National Automobile Dealers Association

Case Studies

Return to The Greener Dealership

From upgrading existing facilities to building brand new stores, dealerships across the country are making the investment to go green. These dealerships are glowing examples of how any business can slash energy use and boost the bottom line through innovative thinking and careful planning. Got pictures of your own you'd like to share? Send them to And don't forget to take the Green Dealership Survey.

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Subaru of Plano, Texas

Fitzgerald Auto Mall, Bethesda, Md.

JN Automotive Group, Honolulu, Hawaii


Mungenast Lexus, St. Louis, Mo.


Caldwell Toyota, Conway, Ark.

Hand Motors, Manchester Center, Vt.

Subaru of Plano (Texas)

 Subaru of Plano (Texas) Dealer David Thomas

When Dealer David Thomas started building a new store for Subaru of Plano (Texas) in 2006, the city had traditionally lush landscaping requirements. But after a severe drought struck the affluent suburb, the city let him out of those requirements in exchange for "xeroscape" landscaping.

Native Texas shrubs, cacti, and heather grass were installed for about the same cost as traditional landscaping. Says Thomas, "It's a higher-end look. It makes us stand out from our neighbors [Dodge and Mercedes dealerships]." The store also saves $1,200 a month in water costs and $1,000 in landscaping maintenance. "Our Dallas store is about one-quarter the size and the water bill is twice as high," says Thomas.

Customers have taken notice, as well. Thomas says he has gotten raves about his store's water-saving landscaping design. "It's a good fit with the Subaru customer because we have a more environmentally conscious consumer," he says.


Caldwell Toyota, Conway, Ark.

 Dealers Jack and Jay Caldwell

 Watch the video

When Jay Caldwell told some friends he was planning to build a “green” dealership, they were thinking paint. He had a lot more in mind. With a steady increase in sales and service appointments, Caldwell knew he needed more space; the challenge was deciding how best to use it.

In the showroom, Caldwell installed five skylights called Solar Tubes to collect natural light. He now says he wishes he’d bought more. “They outshine any of our other fixtures,” he says. When the sun goes down, Caldwell turns on the store’s T5 compact fluorescent fixtures to light the 34,000-square-foot store. The dealership also collects rainwater and condensation from air conditioners in an 11,000-gallon cistern to run its car wash and irrigation system.

Though it’s nearly three times the size of his previous facility, Caldwell says his total energy expenses will rise by only about 30 percent. "I think that within 10 years this will be the standard way to build a car dealership," he says. "Not only is it the right thing to do; it's also the smart thing to do."


Dave Mungenast Lexus of St. Louis (Mo.)

 The Mungenast family breaking ground

Dave Mungenast Lexus of St. Louis hopes to become the first Lexus dealership to be certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system. The Mungenast family, including dealer Ray Mungenast, held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction on Earth Day, April 22.

The new $16 million dealership will feature 70,000-square feet of space and a state-of-the-art 32-bay service area. The roof has been designed with special layers of insulation and a white membrane to reduce heat and lower energy consumption. The HVAC and electrical systems will be highly efficient with advanced controls and sensors. And low-flow fixtures will be installed to reduce water usage. Mungenast also plans to use water-efficient landscaping with native plants to reduce the need for irrigation.

All of the planned improvements follow the Mungenast family’s philosophy to be “good corporate and community citizens,” says Mungenast. Being more environmentally conscious “is not even about this specific dealership,” he adds. “It’s really about us, our customers and the world we leave our kids and grandkids. It’s a concept whose time has come.”


Hand Motors, Manchester Center, Vt.

 Dealers John and Jim Hand

Dealer Jim Hand, recently recognized for his efforts to “go green” when he won the USA Today Dealer Innovation Award, says he owes it all to one of his kids. “It really started with my son,” he says. “He was involved in environmental projects” while attending college in Vermont several years ago. In fact, his son was part of a group of students who traveled across the country in a bus that ran on vegetable oil, making stops at schools and colleges to raise awareness of the benefits of alternative fuels. “This kind of spurred me on to do more at home and at the dealership,” says Hand.

Hand Motors expects to save $30,000 a year in energy costs through such initiatives as heating the mechanical and body shops with a vegetable oil and used motor oil combo; installing Super T8 fluorescent bulbs throughout the store; and adding motion detectors and programmable thermostats.

But Hand says his most important move was working with the nonprofit state utility Efficiency Vermont, which provides technical advice, design guidance, and rebates on energy-efficient products. Hand spent $35,000 to upgrade lighting in both of his buildings, and got back all but $4,000 in rebates. He also saved about $6,000 in energy costs over six months, “so I’ve got my investment back.”


Fitzgerald Auto Mall, Bethesda, Md.

 Dealer Jack Fitzgerald accepting
an award from the EPA

Dealer Jack Fitzgerald says his 12 stores recycled more than four million pounds of material last year. That’s “75 percent of all material we handled,” he says, “which keeps it out of landfills.” Fitzgerald joined the Clean Energy Partnership in Maryland, where most of his dealerships are located, and the facilities are now run by power generated from wind turbines. Fitzgerald was also the first auto dealer to become a U.S. EPA Green Power partner.

Fitzgerald’s business uses an environmental management system to train employees how to reduce the negative impact the stores could have on the environment. But he says investing in renewable-energy companies is one of the most important things dealers can do. “We as an industry are very much interested in encouraging the public and the government to find alternative fuels for us, so we should support development of alternative energy in other areas,” he says. “My wind power comes from America; it’s money spent in the U.S.”

Fitzgerald cares about the environment as well. “It’s not real complicated. And businesses should reflect what their customers want them to do.”


JN Automotive Group, Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawaii dealer Joseph P. Nicolai of JN Automotive Group is building his fourth facility that incorporates sustainable design, this one for selling exotic cars. His Audi/Harley-Davidson store on Maui and a motorcycle dealership in Honolulu recycle water from air-conditioning runoff for washing cars, and replace fossil fuel–generated electricity with solar power. Nicolai's efforts were even featured in an episode of "Go Green Hawaii." (Watch the video.)

The green motorcycle dealership’s monthly power bill averages just $8,000, compared with $23,000 for a similar nongreen facility. Solar power provides 75 percent of the electricity; a wind turbine supplies the rest. Zoned air-conditioning controls, skylights, large windows, and other eco-design elements slash electric use in a state where utilities cost three times the national average. Regular employee bulletins keep everyone up on the company’s green efforts. Employees eagerly turn off lights and air conditioning because “every nickel we save goes into their pension and profit sharing,” says Nicolai.


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