The AutoFair Companies are an automotive dealership group located in Manchester, NH, which occupies four facilities. They include dealerships for Ford, Honda, and Hyundai as well as the Manchester Collision Center. More than 300 employees provide the sales, service, parts, and collision repair offered by AutoFair, which encompasses more than 110,000 square feet in the four buildings.
AutoFair was introduced to the many free tools and resources of ENERGY STAR in 2007 when they joined the National Automobile Dealers Association's (NADA) Energy Stewardship Initiative and took the ENERGY STAR Challenge to reduce energy usage by 10 percent annually. Their energy-efficiency program has continued to evolve and is overseen by the company's Green Committee today.
The Green Committee that oversees energy and sustainability programs consists of representatives from each facility as well as the corporate CEO and CFO. Monthly meetings include project discussions, research review, vendor presentations, and review of cost-benefit analysis for all suggested projects. The result is a steady flow of projects that meet criteria for sustainable operation as well as for affordability and return-on-investment. All employees are invited to participate in the Green Committee's suggestion process through an Intranet Website.
AutoFair has used 'A Dealers Guide to ENERGY STAR: Putting Energy into Profits,' published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR and NADA. It is based on the popular ENERGY STAR guidebook for small business, 'Putting Energy Into Profits.'
Each facility manages and tracks its energy usage and costs through the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager system. Three of the four facilities have currently achieved energy usage reductions of greater than 15 percent. The Green Committee also reviews each facility's biannual environmental compliance audit to both verify compliance and explore and share ideas to aid in energy reduction.
An ENERGY STAR purchase policy for all electronic equipment purchases is important to AutoFair's procurement policy and it is published in the employee handbook. The policy stresses that purchasers should seek products that have earned the ENERGY STAR label, or if the product category is not covered by ENERGY STAR, to seek the most energy-efficient model.
CEO Andy Crews established the AutoFair Green Committee. "We must walk the walk and show that an automobile business can not just sell hybrid vehicles to be green," he says. "We must also do our best to minimize the operations' environmental impact. It's our belief that a profitable auto business can operate hand-in-hand with one that uses the best available technology and opportunities to prevent pollution."
"We joined in the ENERGY STAR and NADA initiative because of the win-win nature of energy efficiency," adds Crews. "We were reducing our energy usage and preventing the pollution associated with energy generation, but we were also cutting down on operating costs. Those savings allow us to undertake other projects." Today the Green Committee has enlisted the assistance of the environmental specialist from the New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association (NHADA) and relies heavily on NHADA's "Roadmap to Sustainability" program, developed by University of New Hampshire Assistant Professor Patrick Miller.
A major project undertaken in 2009 was the conversion to Light Emitting Diode (LED) lot lighting at AutoFair Honda. All the exterior parking lot lighting, which was sodium vapor and metal halide, was replaced with LED lighting with reflector technology. "This was first for a New Hampshire auto dealership, and we think it may a first for the state," Crews says. "It was a leap into an emerging technology, but it will reduce energy use and environmental impact without diminishing the lighting we need for display purposes."
According to the manufacturer, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equates to reducing consumption of 35,580 gallons of gasoline. The annual energy cost savings is estimated at $55,721, plus another $1,673 in yearly maintenance costs. AutoFair partnered with Public Service of New Hampshire for advice and feedback on the project while taking advantage of their custom rebate program for businesses, which repaid 35 percent of the cost of about $84,000. The exterior lighting project, as well as some other energy-efficiency projects, has earned the AutoFair dealerships a substantial amount of local and regional press coverage.
AutoFair is continuing its commitment to lower energy costs. All four facilities have recently received New Hampshire utility energy efficiency audits and have scheduled lighting upgrade projects on fixtures.
AutoFair Companies estimate that they are saving nearly $94,000 annually in energy costs for the operation of their three auto dealerships. The savings of more than 580,000 kWh of electricity and 802,000 cubic feet of natural gas per year represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the CO2 emissions from the annual electricity use of over 48 homes.
New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association
New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association
Road Map to Sustainability