To help auto dealers adopt more environmentally responsible business practices while also reducing costs, Honda is publicly releasing the Honda “Green Dealer” Guide. This comprehensive, 93-page energy efficiency roadmap was developed specifically for dealerships and similar commercial buildings with high energy loads. The company is encouraging auto dealers – across all brands – to download the Guide and reduce their environmental footprint.
The Honda “Green Dealer” Guide synthesizes the company’s experience over the past three years helping its U.S. dealers reduce their energy consumption through its Environmental Leadership Program. So far, the program has helped 45 Honda and Acura dealers collectively reduce their annual CO2 emissions by approximately 5,000 tons, the equivalent annual footprint of the electricity needed to power more than 600 U.S. homes.i In addition, dealers have cut their cumulative annual operating costs by more than $800,000. If all 17,000 automotive dealerships across the country were to reduce their electricity consumption by just 10%, nearly 800,000 tons of CO2 emissions would be eliminated annually.
“In researching existing green building programs, we found there was nothing ideally suited to the unique operational needs of auto dealerships, especially existing dealer facilities. We decided to create a roadmap that any dealer can use to improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions and cut overhead costs,” said Steven Center, Vice President of American Honda’s Environmental Business Development Office. “The bottom line is that green business is good business, and this guide gives dealers the tools they need to become more efficient and profitable at the same time.”
Dealerships have unique energy use characteristics that differ from other commercial or industrial energy users. Abundant parking lot and interior lighting, an auto service and repair operation, and an on-site car wash are all common features that can contribute to high energy and water demand. Approximately 46% of the average dealer’s energy use can be attributed to interior and exterior lighting, while 43% comes from building heating and cooling.iii
After finding that existing green building programs did not specifically focus on measurably reducing energy and water consumption without disrupting operations, Honda began developing and testing its own program, which includes a path to achieving zero net energy use. Highest impact improvement areas include installing high-efficiency lighting systems and motion sensors that turn lights off when they’re not needed, optimizing programmable thermostats, replacing older air-conditioning and heating systems with newer, more energy-efficient equipment, and installing low-flow water fixtures. Adding solar panels is another great way to significantly offset energy usage.
The Honda and Acura Environmental Leadership Programs
Independently owned and operated Honda and Acura dealers who participate in the company’s Environmental Leadership Program follow the four-step plan outlined in the Guide. Step one involves tracking of electricity, natural gas and water consumption data to identify trends. Next, a professional engineer supervises the dealership’s environmental assessment and provides improvement recommendations with a simple payback. Recommendations can be implemented on-site in as little as one day, or over a period of months if larger capital investment projects are required. Finally, post-implementation performance tracking verifies that the desired energy savings have been achieved.
Honda and Acura dealers who have verifiably reduced their energy and water consumption while adopting other sustainable practices earn an Environmental Leadership Award – silver for a 10% reduction in energy use, gold for 30% reduction and platinum for a 50% reduction. To date, seven Honda and Acura dealerships have received platinum awards, while 11 have received gold and 27 have received silver awards. More than 280 Honda and Acura automobile and Honda powersports dealers are currently enrolled in the program.
In January 2014, Rossi Honda of Vineland, NJ, became the nation’s first dealership to achieve “Electric Grid Neutral” status by producing as much as or more energy from renewable energy sources than it consumed from its local electric utility over a one-year period.iv
Expanding the Honda “Green Dealer” Program
Honda is encouraging auto dealers across all brands, as well as other commercial businesses, to download the Honda “Green Dealer” Guide on a new website. Interested consumers can also locate Honda and Acura dealerships that have received Silver, Gold, or Platinum Environmental Leadership Awards.
The Honda and Acura Environmental Leadership Programs and the Honda “Green Dealer” Guide are the products of American Honda’s Environmental Business Development Office (EBDO). Honda established EBDO in 2011 to reduce the environmental impact of Honda’s operations and create achievable pathways to enable a low carbon lifestyle for Honda customers. Among other projects, EBDO established Honda Smart Home U.S., a transportation-integrated zero net energy residence in California, and Honda’s partnership with SolarCity. Honda utilized the professional engineering services of Altura Associates, Inc. to complete dealership environmental assessments and to help design the Honda and Acura Environmental Leadership Programs.
Honda and the Environment
Based on its vision of “Blue Skies for our Children,” Honda is working to advance technologies that address society’s environmental and energy concerns through a diverse lineup of products and technologies, including more fuel-efficient gasoline engines, natural gas, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel- cell vehicles (FCVs).
Today, Honda is targeting a 30-percent reduction in CO2 emissions from its U.S. automobile product lineup by 2020, compared to 2000 levels. In pursuit of its vision for a zero-carbon future, the company is advancing electromotive technologies in many forms, and is slated to introduce an advanced fuel-cell vehicle in 2016.
In keeping with its commitment to produce vehicles with the lowest CO2 emissions at plants with the smallest environmental footprint, the company is broadly addressing emissions, energy, water use and waste in all phases of its products life cycles. In the manufacturing realm, this includes a 95 percent reduction in waste sent to landfills in North America. Honda is working to extend its “green factory” and “green purchasing” initiatives to its more than 650 parts suppliers in North America.
Honda is also demonstrating its vision for zero-carbon mobility and living with the creation of the Honda Smart Home US, in Davis, California, which was opened in early 2014 and is capable of producing more energy on-site from renewable sources than it consumes annually, including enough energy to power a Honda Fit EV for daily commuting.