There are many green cars on the road, but how eco-friendly are the dealerships that sell them?

Rossi Honda of Vineland, New Jersey, claims to be the first U.S. car dealer to have become "Electric-Grid Neutral," meaning it uses no net electricity from its local utility.

To unplug itself from the grid, Rossi Honda installed solar panels in 2012, which were able to generate 90 percent of the dealership's power. As a bonus, the canopies also provide weather protection for cars parked outside.

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Rossi Honda dealership, Vineland, New Jersey

Rossi Honda dealership, Vineland, New Jersey

The dealer subsequently replaced metal halide lamps in its lot with LED lamps, achieving its goal of grid neutrality.

Rossi Honda estimates that going grid neutral will save 321,000-kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, as well as 341,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions.

The effort earned Rossi a "Platinum" Honda Environmental Leadership Award, which the Japanese automaker gives dealerships that achieve grid neutrality or receive LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Rossi is the fourth U.S. dealer to earn the top "Platinum" award since Honda launched its "Green Dealer" program in 2012. The program provides technical assistance to dealers looking to reduce their environment impact.

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There are currently 200 dealers enrolled in the program; 24 have earned "Gold" or "Silver" awards for reducing emissions by 30 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

And Honda isn't the only automaker whose dealers are going green.

Back in 2010, Kendall Toyota of Eugene, Oregon became the first dealership to receive a LEED Platinum certification--the highest level achievable--thanks to a carefully-designed building and supplemental solar power.

As cars become greener, it seems logical that conscientious dealers would want to reduce the environmental impact of purchasing them.

Equally powerful, however, is the potential to lower facility costs by cutting or eliminating the electric bill.

With photovoltaic solar panels at record low prices--and even lower levels to come--we can expect to see more dealers greening their facilities and unhooking from the grid.


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