Green Dealer Support


Energy-Who Used All The Energy?
November 30, 2013, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts | Tags: , , , ,

GREEN-DEALER-SUPPORT-A (Custom) (3)We are often asked “in a car dealership what are the major users of energy?” Stepping back a little would also be the question of “what are the types of energy being used?”

Car dealerships are major users of energy and use about 20% more energy than the typical commercial business. About 70% of the energy usage is for lighting and HVAC. This is a large cost for dealerships with energy use being the third highest expense in a dealership. Lighting is the number one energy user. Almost all of the energy used by car dealerships is non-renewable meaning it is not sustainable.

renewable-vs-non

Making matters worse, the typical car dealership does not have someone who is responsible for how energy get used. The few that do have a facilities manager are generally focused on providing the facilities required by the OEM and not on what can be done to make the facility more sustainable. Generally no one is person is tracking energy usage and managers tend to treat energy cost as one of those fixed expenses that they have little control over. So no one is working on it.

Taking a closer look at energy use with electricity being by far the greatest cost here are the areas that consume the most.

  • Lighting
  • HVAC-Electrical
  • Air Compressors
  • Car Washes
  • Office Equipment
  • Vending Machines and Appliances
  • Electric Motors and Pumps
  • Misc. Plug Loads

commercial_lighting_14With lighting being the biggest user of electricity the best news is that a lot can be done about it. The EPA has been very concerned about the high use of electricity from lighting and has encouraged the development of lighting that uses far less energy. In fact many types of bulbs are no longer produced or are being phased out.

The two keys with lighting is to use the best technology you can afford and to only have the lights on when you need them. What this means is:

  • Technology-Evaluate what is the best you can afford by looking at the life of the lighting technology you are considering. For example if you are considering LED for exterior lighting; they will last 50,000-100,000 hours. So 10 years would not be unusual.
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Zero Landfill-What Does it Mean?
September 30, 2013, 6:36 pm
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

GDS

In the US industrial facilities send 7.6 billion tons of nonhazardous waste to landfills. This according to the EPA is can be reduced through industry efforts to become Landfill-Free efforts. Going Landfill-Free requires investment and a long-term view. Upfront cost generally decrease in time, with revenue generated from recycling helping to offset the investment.

LandfillIs it worth trying to operate as being Zero Landfill and how do I go about it. These are questions are worthy of some additional study and research.

What is Zero-Landfill – The definition is the ability to avoid diverting any excess material resources in a landfill or other non-reclamation waste center. What this means is no two companies will have the same definition of but it does mean that companies will have the same theme.

Evaluating the opportunity:

  • Begin with an assessment of what is currently in your dumpster or other landfill stream. This means doing what some call a “Dumpster Dive”. To do this you need to go to your almost full dumpster and clean everything out to see what you have. The end result is several piles of material segregated by type or large category.
  • As you and your team sort through the trash and get it into different piles you generally will end up with about four initial groups of; Metals, Papers, Plastics, and Other
  • Then sort down each category to find the subsets and divide by recyclable and non-recyclable. A good example of sorting plastic is this chart that was provided by Western Michigan University:

Grouping

By identifying the top contributors of landfill from the category of plastic better decisions can be made as to how the issue should be addressed. It would be appropriate to measure the volume or weight of the materials in each category. A great video by a company called Burt’s Bees show how this process can work. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HsUlAS0kY8

While all companies may not eliminate some things going to the landfill some companies do make that a reality. Here is another video that talks to that companies success. The team effort displayed in both of these videos is an important consideration. Here is that link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLk01JfBlx8

One of the success factors seems to be the involvement of people throughout the organization including management. We find that this is a never ending project and that the team needs to constantly be looking for additional ways to make mahttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLk01JfBlx8

This activity is definitely a team activity and need to include everyone from the top down. The cost saving can be significant. The marketing impact can be even more powerful.



Solar Energy – The Tipping Point
August 31, 2013, 5:24 pm
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts | Tags: , ,

header-logo2No longer a mere suggestion of what might be, renewable energy is hitting a tipping point, with far-reaching implications. For the first time, understanding the scale and patterns of renewable energy development has become essential to any full analysis of trends that will shape the global energy economy and the health of the planet.

Buoyed by hundreds of new government energy policies, accelerating private investment, and myriad technology advances over the past five years, renewable energy is breaking into the mainstream of energy markets. Over the past two years, the United States and Europe have both added more power capacity from renewables than from coal, gas, and nuclear combined, according to the report. Worldwide, renewables accounted for one-third of the new generating capacity added.

Renewable energy, including hydropower, now provides 18 percent of total net electricity generation worldwide. Meanwhile, biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are making inroads in the transportation fuels market and are now equal to about 5 percent of world gasoline production. And in China, more than 150 million people heat at least some of their water using solar hot water systems.

The economic weight of the renewable energy sector is now large enough to attract many of the world’s largest and most powerful companies, from GE and Siemens to unlikely players such as Samsung and Google. Renewable energy investment of $150 billion worldwide in 2009 was the equivalent of nearly 40 percent of annual investment in the upstream oil and gas industry, which topped $380 billion.

Changes in government policy are responsible for most of these advances. In 2009 alone, 10 national and state governments enacted policies giving renewable power generation access to the grid at prices set by policymakers, bringing the number of governments with such policies to 70. Altogether, the number of countries with policies to encourage renewable energy has increased from 55 in 2005 to 100 in 2010.

One of the forces motivating new renewable energy policies is the desire to create new industries and jobs. Employment in the renewables sector now numbers in the hundreds of thousands in several countries. In Germany, which has led renewable energy development for more than a decade, more than 300,000 people were employed in renewables industries in 2009. This figure almost equals the number of jobs in the country’s largest manufacturing sector: automobiles.

The changing geography of renewable energy is another indicator that we are entering a new era, with the growing geographic diversity boosting confidence that renewables are no longer vulnerable to political shifts in just a few countries. It is also clear that leadership is shifting decisively from Europe to Asia, with China, India, and South Korea among the countries that have stepped up their commitments to renewable energy.

This transition reflects a growing recognition within Asia itself that these oil-short countries have much to gain from the development of renewable energy in economic, environmental, and security terms. For the world as a whole, this is a momentous development, since Asian nations now lead the growth in carbon emissions. Given East Asia’s dominance of low-cost global manufacturing, the region’s commitment to renewable energy will almost certainly drive down the price of many renewable energy devices in the coming years.

Renewable energy is also beginning to make a dent in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In Germany, renewables displaced 109 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2009 – equivalent to 12 percent of the country’s total – helping to reduce domestic emissions 29 percent from the 1990 level.

At a time when the world’s energy headlines are dominated by an oil-stained Gulf of Mexico and failure of the U.S. Senate to act on climate change, renewable energy is a rare good news story. The momentum that renewables have gained in a relatively short time indicates that with modest policy changes, a very different energy system could begin to emerge over the next decade.

The problem with alternative energy has been simple; it hasn’t been profitable. But alternative energy especially wind and solar has become cheaper to produce and is looking increasingly attractive as oil prices rise.

Thanks in part to falling prices in solar panel production, solar power, for example in California, has fallen from 25-30 cents a kilowatt hour to about 10 cents. The reduced cost are led by the significantly less expensive cost of the panels them selves. What has not kept up as well is the cost of installation which includes all the other hardware as well as the labor.



Manufacturer Green Dealer Programs
June 30, 2013, 8:12 am
Filed under: Going Green, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

GREEN-DEALER-SUPPORT-A (Custom) (3)We are hearing more every day about OEM’s and their Green Dealer Recognition Programs. We are pleased to see that several OEM’s have some sort of program in place and others are considering a program. This is a new area for OEM’s to enter and supplements the sustainability activity that is occurring at their plants and offices. Also, considering the number of vehicles being produced that the customer would consider “green” a dealer program helps to align the environmental interest of the  customer, the OEM and now the dealer.

logo_subaruThe most significant program was introduced by Subaru in 2012 and is available to all their dealers. Subaru of America (SOA) is encouraging all of their 620+ dealers to have their “green” performance evaluated and for those that reach a high level of performance they recognize the dealership in a variety of ways. The program that Subaru has launched is much more than just recognition of their dealers but rather is a comprehensive effort to measure performance, tweak green activities and assist the dealership team to move to greater levels of sustainability by identify eco-friendly opportunities and promote continued efforts to move forward.

We are aware of a few other OEM’s who have announced dealer recognition programs in the environmental area:

Honda Enviromenta LeadershipHonda/Acura has recognized several dealers for their environmental achievements in line with their  Enviromental Leadership Program requirements. The dealers are recognized when they voluntarily reduced their energy use by 10% or more, developed water-conservation measures and implemented a recycling program. Honda has recognized 13 dealers and Acura 4. Their program has three level of awards (Silver, Gold and Platinum) with Platinum being reserved for LEED certified dealership.

chryslerChrysler has recognized 30 of it’s dealers for their environmental achievement through their Dealer Environmental Conscious Operations (ECO) program. The new program provides Chrysler Group dealers with the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to ECO business practices and to be recognized for their efforts.

ToyotaToyota/Lexus has taken an approach to help their dealers receive a high level of environmental attention by providing them with support and resources that encourage and help them achieve LEED certification especially when constructing new facilities. By providing this support they now have several dealers that are LEED certified. This addresses several eco-friendly requirements and carries with it a recognized certification program. In the U.S. and Canada, there are 26 Toyota and Lexus dealerships with LEED certification. Toyota dealerships in the U.S. have a combined 1.4 million square feet of LEED-certified building space.

The vision is that within the next two years all OEM’s will have some dealer tie in with their own sustainability efforts to align the OEM’s product, operations and the dealers all into one seamless activity. Just as there are differences today we anticipate that different programs will exist for each of the OEM’s. What is important is that every program be designed as a continuous improvement effort because it is not a goal that once reached requires no further effort. Rather it is a on going effort to always reach the next highest level of being eco-friendly. Doing what is right for today and future generations.

An opportunity for car dealers to be recognized by an outside organization while waiting for their OEM to launch a program or to supplement the recognition that is already in place are the numerous local activities by cities, counties, etc. For example

With almost every area having their own local award it is another opportunity to add to your green wall and demonstrate to the community that your dealership is doing things that are above the norm.

GREEN-DEALER-SUPPORT-A (Custom) (3)Green Dealer Support has put themselves in the position of being the only company that works exclusively with car dealers to help them become “green: or “greener”.  We have been selected by one OEM to evaluate and consult with their dealers. Other OEM’s are in the discussion stages to develop programs that fully recognize and encourage their dealers sustainability efforts. The www.greendealersupport.com website provides ideas and resources that help car dealers become “greener”.



Pollution Prevention (P2)
May 31, 2013, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Going Green | Tags: , , , , ,

GDSPollution Prevention (P2)is defined as preventing or minimizing waste generation, or the environmentally sound reuse or recycling of those waste that cannot be prevented. Common examples of P2 include:

  • Replacing hazardous  organic solvents with non-toxic aqueous cleaners
  • Recycle metals, solvents, oils, cardboard, wood pallets and office paper
  • Replace standard motor, pumps and lighting with high efficiency versions
  • Stopping leaks, drips and spills and instituting preventive maintenance practices

RRRP2 can not only help to meet environmental goals, but also reduce waste, improve efficiencies and save money as well as reduce liability and hazardous exposures. P2 offers important economic, regulatory, environmental and social benefits that can often result in a more competitive business. Being “green” provides a competitive edge and opens up a new markets to others that share the same concerns.

What we find is that the resolution for one source of pollution is far different than another. A good starting place is to research one of the many P2 related websites to identify a local solution for a dealer’s particular issue. From these source documents you will find that a pollutions solution for dealing with pesticide issues is far different than dealing with the waste created by Styrofoam. Here are a couple of links that you might use as your initial source documents:

http://www.epa.gov/region5/waste/solidwaste/p2pages/toolbox.htm

http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3585-17316–,00.html

In addition to finding a technical solution following a P2 plan is a way to insure success for the business we are working with. Here is a high level plan:

Step 1 Get management’s commitment and support
Step 2 Develop a company P2 policy statement
Step 3 Gain ongoing companywide commitment
Step 4 Establish a P2 team
Step 5 Select a P2 coordinator
Step 6 Establish reduction goals
Step 7 Establish priorities and procedures for conducting assessments
Step 8 Designate an assessment team
Step 9 Conduct a waste assessment
Step 10 Identify potential pollutions prevention opportunities
Step 11 Perform technical and economic analysis of potential P2 opportunities
Step 12 Develop an implementation plan
Step 13 Implement the selected projects
Step 14 Evaluate project results periodically and document results
Step 15 Create positive results and learn from failures
Step 16 Modify plan as needed and select the next steps

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Taking it to the Next Level – Energy Use Reduction
March 31, 2013, 7:26 pm
Filed under: Going Green | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

header-logo2Almost everyone is interested in reducing expenses and in a car dealership the reduction of energy use is a great place to do that. In fact some dealers I talk to tell me that if an action does not save money they do not want to take on that activity, at least right now. Well I am all for saving money and the more the better but I am also really interested in all the little things that people can do that are good for the environment and most of them can save you some money. Activities that save smaller amounts of money can add up and the combined efforts do a lot for the environment.

Metal HalideHere is an example of what I am talking about. A dealers decides to make a sizeable investment in exterior lighting and changes the lighting for the exterior vehicle display area from Metal Halide (1000 watts per bulb) to LED  for 20% of the electricity cost. It is a good LED-Shoebox-Light-120Winvestment and even with the high price of LED will have a payback of 2-3 years. Not only that but the quality of the light on the vehicles is better and there will not be any bulb replacement for years, far better than the metal halide bulbs. Sound like a good investment, you better believe it and the saving will go to the bottom line for years to come. But when we visited that dealership on a summer day with the sun high in the sky and those LED lights were all on and burning a lot of electricity. Albeit the LED’s were using less electricity than the Metal Halide but just the same there was waste of a valuable resource and not doing anything positive for the environment. How did that happen, possibly because of something as simple as photocell that is not being used or one that had become non-functional.photocell

There are a lot of situations like this where the little things don’t get done and when your customers and employees see these things it puts the question in there mind as to why you took one important step and ignored the little things.

Here are a few of the actions dealers are taking to save the big bucks:

  • Moving to LED lighting (exterior and interior) rather than Metal Halide
  • Eliminating T12 fluorescent lights in favor of T8 or LED
  • Eliminating Incandescent bulbs in favor of CFL’s, fluorescent or LED
  • Upgrading HVAC systems to later designs that use less energy for the same output

These are important items that reduce energy usage and the saving go straight to the bottom line in a hurry. But what about some of the smaller things that can add up to the same savings. Here are a few examples:

  • Motion detectors not installed in all rooms that are only sometime occupied
  • Janitorial activities that leave on lights when not needed
  • HVAC units that are not maintained in accordance with their needs
  • A process in the shop that leaves the overhead door open one extra minute each time a car is brought in or leaves the building
  • Leaking compressed air lines that bleeds off some air any time the compressor is on
  • Hot water heater lines that are not insulated
  • Computers and printers that are not turned off or put in the sleep mode
  • Vending machines that stay lit 24/7

The point of all this is that reducing energy usage is a combination of the big things and the little things.

If actions are taken that address the big things that is a great starting place. If activities are in place to identify the small things in a consistent manner that is the icing on the cake. If nothing is being done a large opportunity exist.

Dealers work hard everyday to sell an additional vehicle or write more repair orders so they can drive more money to the bottom line. That is what everyone is working for every day. But if that bottom line is reduced because of unnecessary expenses albeit even the little ones, it still does not allow the dealership to have the profit structure that is possible.

So who is responsible and who can do something about this. It seems that everyone in the dealership feels that at best they are only responsible for a small portion of what goes on. In the dealership with the LED lights on in the middle of the day we learned that there was no photocell but rather those lights were on a timer. As the days got longer no one had adjusted the timer and there were several hours in the morning and evening when the lights were on unnecessarily. It seemed that everyone was aware of it but nobody was responsible for it, at least that we could find. Personnel turnover eventually ended up being the culprit. Even in a dealership that has a facilities manager, they may not be aware or in charge of process related actions that could be saving energy.

green teamThe answer seems to be that everyone in the dealerships needs to take responsibly for identifying those things, especially the little ones, that could be wasting energy. Studies across the sustainability landscape have shown that reducing energy usage of any business including car dealerships is best done by developing a Green Team made up of  members from every department. These people working together are able to identify areas where energy is being wasted and suggest possible solutions. In most cases they are not the final decision makers and usually do not have the technical knowledge to fix some of these problems. They do know however that leaving all those lights on an extra 4 hours each day can’t be good for the dealership profits.

GREEN-DEALER-SUPPORT-A (Custom) (3)These Green Teams have a much broader sustainability than just reducing the use of energy in areas such as purchasing practices, waste, selling green products, recycling, community involvement and communications. This team could be one of the most important thing going on in the dealership when it comes to the long success of the dealership. Green Dealer Support’s website at www.greendealersupport.com is always a great source to generate ideas from our findings and the actions of other dealers and businesses.

Energy Star logoSo when it comes to Energy use Reduction a great plan would be for management to charge the team with the responsibility of reducing energy usage by a % during the coming year or two. A good goal would be 10% but even 5% would be a big impact. Studies by Energy Star have shown that a 10% reduction in a businesses energy usage can usually be accomplished without any capital investment. Go to the www.energystar.org website for additional insights on saving energy.

For our next blog we will be taking it to the next step for Waste Reduction. Many companies are aggressively pursuing this with a goal of near zero landfill. It may be harder than a 10% reduction in Energy Usage but it can still be a lot of fun and it is doing what is right for the environment for our kids and their kids.



Plastic Waste
February 28, 2013, 7:21 pm
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

header-logo2

As a country we are generating a lot of plastic that is either disposed of in landfills or recycled. Some recent statistics (2010) indicate that about 12 percent  of landfill space is used by some form of plastic. That number is growing very fast. Fifty years ago it was only 1 percent.

plastic Waste

Here how plastics are made:

Plastics fall into two basic categories; thermosets and thermoplastic.

Thermosets sets when heated and is used for durable items such as construction and automobile parts.

Thermoplastic softens when exposed to heat. It is used for products such as milk jugs, floor covering and carpet fibers.

Here are some interesting plastic waste statistics (2010):

  • Over 30 million tons of plastic were generated representing over 12 percent of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
  • Only 8 percent of the total plastic generated was recovered for recycling
  • About 7 million tons of plastic are non durable goods which includes plates and cups
  • About  11 million tons of plastic was durable which includes plastic in appliances, etc.

Plastic pollution is a problem because plastic takes so long to decompose. A website maintained by the Mid Michigan Waste Authority provides numerous links that explore all aspects of plastic pollution. Here is an excerpt from their website:

Quick Facts about Plastic Pollution

  • A plastic milk jug takes 1 million years to decompose.
  • A plastic cup can take 50 – 80 years to decompose.
  • Recycled plastic can be used to make things like trash cans, park benches, playground equipment, decks, and kayaks.
  • Special fleece-like fabrics used in clothes and blankets can be made out of recycled plastic bottles.
  • Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every HOUR.
  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1 million sea creatures every year.
  • Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.
  • A United States law, implementing an international agreement called MARPOL Annex V, became effective on December 31, 1988. It prohibits the disposal of plastics into the marine environment and requires ports to provide reception facilities for ship-generated plastic waste.
  • Today, Americans generate 10.5 million tons of plastic waste a year but recycle only 1 or 2 % of it.
  • An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash, much of it plastic is dumped in the world’s oceans every year.
  • The worldwide fishing industry dumps an estimated 150,000 tons of plastic into the ocean each year, including packaging, plastic nets, lines, and buoys.
  • About 1,200 plastic soft drink and salad dressing containers could carpet the average living room.
  • It takes 1,050 HDPE (#2) milk jugs to make a six-foot plastic lumber park bench.
  • Every year we make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
  • Nearly every piece of plastic EVER made still exists today.

You can go to their website for further plastic pollution information and action that you can take. Click here to go to their website:

Most plastics have a resin identification code as you would typically see on the bottom of plastic container. The resin number is usually inside a triangle which is frequently confused for the recycling symbol. It does not mean that the item can be collected for recycling. Here is a chart of the codes and what they mean:

Resin Identification Code

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Type of Resin Content

PET

HDPE

Vinyl

LDPE

PP

PS

OTHER

  • PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate
  • HDPE – High-density Polyethylene
  • LDPE – Low-density Polyethylene
  • PP – Polypropylene
  • PS – Polystyrene
  • Other – Mixed Plastics

resin-identification-symbols2120px-Recycling_symbol_svgNote the difference in these two recycle related logos. It is often confused that the resin identification guarantees that a plastic item is recycable but that is the farthest thing from the truth. The number is for sorting purposes.

There are about 2,000 companies in the US that handle or process post-consumer plastic. Recycling occurs either curbside or at drop-off points. Often this is included in full stream recycling and is mixed with other recyclable material such as paper. The recyclable material goes through a number of sorting and cleaning processes until it is finally ready for processing which includes grinding it into small flakes. After further processing it is formed into pellets and shipped to product manufacturing plants where they begin the cycle again as new plastic products.

Source reduction is about reducing the amount of waste that is generated. Here plastic plays an important role as plastic is generally more lightweight than its alternatives such as glass, paper, or metal. These lighter weight materials require less fuel to transport and result in less material in the waste stream.

Green Dealer Support works with dealers to identify items that are being added to the waste stream and may eventually end up in landfills.




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