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Bankrate's 2007 New Car Guide
Going green
Environmental concerns are bringing major changes -- right down to the cars we drive.
Going green
Dealership jumps on green bandwagon
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Even the building's positioning was designed to make a difference. The dealership faces east, meaning the sun hits the back of the building in the hot afternoons and evenings, where the green wall is located to absorb its rays.

A green incentive
While the environment played a part in Lobb's decision, there was also a financial advantage to building a LEED-certified dealership. "When you start an investment, you've got to make sure there's a financial payback somewhere along the way," Lobb says.

The building itself cost about 7 percent more to build than a non LEED-certified dealership would have cost, Lobb estimates. However, in the long run, Lobb knew he would realize savings.

"Energy costs are going up," he says. "We started with the premise that we could design a facility that would be as energy efficient as any automobile dealer ever built, within financial reason. We determined what our potential energy savings would be and it appears that we're going to be approaching 20 percent a year in energy savings from this facility. So if you save 20 percent a year and energy costs go up and you continue to save, then you're the winner."

The dealership will also appeal to that segment of drivers who are serious about the environment. "There are people who will buy because they feel they're doing their part for the environment," says Erich Merkle, an analyst with auto consulting company IRN, Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich. "They want to feel good about their purchase."

As the first dealer to embrace the standards, Lobb says it would not only be "the right thing to do" for more dealers to follow suit, it would also be a good investment in that dealership's future.

"If someone is contemplating a new facility or a remodel, it just makes sense to consider this," Lobb says.

-- Posted: Oct. 11, 2007
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