Green Dealer Support


Using a Little Less Water
September 30, 2014, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts | Tags: , , , , ,

header-logo2One area of environmental sustainability that is often overlooked is water use reduction. For car dealers the biggest use of water falls into three areas:

  1. Car Wash
  2. Irrigation
  3. Restrooms

car washCar Wash

The typical dealership car wash uses a high volume of water because of the various cycles that the wash process includes. There are two very big opportunities here; use of an alternate source of water and reuse the water with a recycle system.

We are hearing about a growing number of dealership that are capturing rain water from roof areas and holding this in a cistern for use in car washes. An Austin TX dealer uses two 10,000 gallon cisterns to capture water for use throughout the dealership including the car wash.

Car wash systems are now available that recycle the water used in the wash process. Many of these systems will recycle over 80 percent of the water used.

irrigationIrrigation

Many dealership have large amounts of grass that they keep looking good through vigorous irrigation activity. This can not only use a lot of water but it can waste a lot of water. One example of waste comes from over irrigation either because the lawn is being watered when it does not need it or the water is being applied to areas that do not benefit from the moisture being applied.

Current technology advancements now allow sprinklers to apply a smaller volume of water while still maintaining the grass because of less water being sprayed into the air and thus evaporation reduces the water actually getting to the lawn.

Some examples of real waste can be seen when irrigation is running during a rain storm or water is being applied in such a way that it is running down the street or sidewalk and going into the drain.

An even better solution is through landscape design that reduces or eliminates the need to irrigate altogether. The use of native plants, or designs that include a high percent of mulch or rocks, thus elimination of grass means a nearly 100% reduction in irrigation. To learn more aout water efficient landscapes click here.

fixturesRestrooms

With a large number of employees and customers, restrooms require the use of a high volume of water at car dealerships. Use of fixtures that are high efficiency will reduce the use of water and energy and perform better than their earlier versions.

By law most new fixtures today must be designed to function using less water than their predecessors. This lower volume of water actually comes with improved performance and is a win win situation.

Many fixtures today come with the WaterSense label. This is similar to the Energy Star label for electrical appliance and can provide customers with the confidence that they are selecting. To learn more about the WaterSense label click here.

Water scarcity has an impact on everyone in the community. While the overall cost of water today does not represent the largest utility  cost to most businesses it can be significant. In addition to the cost the message sent by the wasting of water may have a bigger impact on business than was previously considered.

 

 

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Why Go Green?
July 31, 2014, 10:35 pm
Filed under: About the Company, Going Green, How We Work | Tags: , , , , ,

header-logo2The world is growing by leaps and bounds as measured by the world population. In 1922 there were 2 billion people in the world. By 2000 there were 6 billion and by 2050 it is projected there will be 9 billion. With this growth the worlds natural resources will be much less available than they were just a few years ago. By 2050 there will only be 25% of the resources available per capita that people in 1950 had. For our children and grandchildren we save for college educations, health emergencies and weddings, but what about saving so that there will be enough clean air, water, fuel and soil for the future.

Some of the greatest threats to these resources are the things we throw away. When we send things to the landfill we risk damage to the environment as well as taking up a lot of space that is needed for our future growing population as well as the lifestyle we would like to maintain. As landfills are used up every person has to pay in some way to acquire additional space to put stuff.

Here are a couple of interesting facts:

  • One quart of oil will pollute one million gallons of water
  • For every ton of paper that is recycled, we save 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil and enough electricity to power an average house for six months
  • A  typical TV will run for six hours on the amount of electricity that is saved  by recycling one aluminum can
  • By recycling just one glass bottle you save enough electricity to power a 100-watt bulb for four hours

This is just one area that impacts our future environment. Add to that how we use energy water and clean air and this whole “green” thing becomes a big deal and it does impact everyone of us.

I am often asked the question of how can one person have any effect on a problem that is this big. That is exactly the point which is that with everyone doing just a little bit it makes a world of difference. A few examples of those little things each of us can do are:

  • Make sure you turn off lights when you leave a room
  • Change to energy efficient light bulbs as son as possible
  • Set the thermostat back a couple of degree both for cooling and heating
  • Seal leaks around doors and windows
  • Switch to low flow faucets
  • Use native plantings and limit irrigation to time it is only critical
  • Fix dripping faucets
  • Recycle everything you can
  • Buy items that have recycle content
  • Compost

People that do some or all of these thing will find they have reduce energy bills, lower water consumption and are sending less waste to landfills. All this results in lower utility bills in addition to the positive impact on the environment.



Energy Efficiency Is About The Whole Package

GREEN-DEALER-SUPPORT-A (Custom) (3)When businesses consider doing a lighting upgrade they often think in the terms of changing to more efficient bulbs like LED or a more efficient HVAC system that is 95% efficient. These are good things to do but are only a part of the package and should not be considered alone. For example, to change from Metal Halide lamps to LED might reduce energy consumption by 50-75% but that is only part of the saving. If controls are also updated the saving can be much commercial_lighting_14higher and is often up to 85%. For lighting, these controls include photo sensors, motion detectors and rotating the timing as to when lights are on. Often they are incorporated in a complete energy management system.

What happens here is an added consideration when replacing lights or making many other investments especially in energy related devices.

 



Supporting a Cause is Good for Business
December 25, 2013, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts | Tags: , ,

GREEN-DEALER-SUPPORT-A (Custom) (3)Large businesses are very visible when it comes to Corporate Social Policy and  Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and we see that most of the Fortune 500 businesses publish a CSR report at least annually. After all it is good to have a policy but the results are what really matters. Examples of some of these report are:

When asked how important CSR is to these companies the answers were that it is important with almost 90% saying that it was at least somewhat important:

csr_jpg

But what about smaller businesses like car dealerships. A study by Business4Better indicated that 66% of smaller businesses say they want to establish or improve their CSR efforts, believing it can increase business performance, drive employee participation and improve brand reputation.

Some of the ways businesses can begin to build a profile as a good neighbor in the community are through:

  1. Sponsorships
  2. Donations
  3. Pro Bono Service
  4. Volunteering

When businesses do this kind of thing their customers love them for it; 85% of consumers say they have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about  and 90% want companies to tell them ways in which they are supporting causes.

Where to Start

A good place to start is to develop a mission or purpose statement that defines your environmental interest. You can take a look at how you can advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves and then narrow it down and determine what you can offer.

Employees play a big role by being encouraged to support the company pet project. This can increase morale, teamwork, employee retention and satisfaction.

What is the payoff?

When a business is woven into the fabric of the community, everyone wins. The business is recognized as a good place to work and the is aligned with the beliefs and values of the community, employees and customers.

goodwill



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.


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.



Community Involvement
November 30, 2012, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Going Green | Tags: , , , , ,

GREEN-DEALER-SUPPORT-A (Medium)

Business everyday are moving toward being more involved in their communities. Here we will address specifically being involved in their community with a “green” flavor. Being involved with the community in an environmental way simply directs the resources that might otherwise be spent on marketing or other community involvement activities toward a focus on efforts and organizations that are doing things that have a positive impact on sustainability. These efforts will then align with the dealerships desire to act in a more environmentally responsible way.

Many business and especially car dealers are already contributing to the efforts of groups who are concernedadopt_a_highway2 about the environment and it’s sustainability. Identifying the involvement with these groups as part of the businesses activity helps to point out tha the dealerships is making a concerted effort to be “green”.

Working with organizations that have a local impact is always a good idea because the community also has affiliations with these same organizations or benefits from activities that the dealership is a part of. Adopt a Highway is a good example of this. Thousands of people each day could be traveling a section of highway that the dealership has agreed to keep cleared of trash. These impressions are always positive and for a member of the community to see that the dealership is involved in a manner such as this is always positive.

Here are a few things to consider before become involved with a community organization:

  • There are 2 million nonprofit organizations nationwide. The best way to become involved is proactively, not reactively. Take time to think about what you really want to support. What is really important to you and the dealership. A nonprofit mission statement should be clear and it should speak to you.
  • To be considered a nonprofit organizations must file an IRS Form 990 for threee consecutive years to maintain their tax exempt status. The website guidestar.org  tracks IRS documentation and independently verify compliance.
  • After you find the organizations mission statement, look for information on programs that detail how the mission statement is achieved. It is a good sign when organizations present specific, measurable goals and concrete criteria for describing successes.
  • If an organization is pressuring you to become involved that could be a reg flag. If in doubt say no.

Most nationally recognized groups have local ties. These groups because of their recognitions factor will provide more impact than a less know organization. While there are thousands of organizations that a dealership could partner with or in some way become involved with, normally limiting that to 5-10 organizations is about the right numer most most car dealerships. On the other hand a manufacturer such as Subaru might have an association with many more. To see a list of affiliations compiled by Green Dealer Support click here.




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