Green Dealer Support


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.



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

 

Monitors

 

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.



What Does Green Mean to You?
August 6, 2012, 6:31 pm
Filed under: Going Green | Tags: , , , ,

Let’s play word association – I say “green” and at least some dealers might say “climate change” and then something very nasty about Al Gore. Other dealers when they hear “green” in context to dealership operations think the following:

  • The need for energy independence
  • ROI – by lowering of ongoing dealership expenses
  • A marketing opportunity to differentiate your store from the competition 

There are also some additional practical reasons to check out the “green/sustainable” movement slowly taking place at many stores: 

Recruiting Gen Y: Most dealers struggle with recruiting a younger generation of employees; whether you feel they are right or wrong, they are very sensitive to the damage they feel has been done to their environment. Research says Gen Y’ers gravitate to work – and buy – from companies that have a track record of good environmental practices. For this generation that grew up with recycling and a true concern about the air they breathe, the “green” topic is not a debate, but a value. Ignoring or discounting the largest generation that will be buying your vehicles for as long as you’re a dealer is a perilous decision. 

Check Your Inventory: By the end of 2012 OEM’s will have 80 alternative energy vehicles available for sale (hybrids; electric; fuel cell).  Demand for fuel-efficient vehicles will also remain high as gas prices will invariably rise, government pressure to achieve higher CAFÉ standards will only continue,  and a crop of customers who demand high mileage vehicles due to their environmental beliefs will continue to grow. So, you’ll be selling “green”, but will you be acting “green”? 

Differentiating Your Dealership:  For those of you who have built or significantly remodeled a facility during the last three years,  you’ve added “sustainability factors” that you probably wouldn’t have dreamed of a few years ago. The decision to build a “greener” facility was probably a combination of expense reduction and good citizenship. The tough part, building a new facility, is done.  Now that you’ve made the investment in “green technologies”,  have you developed a marketing plan to further differentiate your store (s) from the competition?  This is particularly important with the advent of Internet shopping – allowing you to move beyond “commodity pricing” through differentiation.  Green Dealer Support provides the tools and help to customize communications that dealers can use to differentiate themselves by focusing on their “green” operations. Click here to learn more about what we do.



Green Tips
August 3, 2012, 6:23 am
Filed under: Going Green | Tags: , , , , ,

Green Tips that can be useful in your business or at home are always good reminders. From time to time we plan to publish a few items that you might find useful. So many these tips are not brand new but items you may have heard about before but just not put them into action.

A great website by Consumers Energy that has a lot of useful ideas that will help as you move down the road of being “green”. Click on this list Consumers published of 8 Environmental Tips. At the bottom of their list they have several really great links that lead you to an almost endless array of things to do at home or at work to become “greener”.

A couple of the tips that hit home from the Consumers list are very car dealer related.

  • Recycling automotive products such as oils and batteries is of course something you are probably already doing. A periodic examination of that process to confirm that you are using the right vendor and or process is a good practice. This will confirm that the recycle process carried out by the vendor meets your expectations. A second step here is to establish yourself as a local recycler of these items for your customers or anyone else in the community. By marketing your willingness to recycle automotive related items regardless of who brings them in you are providing a community service and in many cases able to make money from the recyclable item and generate business.
  • Conserve paper is a great car dealership project that has almost endless possibilities. The potentially large volume of paper generated by a dealership means that every department can get involved. The cost come from generating the paper in the first place and then disposing of that paper after it is used. Consider things such as two-sided printing and copying. Electronic RO’s and other documents can not only decrease the use of paper but create other efficiencies that save time and money.

Sorting through all of the ideas that a business can apply to its daily operation that applies to all departments in the dealership can be a daunting task . That is why Green Dealer Support tries to help by bringing organization and doing a lot of the leg work for a dealership through our Assessment and Implementation processes. Click here to learn more about Green Dealer Support.

If you have a “green”  best practice that relates to a business or that can be used at home and would like to share it  click on this link to add the idea to the comment box. We will be sure to add it to a future blog for everyone to use.



Energy Star
July 30, 2012, 7:32 pm
Filed under: Going Green | Tags: , , , ,

Energy Star is a very recognized brand name. The organization was created in 1992 as a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. They claim to having been responsible for the avoidance of huge amounts of greenhouse gases and in 2010 alone the reduction of 18 billion dollars in utility bills. We see the Energy Star label on products and in printed information. But did you know about all the things that Energy Star does?

The Energy Star website is divided into several sections that provide a great roadmap as to all the things they do. Of course the testing and labeling of Energy Star rated products is there but the website also provides great detail on what businesses and homes can do to conserve energy. Our discussion in this blog is a high level discussion of the tools and information that car dealers can use to become “greener” and communicate that to their employees and the community.

When performing Dealership Assessment and working with car dealers on Implementation Green Dealer Support uses many of the tools available on the Energy Star website. A couple of areas we find particularly valuable for car dealers are:

A large amount of information is also available for non-business applications. This starts with Energy Star Products and also includes a lot of information that can be really helpful in the operation of your home. Both new home purchasers as well as those with older homes can benefit from this area of the website. To learn more about Energy Star click on this link.

In later Blogs we intend to examine the why and how of using some of the great Energy Star tools for car dealers. For now you might want to see what a couple of dealers did to become green using the Energy Star tools as well as working through the issues on their own:

Auto Fair Companies in Manchester New Hampshire

Patriot Subaru in Saco Maine

Sorting through all of the Energy Star tools and information is something that Green Dealer Support has become very experienced at and can assist car dealers in leveraging all the information that is available. As we  discuss Energy Star tools and information in greater depth in later blogs we will share with you how these tools work.



What is the ROI?
July 24, 2012, 10:18 am
Filed under: Going Green | Tags: , , ,

Dealers I talk to are always telling me that if they are going to do something “green” they would like to have a good Return On Investment (ROI).  In principal, we agree with the need for investments to have a good ROI. The challenge is always how to measure the ROI  By definition ROI is the performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. To calculate ROI, the benefit (return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment; the result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio. 

The formula is pretty straight forward:

Most Investments have some sort of direct $ cost and so that part may be easy to figure. It is the Gain from Investment that is often a challenge.

Take the replacement of an Incandescent 100 watt bulb with a 23 watt CFL. The needed wattage was derived from the n:vision Energy Efficient Lighting Chart. The cost should not be too hard to calculate, next time you are at Home Depot or your local hardware store, figure out the size and color rendition and any other unique characteristics and you will find the cost is $3-7 each. Now you know the cost, let’s call it $5.00.

The Gain from Investment becomes a little harder to figure. Here are some of the items to include:

  • The reduced use of electricity (the easy calculation)
  • The CFL bulb last more than 13 longer than it’s Incandescent replacement
  • The CFL generates a limited amount of heat (AC load)
  • In hard to reach location it requires replacement much less often
  • The image of your business projects to customers and employees
  • The impact on the environment

So the Gain from Investment is a little more complex but in most cases can still be calculated and become part of the ROI calculation.

But making decisions on the impact of ROI on being “green” frequently does not stop with an ROI study. For example in the above calculation some additional things to consider are:

  • What about disposal of CFL bulbs which contain trace amounts of mercury
  • Under some circumstances CFL perform differently than Incandescent bulbs
  • What about other alternatives such as LED
  • What about considerations for ways to keep lights turned off when not needed or harvesting natural light.

Decisions about being “green” are not just a matter of saying you want a good ROI.

Green Dealer Support focuses on helping car dealers become greener and sort through the sometimes complex issues related to the all important ROI.




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