Environmental concerns are on the rise. Going green is not just a fad for environmentalists any more. Most of the general population now recognizes the need to take better care of our earth through efforts to be more environmentally friendly.
These efforts are just as applicable in the car business as anywhere else. There are many ways and degrees to which you can commit to “going green” in your dealership. It is unlikely that all of the green possibilities are well-suited for every location due to local climates. That’s why it is important to consult a local, experienced professional if you have questions regarding what works in your climate zone.
A truly green dealership, according to Jim Newman (owner and managing partner of the Newman Consulting Group), is one that’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified (better known as LEED certified). Obtaining LEED certification is a significant undertaking requiring millions of dollars. However, the investment can pay off if customers recognize and appreciate the efforts.
Lafontaine Cadillac, Buick, GMC (Highland, MI)
“LaFontaine [Cadillac-Buick-GMC] can attest to this,” Newman said. Their green dealership, which opened in 2009 in Highland, Mich., cost $15 million to build and is a LEED-certified. Newman said they heavily marketed the fact that they now have a green dealership and received quite a bit of free, positive publicity, and sales increased as a result.
Frank Galos Chevrolet Cadillac (Saco, ME)
Another example of a green dealership is Frank Galos Chevrolet Cadillac in Saco, ME.
“We knew these upgrades would have a major impact environmentally and from a cost-saving perspective,” Galos said. “While we were undergoing the renovation, we made sure that sustainability was intertwined into every aspect of operations at the dealership.”
“The environment is always important,” said Galos, whose father Frank co-founded one of the oldest family dealerships in Maine. “We believe that customers appreciate the value of being an environmentally conscious Maine business.”
Suggestions for Going Green
- Upgrade to LED Lighting
One of the fastest ways to reduce energy consumption and costs is to upgrade your lighting to LED. LEDs are extremely energy efficient and consume up to 90% less power than incandescent bulbs. Since LEDs use only a fraction of the energy of an incandescent light bulb there is a dramatic decrease in power costs.
- Install Motion Sensors
Turning off the lights when not in use is another great way to help the environment and cut energy costs. Installing motion sensors in restrooms, offices and other areas that are not in constant use will help in your efforts to be green.
- Make Better Use of Natural Light
Dealership showrooms are generally designed to let in natural light. You can make better use of this light by installing dimmers during the bright daylight hours to turn off or dim lights not needed during the day. Installing skylights and dimmers in your service areas can also have a great environmental and economic impact.
- Don’t Overlook the Restrooms
There are a lot of opportunities in your dealership restrooms to go green. Utilizing hand dryers in place of paper towel dispensers can save a lot of waste and a lot of money. Another opportunity includes replacing urinals and toilets with efficient versions that use little or no water per flush.
- Install Programmable Thermostats
Programmable thermostats can lower energy bills and energy consumption by making automatic adjustments to temperature based on programmable schedules. Programmable thermostats ensure that you are only heating or cooling when the building is occupied and when heating or cooling is needed the most. You can also control temperature remotely as well as tie in with motion, light and humidity sensors for maximum efficiency.
- Go Solar
Solar power has gained in popularity over recent years. Going solar is one of the best things you can do for your overall green image. It is expensive to install, but there are government tax incentives and the cost of solar equipment continues to drop. Solar has the ability to significantly reduce or eliminate electric bills. Solar power that is not used can either be stored for later, or fed back into the grid for a credit on your electric bill.