Green Dealer Support


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.



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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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.



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.



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

GREEN-DEALER-SUPPORT-A (Medium)

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

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

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

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

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

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



Can You Recycle It?
October 8, 2012, 9:12 am
Filed under: About the Company, Going Green | Tags: , , , , , ,

Most everyone I know talks about that they believe in recycling both at work and in their personal lives. It is a good thing to do and we see and hear lots of things about  the harm to the environment by not recycling everything we can. So why isn’t everyone doing it?

Personally, I tend to justify my less than 100% engagement of recycling by rationalizing that it does not always make sense. We believe it cost too much, it would create more pollution than it would avoid, etc., etc.  Where we live and where my office is located we do not have curbside pickup of recyclable  items. So how can we recycle and do what is right for the environment and future generations? What could I do so that I would not be saying it is right for everyone else but not for me?

I think you have to begin with the end in mind; that being a plan that you want to do everything you can to reduce the amount of things going to the landfill. With that being the ultimate goal then start considering what is going to the landfill today and determine is there any practical way to reduce that.

Every location has its own set of rules for what can be recycled and how it gets recycled. In order to be an effective recycler you will have to know what can be recycled from your location. When that is determined you are already part way there. Determine how to capture items that can be recycled and getting them into that system. But what about the items that are more difficult to recycle. Just because it is not easy does not mean it can’t be done. A great website to use in determining where and how to recycle a particular item is www.earth911.com

Next do not bite off too much at one time. Start with one item or at least one category and do the research as to how that item can be recycled or disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Once you figure one out and put processes in place to handle that one move on to the next. Often when you figure out what to do with one item several others can be addressed in a similar way. Just keep working  on this with the idea of “how can we reduce the amount going to the landfill”?

Different than recycling is reducing but it may be an even better way to reducing landfill. Our office had ended up with a large number of  magazines coming in each week. We had subscribed to lots of printed material much of which was a free subscription. This was creating clutter in the office and using up of storage space just in case there was any great article that we want to have on file. Then when we finally became overwhelmed we would throw it all away in big bunches. To improve on this we did an inventory of every magazine we were receiving and put them into three groups:

  • Really want a hard copy for the shelf
  • Wanted material but could receive it electronically
  • It would be worth stopping the subscription, at least for a test

We found that the “wanted a hard copy only needed to be about 25% of what we were receiving. This really works and it is more than just having less to go to the landfill, the clutter reduction is the best thing we ever did.

Whether for business or at home the process of ramping up your recycle activity should be very similar and that is to take it a few items at a time. However, having said that you still need to begin with the end in mind.

As the volume of material going to the landfill is reduced work with you trash hauler to reduce the cost. Can the pickup be once per week instead of twice? Can we use a 6 yard dumpster instead of an 8 yard. A great measure of that is to look at the dumpster just before it is picked up. Is it half full or even less?

If a dealership is looking for recycling solutions look at our website at http://www.greendealersupport.com/ or contact us by clicking here.




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