatives, mainly in the communities where GM operates. Funding of the GM Foundation comes solely from GM. The last contribution to the GM Foundation was made in 2001. For more information,

CATEGORY: Environment