TORRANCE, Calif., Jan. 10, 2009 -- Auto dealerships are now playing a leading role in the development of buildings and facilities meeting the highest environmental construction standards.
Three Toyota dealerships have become the first in the country to receive certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) through its Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) program. Three other Toyota dealerships are in the review process to receive LEED certification and multiple dealerships in the planning process could be certified in 2009.
“Dealers recognize the advantages and opportunities of building green,” says Dennis Thornhill, corporate manager, retail market development at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. “Research shows that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of businesses in their community that are taking a leadership role in addressing environmental issues. It makes good business sense to dealers who will re-coup their investment through energy savings, while decreasing their environmental impact.”
Pat Lobb Toyota (McKinney, Texas), was the first auto dealership in the country to be recognized by the USGBC with Silver LEED certification. Toyota of Rockwall (Texas) and Mark Miller Toyota (Salt Lake City, Utah), which both received Gold certification, followed in 2008. In addition, Caldwell Toyota in Conway, Ark., Kendall Toyota in Eugene, Ore., and Jerry Durant Toyota in Granbury, Texas, have completed dealership construction and are undergoing the LEED certification process.
The USGBC is a non-profit organization committed to expanding sustainable building practices. It provides various levels of LEED certification based on evaluations in such areas as sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. The USGBC reports that 48 percent of the nation’s energy is used by buildings, including 70 percent of the nation’s electric use.
To achieve Gold certification status, Toyota of Rockwall made extensive use of recycled and energy-saving materials. For instance, four water cisterns capable of holding 63,500 gallons of rainwater and air conditioning condensation are used for landscape irrigation. The landscape itself consists of native plants, trees and grasses that are drought and disease-resistant. The roof is made of materials that reflect 90 percent of the sun’s heat energy.
“Once we decided to do a green dealership, we decided to stretch the envelope and go for the Gold,” said Steve Jackson, owner of Toyota of Rockwall. “We hope to play a leadership role in building environmental awareness in the community and to be a place where students come to learn about the environment.”
All certified Toyota dealerships were built as part of the company’s Eco-Image USA II initiative that also puts an emphasis on the environment. Under the program, panels used on the building’s exterior are made up of 90 percent recycled aluminum. The distinctive portal entryway uses non-lead glass and shades the showroom from direct sunlight. LED lighting is used rather than incandescent and fluorescent lights to further reduce energy use. Toyota also is assisting dealers with cutting edge green options, including different power sources such as solar, wind and geothermal.