Detroit ‘Container’ Home to be Built From GM Plant Scrap Materials


Plans are underway to create a 320-square-foot home — made almost entirely of scrap materials from General Motors’ plants — near I-75 and E. Grand Blvd., it was announced today. The effort is a collaboration between GM, the nonprofit Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, TAKD Design, and Integrity Building Group.

Known as a shipping container home, the dwelling will use sound-deadening vehicle insulation for wall insulation; plywood from large shipping containers for interior wall cladding and furniture components; wood pallets for furniture; and Chevrolet Volt battery cases for bird houses and planter boxes.

“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,” says Doneen McDowell, manager at General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant. Skilled labor from UAW Local 22 and other employee volunteers will construct the building near the nonprofit’s headquarters in the New Center neighborhood.

Once complete, the home — to feature two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen — will be occupied year-round by a caretaker who will manage the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative’s garden and use the vacant land for agricultural research activities. This will be the city’s first occupied shipping container homestead, McDowell says.

“The home really started as a long-term vision, says Darin McLeskey, co-founder and vice president of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative. “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.”

Since 2011, the GM Foundation has donated more than $200,000 through its Plant City Grants program. Other grant recipients this year include Hamtramck Community Initiative, Winning Futures, and Beyond Basics.

IN OTHER GENERAL MOTORS NEWS, the UAW-GM Center for Human Resouces will host a fundraising concert that benefits the Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation on Saturday. The concert, part of a year-long anti-bullying campaign, will feature teen recording artists J Ryan of San Antonio; Faith Marie Shirley of San Antonio; Collin Kozola of Naperville, Ill.; Katie Akin of Atlanta; and RebelMann of Chicago. Tickets — available in advance by calling 810-441-9170 —are $10 for adults, $5 for children 6-12, and free for children under six. For more information, visit

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