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.


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.


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.




August 31, 2014, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


In more general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes.I think I first knew about that word in some form from my track coach when I was running cross country. He tried to impress on all of us that in order to do well we had to be able to “sustain” the pace. We needed to hold back a little as the race went on so that as we reach the point of only having 1,000 yards left to go we could we could really push it and pass all those other guys who had moved out in front of us earlier in the race.

It my business I find another version of this to be true, which is; that even when times are good, I need to resist going out and spending all the money in the bank, just because it is there. I need to be able to “sustain” the operation of the business for the long run. If I don’t have that long range plan I could find myself running out of steam (money) at the wrong time.

There is of course the definition of sustainability that relates to the environment. I know there is a lot of conversation about this. Many people would tell you that they believe that Global Warming and Climate Change are all part of the evolution of time and that we should not get too concerned about these thing. We have been seeing storms and droughts for years and that all seems to be just part of the way things change over time.

For me, I am concerned that people that live in Norfolk VA are seeing high tides cause more issues. I am also concerned that a group of scientist is warning that Climate Change is going to have a big impact on all of us. I guess time will tell how serious all that is. In the mean time, what is a person to do?

I think we can make it a little simpler and manageable by breaking it down into some smaller pieces. I am going to take a stab at that because it seem to me that when most people are looking at the entire issue of environmental sustainability they find it has almost has too many moving parts.

My approach is to look at three components with the idea that I can understand it I can, in my own way, have an impact on all three. The three pieces I personally can work on are:

  1. Energy
  2. Water
  3. Waste

A lot of the use of resources such as Energy and Water is based on population growth as well as how well we live. In 1927 we reached a world population of 2,000,000,000 people. By 1974 we had  doubled that to 4 billion and it is estimated that by 2026 we will double that again to 8 billion. All those people use up a lot of energy and water and create a lot of waste going into landfills. And from 1927 until now most of us are each using a lot more resources.


Here is what I see going on with energy. The scientist tell us that for some time we are using energy faster that what we are producing it. The numbers are huge as to how much faster we are using energy that we are making it. The fact is, however, we have a big stockpile to draw from. But, we also have the issue that we are using it faster all the time. The debate seems to be how soon will we run out. If we keep doing this, sooner or later we will run out.

We use energy in many ways, but to keep it simple and look at myself (which may not be the same for everyone), I have a few big uses of energy that I personally could change. One is electricity/natural gas and the other is gasoline. I know I can have some impact on the use of both of them without too much change in my life style.

On the electricity/natural gas one, am already going down the road of replacing in-efficient light bulbs with CFL bulbs or LED. Was it a big deal? At the time it seems like it was. Those incandescent bulbs are really cheap to buy while the CFL’s were a lot more expensive and the LED’s are terrible. However, when you put a pencil to it the LED’s really make a lot of sense. I just had to change my outlook to longer term. My home is heated with Geothermal. It certainly cost more at the outset but again when I look at the long term it was easy to see the cost was much lower.

And then there is the gasoline issue. The car I use for business get almost 30 mile to the gallon, so I feel I am pretty good about that. Last week when I was in California and was going to be spending a week in the car with about 1,500 mile to drive so I had some decisions to make. As I was walking down the National Car Rental row of cars I had some basic considerations in mind. I needed a car that would be comfortable for all those miles and I needed a car with XM Radio and on by the way, it needed to have decent fuel economy. I got all three things I wanted and to my surprise got about 40 miles to the gallon overall.  When my gasoline cost was about 40% less than I normally experienced it was a good reminder to be sure next time to have fuel economy a little higher on the list of requirements. We will all all eventually be driving cars with better fuel economy, like it or not, as we move toward an average fleet of over 50 miles to the gallon.



Being from the Midwest where we have enough water (at least this year) it is sometimes hard to worry too much about any shortage of water. That is until you get to California. Here I saw lot of evidence of how much trouble we are already in for water. I saw lake Shasta where the water level is down about 75 feet. It is that water that irrigates those fruits and vegetables we all love so much. The dryness also had thousand of acres burning out of control in Northern California.

I am not sure how much of this we control but when on the same trip I saw lawns being over watered with runoff going down the gutter, it makes you wonder what it will take to get serious about how we protect our water supply whether it is in California or in Michigan. The fact is we all could be doing things to reduce water usage where ever we are.

It still all can get down to money. Even in the Midwest, water is about a penny per gallon. That does not sound like much until you see the number of gallons that are used by all the people every day with little regard as to how we can reduce usage. Often if is more a matter of how we use it and does not even require measures such as low flow faucets.



This is a big issue for a lot of reasons.

First every time we throw something in the trash and it goes to the landfill there is some chance that we made a bad decision when we acquired it and thus too quickly it became trash. If you want to look at it strictly on dollars out of you pocket, think about what never should have been acquired in the first place. Also think about it along the lines of, could someone else use this or could it be recycled.

Here a a couple of examples:

  1. Plastic bags
  2. Plastic water bottles

It seems that every store is happy to package your purchase in plastic bags. Whether it is the grocery store or the home supplies store, we always seem to have a lot of those plastic bags coming home with us. They do not cost a lot but they sure are a mess to deal with. Most of them end up in the landfill and they stay there forever and ever. At the landfill they add up to a huge amount of space. The alternative is to use those reusable bags we all have accumulated and probably already have in the trunks of our cars.

Those water bottles are a similar problem but here there is a cost you bear that doesn’t have to happen. With drinking water costing about a penny per gallon out of the faucet and bottled water cost a buck the decision is easy.

While I do not have all the answers for being a totally environmentally sustainable world, I have just shown that from my person experience we could all be doing a little bit every day to help. Multiply that times 8,000,000,000 and it starts to get to be a big number.

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.


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.


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 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 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.

Hello Fellow Green Enthusiast !
July 22, 2012, 8:31 am
Filed under: How We Work | Tags: ,

This blog is a continuation of the roll out of Green Dealer Support and will be an added way to get information in the hands of our team members as well as other who have an interest in Green Businesses.

Your may have noticed that our company name has the word “Dealer” in it and could have actually have included the words  “Car Dealer”. Many people have asked me why we took such a focused approach. If we provide a good service shouldn’t our services apply to any business and isn’t that market a lot bigger than just car dealerships? The answer is yes but we made a commitment to focus on a very unique group of businesses (car dealerships) who have a similar business model and are relative the same size.

When we built our business model we decided to focus on car dealers and to look at everything about the dealership operation that could fall under the umbrella of “green”. We have attempted to identify everything under that green umbrella and then help dealerships make decisions on whether/how to incorporate these green qualities into their operations.

We will be posting three Categories of Blogs:

  • Going Green-Green ideas you can use in your business or away from your business
  • Green Facts-Sorting out things people are saying about green
  • How We Work-Some frequently asked information on how we go about doing what we do

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