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Corvette to Cave: Chevy Byproducts Give Homes to Bats
DETROIT – An adhesive used in production of the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray may help preserve a threatened bat species in North America.
General Motors found that when processed, the adhesive can serve as a stalactite in artificial bat caves.
International bat experts from such non-governmental organizations as Bat Conservation International and the Organization for Bat Conservation are reviewing the application.
White-nose syndrome, a deadly fungus appearing on the muzzle and other parts of hibernating bats, has killed more than 5.7 million bats to date in the United States and Canada. Bats with the disease act abnormally and wake from hibernation too frequently, leading to death.
There is no cure for white-nose syndrome, but remedies like nontoxic fungicides and artificial bat caves show promise. Saving bats is important because they contribute to the overall health of the environment. A single bat eats up to 5,000 insects a night, which means farmers can use fewer pesticides. They are also pollinators that help repopulate plants and maintain forests.
“We need to do what we can to prevent more bats from contracting white-nose syndrome while they are hibernating,” said Rob Mies, executive director for the Organization for Bat Conservation. “Researchers are working around the clock to find a way to stop the transmission from occurring in caves. This disease is occurring at a rapidly escalating rate and if a solution is not found soon, many bat species could face extinction.”
Artificial stalactites give hibernating bats more surface area from which to hang, thus spreading them out around the cave. Creation of the stalactite is simple; robots that apply a structural adhesive that helps join Corvette body parts are purged regularly to keep the adhesive applicator clean and free of dried material. This dried gunk is the perfect shape for a stalactite, and its use in artificial bat caves avoids sending it to landfills.
Bat projects have been a part of GM for several years, examples of GM’s industry-leading 26 certified wildlife habitat programs and penchant for creative recycling.
The company also creates bat houses out of scrap Chevrolet Volt battery covers that can hold up to 150 little brown bats each. John Bradburn, GM global manager of waste reduction, came up with the reuse idea, transforming the difficult-to-recycle material into nesting structures. So far, 232 of these bat houses have been installed on its properties and in other private and public lands in the United States. A tweak of the design has led to 368 specially designed structures to serve wood ducks, owls, bluebirds and scaly-sided mergansers – an endangered species.
“We think of waste as just a resource out of place and work hard to keep materials in use,” said Bradburn. “Just like our stalactite concept or our bat houses, we seek out creative reuse projects that touch other elements of sustainability such as community engagement and wildlife preservation.”
GM often works with local youth through schools, clubs and recreation centers to put the finishing touches on the nesting boxes.
“It’s important to get kids involved in these projects, helping them to see things not as they are, but what they can be,” said Bradburn.
In fact, GM has been actively involved in many Wildlife Habitats Programs for some time.
GM Wildlife Habitats Grow Across Globe
DETROIT – General Motors has received 15 certifications and three awards from the nonprofit Wildlife Habitat Council for establishing wildlife habitats and education programs at facilities in five countries, including the first certified program in China by any company.
The Wildlife Habitat Council’s Wildlife at Work and Corporate Lands for Learning programs recognize outstanding wildlife habitat management and environmental education efforts at corporate sites.
“GM truly understands the importance of establishing strategic corporate goals and objectives with the Wildlife Habitat Council and working to translate them into tangible and measurable on-the-ground actions,” said Margaret O’Gorman, president of the Wildlife Habitat Council.
GM maintains an industry-leading 43 certified programs and actively manages nearly 5,000 acres of wildlife habitat globally, representing 22 percent of the certified sites’ overall footprint. Features of some of the newly certified programs include:
- A 27,000-square-foot pollinator garden at the Guangde Proving Ground in China. Pollinators – rapidly declining worldwide – are critical to the reproduction of 90 percent of flowering plants and one third of human food crops worldwide.
- A three-acre artificial lagoon providing a natural wetland habitat for migrating and local birds at GM’s Ramos Arizpe Complex in Mexico. The lagoon is particularly important in the water-stressed region of northern Mexico.
- Wetlands and containment lakes used for organic wastewater treatment at the company’s facilities in Joinville and São Caetano do Sul, Brazil. Employees showed students how sustainable manufacturing practices help preserve local watersheds and the flora and fauna that rely on them.
- Bat nesting boxes made from scrap Chevrolet Volt battery covers at Tonawanda Engine and several other GM facilities in the U.S. and Canada. The structures are designed to help preserve bat populations under threat due to white nose syndrome.
Certification requires sites to apply for periodic renewal. Nine GM facilities earned recertification this year, having shown continuous growth of their habitats and environmental education programs.
“Enhancing biodiversity is a business priority and environmental imperative,” said Greg Martin, GM executive director for Sustainability. “These habitats also enable our employees to have a tangible, postitive impact on local conservation while strengthening relationships in the communities where they live and work.”
The Wildlife Habitat Council also recognized two individual plants with additional awards for programs that demonstrate exceptional commitment to conservation.
- Lansing Delta Township earned Corporate Habitat of the Year, which recognizes one high-quality Wildlife at Work program each year for outstanding environmental stewardship. The plant also received the Wings Over Wetlands award in recognition of protecting wetland habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds.
- Arlington Assembly was named Corporate Lands for Learning Rookie of the Year, which recognizes a single, newly certified Corporate Lands for Learning program each year for outstanding environmental education, stewardship and voluntary employee efforts.
GM is committed to creating and securing wildlife habitat certifications or equivalent at each of its manufacturing sites where feasible by 2020.
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