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.



What Gets Measured, Gets…..
May 31, 2014, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

GREEN-DEALER-SUPPORT-A (Custom) (3)The adage of “What Get Measured, Gets Done” has been around for a long time but for the purpose of this blog I am using “What Gets Measured, Get Managed”. It is more that semantics.

MEASUREMENT.inddWhen we make the case for Going Green it is all about measuring performance in many areas that compose the environmental picture of a businesses operation. Big businesses today are almost always focused on sustainability measurements. This same level of interest is become of greater concern to medium and small businesses. Some Car Dealer are beginning to show an interest in how they act is effecting the environment. They are realizing that when they reduce carbon emissions and cut down on the use of precious natural resources it saves them money in the long term. How they measure that performance, however, is becoming a new experience.

Car dealers are no strangers to using measures to determine their business progresses, albeit in a somewhat different form. Car dealers have always used the comparisons of how are we doing this month compared to last month or as compared to the same month last year. These measurements are usually in the area of sales of vehicles, service and parts. Car dealers are also very active in establishing targets and goals in these familiar areas.

Measuring and using the results to manage for improvement follows the same approach for environmental issues as tracking the sale of new vehicles. That is compare how you are doing this month compared to last month and compare how you are doing compared to last year.

With only a few of these dealers measure performance in environmental issues many dealers are missing a large opportunity. The opportunity is in the reduction of expenses. After all, reducing expenses has the same effect on the bottom line as the increase in sales. So why don’t dealers focus more on this the area of reducing operating expenses, especially in the area of environmentally related functions? Dealers tell us 1), it is hard and 2), they do not know where to begin. In this blog we intend to answer both of those issues.

First on where to get started; the goal here is to keep it simple. Apply the KISS (Keep it Simple and Straightforward) approach. Some businesses try to set up measurement systems in a broad scope of areas. That is OK for a long range approach but to get started keep the scope narrow and only those few area that are easy to measure. Dealers should begin with only a couple of areas and it is easy to do. The areas to focus on are:

  • Energy – This includes electricity and gas (if used)
  • Water

This limited number of areas narrows the scope and keeps measuring focused and easy to do.

How to get started. Just take a years worth of data (actually it is best to start with 13 month) and enter key information into some sort of a spreadsheet like Excel. So for electricity you would gather the last 13 month of bills and for each meter enter kWh, cost and end date of the bill. For natural gas (or other types of fuel used to heat) follow a similar process except the energy type will be different such as ccf’s and then the cost and date. The same for water.  You now have measurements for key areas of expense that are manageable and can be used as a tool to determine where your expenses are going.



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.



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.




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