The Green Dealership
There are a number of ways to make your dealership energy efficient.
By Denise L. Rondini, Executive Editor
These days you can’t escape the emphasis on green and sustainability. It’s no longer something reserved for environmental extremists. Everyone seems to have recognized if not the need to conserve resources the value of doing so.
“As we continue with new dealership construction we are aggressively working on green sustainability,” says Jim Krzmarzick, manager – network expansion for Navistar.
Michael Rawlins, general manager of Schow’s Inc., decided to make his dealership’s new location in Salt Lake City green after reading an article on environmental stewardship that appeared in the October 2010 issue of Successful Dealer.
“The interesting thing to me was that some of the changes we were making really were not costing us any more money. A lot of it was just having a different mind frame when looking at what to do.”
After doing some research, Rawlins made the decision to choose as many recyclable, reusable products as possible. Then he upgraded the insulation, putting R19 in the walls and R30 in the roof. “We also upgraded windows to energy-efficient thermal windows with good insulation around them.”
Low-energy annealed glass allows more sunlight to enter during the winter months and blocks sunlight to reduce heat build-up during the summer, according to Jon Leonard, sales representative at Leonard Bus Sales.
“Dealers also are trying to take every possible advantage of natural light, which largely has been overlooked in the past,” Krzmarzick says. Dealers are finding that translucent shop doors, multiple skylights and more glass overall provide a much brighter dealership and have a good payback time.
Polished concrete floors, which need fewer chemicals to clean, also are becoming popular in many dealerships. Dealers who are concerned about the comfort of their customers can use rubber mats or rugs in areas where customer might be standing.
Concrete floors lend themselves to in-floor shop heating, which is becoming increasingly popular. “It makes a lot of sense,” Krzmarzick says. “The key is you need to just keep the bottom five or six feet warm versus the waste of a furnace pushing air down from above.”
Rawlins chose this option for his new dealership. “We opted out of using individual hanging heaters and chose a radiant heating system which is really quite good because it heats items in the shop not just the air,” he says.
Rawlins expects a decrease of about $2,000 a month in his winter heating bills.
Rawlins also had the system set up for used oil heating. “Service is an area we want to grow and as we do our supply of used oil will increase, so our plan is to have the ability to heat with it in the future.”
While it may seem like finding out about all these energy saving options is time consuming, Rawlins says it was not. His general contractor was well prepared to discuss energy saving options with Rawlins once he indicated that it was something he was interested in. “I don’t know if every general contractor is like ours was, but it was amazing how much they already were aware of once I started asking questions.”
Remember that some of these energy-saving products come with higher price tags. “There is going to be a little more expense,” Rawlins says, “but it was nothing significant ― 2 to 3 percent more. That is very reasonable given the energy savings.
“Once the dealers see the opportunity of payback and also recognize the importance of environmental responsibility, we don’t hear them complain about the higher initial costs,” Krzmarzick says.
“Once they learn about being green, they see it as an opportunity, and they are embracing it”.
Through-Put And Sustainability
Some dealers are finding that when they build a new facility to replace an existing one, they don’t necessarily need to have a bigger facility if they consider shop through-put.
According to Jim Krzmarzick, manager – network expansion for Navistar, “We are designing new dealership bays so technicians have ideal working conditions to accomplish various vehicle maintenance tasks with higher productivity.”
This includes having the proper work space around all size vehicles to avoid compromising convenience with diagnostic equipment, rolling the technicians’ toolboxes and laying out the needed parts.
“Design plans include a couple of service lanes that are up to 25 ft. wide for ample side space. Another aspect is convenient access to power and air lines, lube equipment and computer access for parts lookup and ordering.”
He adds, “Through-put can reduce the required dealership footprint.”