Green Dealer Support


Will the Grid Go Away?
February 28, 2014, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Going Green, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

GREEN-DEALER-SUPPORT-A (Medium)For years, low-cost renewable-plus-battery systems were seen as a unlikely and not a threat to mainstream electricity delivery any time soon. By far, the limiting factor has been battery costs.

But thanks to a confluence of factors playing out across the energy industry, the reality is that affordable battery storage is coming much sooner than most people battery3realize. That approaching day of cheaper battery storage, when combined with many forms of renewable energy, has the potential to fundamentally alter the use of the grid.

While grid-tied solar has seen dramatic recent cost declines, until recently, solar-plus-battery systems have not been considered economically viable. However, concurrent declining costs of batteries, growing maturity of solar-plus-battery systems and increasing adoption rates for these technologies are changing that. Recent media coverage, market analysis and industry discussions have gone so far as to suggest that low-cost solar-plus-battery systems one day could enable customers to cut the cord with their utility and go from grid connected to grid defected.

But while people have been talking about renewable energy plus battery systems as a potential option at some point in the distant future, there has been a scarcity of detailed analysis to quantify when and where.

renewableThere are several possible scenarios: a more conservative base case plus more aggressive cases that consider technology improvements with accelerated cost declines, investments in energy efficiency coupled with load management and the combination of technology-driven cost declines, energy efficiency and load management. Even the base case results are compelling, but the combined improvements scenario is especially so, because efficiency and load management reduce the required size of the system while technology improvements reduce the cost of that system, compounding cost declines and greatly accelerating grid parity.

Solar-plus-battery grid parity is here already or coming soon for a rapidly growing minority of utility customers. Grid parity exists today in Hawaii for commercial customers, and rapidly will expand to reach residential customers as early as 2022. Grid parity will reach millions of additional residential and commercial customers in places such as New York and California within a decade.      •

Even before total grid defection becomes widely economic, utilities will see solar-plus-battery systems eat into their revenues. Factors such as customer desires for increased power reliability and low-carbon electricity generation are driving early adopters ahead of grid parity, including those installing smaller grid-dependent solar-plus-battery systems to help reduce demand charges, provide backup power and yield other benefits. These early activities likely will accelerate the infamous utility death spiral — self-reinforcing upward price pressures, which make further self-generation or total defection economic faster. The “old” cost recovery model, based on kWh sales, by which utilities recover costs and an allowed market return on infrastructure investments, will become obsolete. Utilities must re-think their current business model in order to retain customers and to capture the additional value that such distributed investments will bring.

The results are profound, especially in geographies such as the U.S. Southwest. In this region of the country, the conservative base case shows solar-plus-battery systems undercutting utility retail electricity prices for the most expensive one-fifth of load served in 2024; under the more aggressive assumptions, off-grid systems prove cheaper than all utility-sold electricity in the region just a decade out from today.

Millions of customers representing billions of dollars in utility revenues will find themselves in a position to cost-effectively defect from the grid if they so choose. The so-called utility death spiral is proving not just a hypothetical threat, but a real, near and present one. The coming grid parity of solar-plus-battery systems in the foreseeable future, among other factors, signals the eventual demise of legacy utility business models.

Although utilities could and should see this as a threat, they also can see solar-plus-battery systems as an opportunity to add value to the grid and their business models. The United States’ electric grid is on the cusp of a great transformation, and the future of the grid need not be an either/or between central and distributed generation. It can and should be a network that combines the best of both.

Having determined when and where grid parity will happen, the important next question is how utilities, regulators, technology providers and customers might work together to reshape the market — either within existing regulatory frameworks or under an evolved regulatory landscape — to tap into and maximize new sources of value that build the best electricity system of the future the delivers value and affordability to customers and society. These disruptive opportunities are the subject of ongoing work by the authors, covered in a forthcoming report to follow soon.

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Green Initiatives have a Positive Impact on Profits!
January 9, 2014, 1:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

ImageGreen initiatives within dealership operations are becoming a way of life for many dealerships. New car dealers are already well on their way to Going Green, but may not have ever thought of these activities as being Eco-Friendly. Some actions that are being taken reduce Energy usage by over 50%. Some actions that are being taken reduce Water usage by over 40%. Some actions that are being taken reduce Waste to Landfill by over 60%. What should a dealer do to accelerate the process at their store?

Answer: Make a commitment to take action to Go Green, just do it. Then take one action at a time and move forward doing something about it.

The best step is for management to make a commitment that this is something that we are going to do and then begin to gather the support of others in each department finding those individuals who are naturally inclined to support being Eco-Friendly. Everyone in the dealership is not going to be so inclined to be advocates of environmental sustainability efforts, but many are and their involvement will encourage others along with internal communications that become a part of operations on a regular basis.

One thing to do to get it started is to determine what the current status is. This can be as simple as two lists:

  1. Green Things We are Already Doing
  2. Green Opportunities

Don’t be too concerned if it is 100% complete. This is a work in progress item. You will find that the list tends to include components such as:

  • Reduce Energy Usage
  • Reduce Water Usage
  • Reduce Waste to Landfill.

Most dealerships like to tackle the Green Initiatives that have the greatest ROI which generally will be reducing Energy usage. Energy usage has many forms including electricity and fuels such as natural gas. The good news is that most of the Energy saving projects have a good payback and in a lot of cases are reduced in cost through incentives and tax advantages. Operating cost reductions frequently pay for the investments in the short term and results in improved cash flow in the long term resulting in improved profits.

Lighting tends to be the biggest energy consumer and takes many forms both inside and outside the building. Technology has moved fast in the lighting area and almost all facilities have opportunities to improve the quality of lighting and reduce the operations cost.

How do you figure it all out? Of course, you need to rely on the experts in this field. They should have all the skills necessary to determine what is best for you particular situation and be sure you are able to take advantage of all of the incentives and benefits. As always, get more than one opinion (proposal) and work with reliable suppliers. Most important is to be an educated buyer. Use the tools that are available to educate yourself and come up with your own set of numbers so you can check out what the vendors say.

These and many more practical ideas will be presented at the NADA Workshop:

Improve Cash Flow and Profits with Green Initiatives

Panel members:

Chuck Golden, Green Dealer Support

Scott Ringlein, The Energy Alliance Group of North America

Andrew Lindstrom, Cree Lighting

Ryan Rodau, GE Lighting

You can attend the NADA Workshop on:

Improve Cash Flow and Profit with Green Initiatives

Friday            1/24/2014   2:00 pm – 3:15pm             Room 220-222

Sunday          1/26/2014   10:30am – 11:45am          Room 228-230

Sunday          1/26/2014   3:30pm – 4:45pm              Room 211-213



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

header-logo2

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

plastic Waste

Here how plastics are made:

Plastics fall into two basic categories; thermosets and thermoplastic.

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

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

Here are some interesting plastic waste statistics (2010):

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

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

Quick Facts about Plastic Pollution

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

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

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

Resin Identification Code

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Type of Resin Content

PET

HDPE

Vinyl

LDPE

PP

PS

OTHER

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

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

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

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

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



Business E-waste
December 28, 2012, 10:34 am
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts | Tags: , , , , ,

GREEN-DEALER-SUPPORT-A (Custom) (3)It is estimated that 80% of e-waste in the United States ends up in landfills. Globally 40 million tons of e-waste are sent to landfills, dumps or are incinerated. There are over 600 million obsolete computers in the United States.  Recycling e-waste can also turn into some real savings. Here are a couple of examples:

Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.

For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

e-waste

About 10% of used computers are disposed of properly. Many are sent to local recyclers who ship them overseas countries where few safety regulations are followed in disposing of the material. The processes used in these countries results in workers, communities, wildlife, water and crops being exposed to hazardous materials the e-waste contains. For example an older computer may contain as much as four pounds of lead.

Proper e-waste procedures begin with the purchasing of electronics that have “green” traits. The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool that includes an electronic registry of “green” electronics. Click Here for the link to EPEAT. 

For dealerships e-waste comes in many forms:

  • Computers
  • Phones
  • Printers
  • Fax Machines
  • Networking Equipment
  • Monitors
  • DVD Players
  • PDA’s
  • VCR’s
  • Televisions
  • Etc.

When these items are no longer useful for your operation the two options are Reuse and Recycle.

Many devices are being replaced so that you have the latest features that you need or require but may still have some useful life, value and importantly are not yet ready to be thrown away. Some schools and other public organizations may be interested in a contribution. Further some groups are interested in the used products to salvage for parts prior to recycling the remainder.

For those situations where a resource for recycling or reusing is unknown here are a few links you can use:

Many states have laws that relate to e-waste recycling. Click Here for the National Electronics Recycling infrastructure Clearinghouse (NERIC) to find all the latest information on e-waste handling in your area.

If you are replacing electronic items that have data stored be sure to remove all this information before recycling or donating the item.

Green Dealer Support has experience working with car dealers who want to be responsible environmental partners. E-waste is one of the many areas that dealers will want to address as part of their eco-friendly activities.




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