Green Dealer Support

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.

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.

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.

Energy Star Challenge
August 24, 2012, 11:57 am
Filed under: Going Green | Tags: , , , , , ,

Each year in the US, commercial buildings use about $200 billion worth of  electricity and natural gas. It is estimated that about 30% of that is wasted. It is also estimated that 1/3 of the wasted energy could be saved by making changes that do not cost anything. That means $20 billion worth of energy could be saved with a minimal cost.

The Energy Star Challenge is a program that designed to bring attention to these saving and others that can be accomplished with a relative low investment and with a high ROI. When energy is wasted a power plant somewhere burns fossil fuel to generate electricity and emits emissions into the environment unnecessarily.

Green Dealer Support uses The Energy Star Challenge as a tool to help dealers reduce energy cost and communicate their efforts and successes to employees, customers and the community. The challeng encourages participants to; 1) track energy usage, 2) plan for changes and improvements, 3) implement and measure those changes and 4) communicate the energy saving ideas to employees, customers and the community.

Getting set up on The Energy Star Challenge at a dealership is not difficult. The first step is to sign up for the challenge. This gets you listed but does not make you active. To be active you then must submit your story. Energy Star provides you an outline of possible information to include in your story. A typical story includes a few paragraphs that talk about the things you have done to reduce energy usage and possibly what your future plans are.

Energy Star Products
August 14, 2012, 9:01 am
Filed under: Going Green | Tags: , , , ,

Energy Star products were first introcuced in the mid 1990’s with a preference toward office products. Monitors and computers were the first labeled products. By the early 2000’s Home Electronics saw its start with the Energy Star label. Since then many additional items now carry the Energy Star label with over 60 product categories now covered. The ENERGY STAR label is now on major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, and more. EPA has also extended the label to cover new homes and commercial and industrial buildings.

Through its partnerships with private and public sector organizations, ENERGY STAR delivers the technical information and tools that organizations and consumers need to choose energy-efficient solutions and best management practices. One of thos Energy Star Services and Product Providers is Green Dealer Support. Their stated focus is to help Automobile Dealers become “greener”. Energy Star plays a signifiant role in helping them achieve that goal.

 Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, prevented 210 million metric tons of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions1 in 2011 alone— equivalent to the annual emissions from 41 million vehicles—and reduced their utility bills by $23 billion.

Energy Star puublished the following chart to show these saving:







 Some specific dealership used products that can be Energy Stat rated are:

Water heaters and Furnaces




Copiers and Printers








These products and many more have an Energy Star rating. Click here to go to the Energy Star list of rated products. Energy efficiency should always be part of every purchasing practice/policy.

%d bloggers like this: