As global attention increasingly focuses on all facets of sustainability, more attention is being paid to the infrastructure that manufactures and sells cars and trucks.

Honda has taken a particularly active approach, launching a "green dealer" program to provide technical assistance to dealers looking to reduce energy consumption.

Successful dealers can be rewarded with its Environmental Leadership Award.

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Now, the Japanese carmaker has codified lessons learned from that program into a "Green Dealer Guide."

The 93-page guide contains step-by-step instructions on upgrading the efficiency of existing facilities or building greener new ones.

Honda Dealership

Honda Dealership

Available for download on a new website for dealers, it includes information on different methods of improvement, such as installing high-efficiency lighting, optimizing climate-control systems, managing water use, and adding alternative-energy sources like solar panels.

It also includes estimates of energy savings and a points system for dealer aiming to get one of Honda's Environmental Leadership Awards.

The award is divided into levels based on the projected amount of energy saved: "Silver" for a 10-percent reduction, "Gold" for a 30-percent reduction, and "Platinum" for a 50-percent reduction.

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Honda says the guidelines are completely voluntary, but believes dealers will find it worth their while because of the eventual cost savings that come with reduced energy use.

Dealers first have to pay for upgrades to their facilities, though, including a site assessment called for in the guide. Honda says it can also help finance "larger, capital-intensive upgrades."

Recommendations from the "Green Dealer Guide" are also now incorporated into Honda's standard Dealership Design Guidelines. That means in some cases Honda will only recommend the "green" option--such as LED lighting for showrooms and parking lots.

Rossi Honda dealership, Vineland, New Jersey

Rossi Honda dealership, Vineland, New Jersey

Those guidelines are optional as well, although many dealers use them as a blueprint.

Encouraging green practices in a stronger way is a logical next step for Honda's green-dealer program, which has already produced some significant results.

Since its launch in 2012, the program has helped 45 Honda and Acura dealerships collectively cut 5,000 tons of annual CO2 emissions, and save enough electricity to power more than 600 U.S. homes.

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So far one dealer--Rossi Honda in Vineland, New Jersey--also achieved "electric-grid neutrality" earlier this year, meaning it uses no electricity from the local utility.

Honda claims reducing the electricity consumption of the roughly 17,000 car dealers in the U.S. by just 10 percent could eliminate 800,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually.


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