If you're planning on buying a green car, have you ever wondered if you'll be making the purchase at a green dealership?
As cars get more efficient, the carbon emissions related to the infrastructure for manufacturing and selling them should be considered as well.
Honda has made some efforts in that direction with its "green dealer" program.
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Launched in 2012, it encourages Honda dealerships—as well as those of the automaker's Acura luxury brand—to adopt energy-efficient practices, and offers guidance on how to cut energy use.
The program has now helped two dealerships achieve grid-neutral status, meaning they use no net electricity from local utilities.
Brandfon Honda of Branford, Connecticut, has just become the second dealer to reach that goal.
Rossi Honda dealership, Vineland, New Jersey
"Sure, it helps our bottom line, but more importantly, it helps society as a whole," Jeff Brandon, owner of Brandfon Honda, said in a press release on the Honda green dealer program.
The Connecticut dealership joins Rossi Honda in Vineland, New Jersey, which achieved grid-neutral status in 2014.
Separate from dealerships that achieve grid-neutral status, Honda gives awards to those that reduce energy consumption by certain amounts.
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Dealerships that achieve a 10-percent reduction get a "Silver" award, a 30-percent reduction earns a "Gold" award, and a 50-percent reduction garners the highest "Platinum" award.
In 2014, Honda published a 93-page "Green Dealer Guide" with suggestions for dealerships participating in the program.
These include installing LED lighting, solar panels, or rainwater-collection systems, replacing older heating and air-conditioning units with more energy-efficient systems, and using programmable thermostats and lighting motion sensors.
As of October 2016, 468 U.S. Honda and Acura dealers were signed up to participate in the program, and 118 had received an award.
Energy-efficiency improvements at these dealerships have reduced annual carbon-dioxide emissions by 12,500 tons, and saved over $2,500,000 in annual operating costs, according to Honda.
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The Japanese automaker's program may be the largest concerted effort by a carmaker to reduce its dealers' energy use, although individual dealers for other carmakers have taken it upon themselves to cut electricity consumption.
As well as being a good thing for society at large, there's also self-interest at play on the part of the dealership's owners.
While cutting the carbon footprint of cars on the lots is an important goal, the promise of reduced operating costs may very well be the most potent incentive for dealers.