Green Building Tips
Whether you're building or rehabbing, going green has gotten easier as the number of trained pros and green building materials has multiplied. Here are some pointers:
Find an eco-builder
- Visit green stores to see the technology in action.
- Ask your automaker for referrals.
- Get a local builder with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credentials.
- Talk to the builder’s other dealer clients.
- Emphasize your green priority to all involved—from electrical and mechanical engineers to architects.
- Get more product info. (AutoExec's Green Buyer's Guide is a good place to start.)
- Realize there can be many reasons to go green.
Follow these 'Do's and Don'ts'
- Talk to fellow dealers about green actions that have worked for them. Whether you’re building a new store, retrofitting an old one, or just trying to make your operation more energy-efficient, other dealers may have suggestions. Ask around.
- Offer customer-pleasing energy aids like gas discount cards. The cards can show customers that you’re feeling their pain from high gas prices.
- Consider joining Energy Star’s Small Business Network. After pledging to buy Energy Star equipment and upgrade your store’s energy efficiency, you can tap the expertise of Energy Star officials and use its promotional mark.
- Make sure your salespeople know all about any green aspects of cars they sell and can answer all questions. For many buyers now, fuel economy is way more important than horsepower.
- Remember that green building measures may require greater initial investment, but offer big savings in the long run. Dealers who have built with an eye toward energy efficiency have slashed energy expenses.
Don’t “greenwash” your store. In other words, don’t make claims you can’t live up to. If you say that you recycle 100 percent of your used oil, make sure you do.
- Don’t fail to incorporate environmental values throughout your dealership. A Texas Subaru dealer has found that his environmentally conscious customers greatly appreciate his desert-friendly landscaping, which not only saves water but is also a natural fit for the region.
- Don’t think that hybrids are the only fuel-efficient cars selling well. If you’re out of stock or your manufacturer doesn’t have them, steer customers toward other high-mpg cars, including diesels.
- Don’t neglect buyers who need larger vehicles. Even among sport-utes, some are more fuel-efficient than others—and crossovers offer size and practicality without the fuel economy penalty.
- Don’t forget to learn the lingo. Become familiar with terms like “building envelope” and “graywater." (see our "Green Glossary" for help)
Before upgrading, check DSIRE
- Financial incentives are available from states for energy-efficiency upgrades and use of renewables. There are also rules for installations. Find out about both by visiting the Web site of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).
- There are incentives for energy efficiency, incentives for renewables, rules and regs for efficiency, and rules and regs for renewables. Incentives include tax incentives, grants, loan programs, and rebates.
- Highlighted state and local regs include those for building codes, net metering laws, and contractor licensing.
- Using color-coded U.S. maps, click on your own state to see what’s available. The database also offers summary tables of state programs, with links to state Web sites and contact info. Plus, you can search by sector, such as “commercial,” and then by category, such as “air conditioner.”