Dealerships represent the majority of sales outlets for most vehicle manufacturers. There are over 17,000 dealers in the USA alone, with many thousands more worldwide. The result is the combined electricity consumption by these dealerships is significant. As ever, Honda have taken a different approach and had a look at how to reduce their dealerships energy usage. Aiming for ‘Electric Grid Neutral’, producing as much as or more energy from renewable energy sources than it consumes from its local electric utility over a one-year period, Rossi Honda of Vineland, New Jersey in the USA has achieved just that and as such are the country’s first energy neutral dealership. Rossi Honda, independently owned, worked closely with Honda’s Environmental Leadership Program team who, together, were able to draw up a plan and implement it.
Rossi’s precedent-setting achievement earned it a top-level “Platinum” Honda Environmental Leadership Award, reserved for dealers who verifiably reduce their net grid electricity use to zero (Electric Grid Neutral) or achieve LEED certification. Through a combination of energy efficiency measures and on-site solar energy, the dealership reduced its annual grid electricity consumption by approximately 321,000 kWh and annual CO2 output by approximately 341,000 lbs.
How Rossi Honda Did It
In 2012, Rossi installed a 223kW solar PV system that generated 90 percent of its total electricity consumption from solar energy. In March 2013 Rossi replaced the metal halide lamps on its parking lot light poles with LED lamps, reducing its energy consumption by 22 percent. After the lighting upgrade, the solar PV system now generates over 100% of the dealership’s annual electricity use, achieving Rossi’s goal of Electric Grid Neutral.
The local electric utility invoices Rossi Honda the difference between its electricity consumed and electricity generated by the dealer’s photovoltaic solar system. Ron Rossi, the dealership’s owner, saw a steep decrease in the electricity he consumed from the utility, and a corresponding steep decrease on his utility bills.
The Challenge of “Greening” Auto Dealers
Automobile dealers have unique energy use characteristics that are different from other typical 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 demand.
Honda, which launched its U.S. “Green Dealer” program in 2012, has developed a measurable and verifiable system to help its dealers achieve significant reductions in energy use and cut their CO2 emissions. The voluntary program has three successive target levels – Silver, Gold and Platinum – that allow dealers to develop incremental improvement strategies.
To achieve the entry-level Silver award, dealers must achieve a 10 percent minimum reduction in total energy use. The Gold level award requires dealers to reduce their energy use by 30 percent or more. To date, 200 dealers have enrolled in the program, and 28 have earned an award.
Rossi is the first Electric Grid Neutral Honda dealer in the country and the fourth to earn the highest level Platinum Environmental Leadership Award from Honda.
Honda Environmental Leadership
Over the past three decades, Honda has been working to reduce the environmental impact of its products, manufacturing and logistics operations, and facilities in North America. These initiatives are reported annually in the company’s North American Environmental Report. Expanding its environmental initiatives to its dealer body is the logical next step in the company’s effort to reduce waste, energy use and CO2emissions across the full spectrum of its operations and throughout the lifecycle of Honda and Acura products, including at the point of sale.
In 2006, Honda became the first automaker to announce voluntary CO2 emissions reduction targets for its global fleet of automobile, power sports and power equipment products and its global network of manufacturing plants. Today, the company is striving for even greater reductions in CO2 emissions that contribute to global climate change, while also working to minimize waste, water use and the total environmental footprint of its operations worldwide.
Steven Center, vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., in charge of the company’s Environmental Business Development Office, said:
“Rossi Honda has pioneered a new era for automobile dealers in which they too can be environmental leaders. By virtually eliminating CO2 from the consumption of electricity and saving money in the process, Rossi has created a path that other dealers can follow. By becoming the first Electric Grid Neutral dealer in the nation, we want to demonstrate that even automobile dealers, which are big energy consumers, can take a leadership role in being environmentally responsible businesses, and save money at the same time,” said Ron Rossi, owner of Rossi Honda. “We encourage all dealers to join us in this effort.”