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August 11, 2008

Getting Green in the Automotive Industry

Flickrcomphotosrandysonofrobert1389 Going green hasn't always been economically friendly.  In fact, the initial cost of developing a more energy-efficient building can be 10 percent higher than using standard equipment.  But the recent rise in energy costs is helping to close that gap.

The new "green" economics of sustainable building is proving that in the long run, using more energy efficient equipment benefits the bottom line.  And as more and more companies begin to implement them, these energy-saving technologies are helping to improve the nation's landscape. 

"The cost of building green buildings is going down," says Jonathan Woelfling of the Sustainable Building Industry Council. "There's usually an initial higher first cost," Woelfling explains, "but with energy costs going up the way they are, it's a very simple analysis that proves out in the short (and certainly in the long-term), using more energy-efficient equipment will benefit you on the bottom line."

Traditionally a decidedly un-green environment, car dealerships come with specific challenges like large showroom windows, giant electric signs, and emissions from repair shops. But with sustainable practices like using skylights to illuminate workspaces and cut electricity costs, geothermal energy to heat and cool the building, and reclaiming rainwater for the car wash, some companies are making a green commitment while decreasing their energy costs. 

Greenlafontainesign11 One such dealership, LaFontaine Automotive Group of Michigan,  has built a new Buick-Pontiac-GMC-Cadillac dealership in Highland Township that is a state-of-the-art "green" facility -- the first of its kind in Michigan. Constructed with many of the technologies listed above, they even have their own windmill!

Ryan LaFontaine, general manager of the new facility, estimates energy savings of up to 50 percent--one of many benefits to the company and the community. Find out more about the amazing efforts his dealership has made to build a green business in this MediaSeed video: 

Greenlafontainedealership "No one required us to do this," LaFontaine said. "We thought it was the right thing to do for our employees, for the environment, and for the community. We want to set a good example and we believe in giving back to the community."

In addition to the efforts the dealership have made to its physical plant, LaFontaine rewards its employees for their own personal commitment to being eco-friendly: Special parking spots are reserved for employees who carpool to work, or those who drive low-emissions or alternative fuel vehicles. Storage areas and changing rooms are provided for employees who bicycle to their jobs.

Askpattybegreen At, we also recognize our responsibility to the world around us  and are continually striving to reduce our environmental impact, both through the products we promote and through our own on-site processes. Did you know that AskPatty recommends that our Certified Female Friendly dealers strive to be green by following these guidelines?

  •     * Use in-store bottle and can recycling bins for guests and employees;
  •     * Recycle scrap metal, car batteries, tires, and paper;
  •     * Reduce paper use:  store reports on networks instead of printing, make two-sided copies, run fewer daily reports;
  •     * Turn off lights and electrical items in unused offices;
  •     * Use compact fluorescent and energy smart bulbs in fixtures wherever possible;
  •     * Encourage and incentivize ridesharing, mass-transit use, or bicycling/walking to work;
  •     * More initiatives are in-progress!

With energy costs skyrocketing, we all know it makes sense to conserve as much as possible. This week, my Accord celebrated its third 26-mpg tank of gas in the last few months. Once a rarity among my usual 23-mpg tanks, my concerted efforts to drive more carefully are definitely paying off with more miles from every tank.

What are you doing to ease the pain at the pump and to be more ecofriendly at home at work?

Brandy_schaffels_s By Brandy Schaffels
Askpatty Editor

Videos produced for General Motors via MediaLink
Creative commons windmill photo courtesy randysonofrobert via

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