Honda Promotes Sustainability at Car Dealers—and at Home
Honda wants to be at the forefront of automotive brands by expanding its sustainability commitment, which put it at #3 on Interbrand's latest Best Global Green Brands ranking.
Its latest efforts takes it beyond beyond the alternative-energy vehicles, energy-efficient factories and green marketing that seemingly every car company is doing these days. The Japanese automaker's forays into green dealerships and smart home technology demonstrate its willingness to push the sustainability frontier forward within its industry.
As part of an ongoing program that the company says has helped 45 Honda and Acura dealers in the U.S. reduce their annual CO2 emissions by approximately 5,000 tons and cut their cumulative annual operating costs by more than $800,000, Honda's new Green Dealer Guide aims to help dealerships and other commercial buildings with high energy loads become more energy efficient.
Honda's reasons for doing so range beyond just being a responsible environmental citizen. "We have heard through multiple engagements with customers and dealers that this is an important part of the consideration for purchasing vehicles," Ryan Harty, manager of Honda's U.S. Environmental Business Development Office (EBDO), told brandchannel.
The 93-page guide instructs its dealers on how to reduce their energy consumption and save money on utilities as well as show off their own green chops. The recommendations include things like investing in an efficient rooftop HVAC system with advanced controls, installing LED lighting with automatic controls, recycling waste, using native landscaping and putting in high-speed garage doors in the service department to cut loss of heat or conditioned air. Although the guide synthesizes many of the general guidelines that Honda has collected over the last three years, the company also says it's willing to customize a plan for each dealer.
American auto dealers are accustomed to growing demands from car brands to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in their dealerships in order to achieve the brand's standards for design and expression, and to expand and train staff to familiarize themselves with increasingly complex infotainment technologies in vehicles. So it's understandable that some automotive retailers—who are, after all, independent entrepreneurs—might balk at ponying up still more capital investment for extra energy-efficiency measures.
What's more, Honda shows them how "a 10-percent reduction in [energy and water] costs is very achievable," Raminta Jautokas, program manager for Green Dealer, told brandchannel. "We understand that these are businesses we don't own, so we have an incentive and a carrot for them. It's a win-win situation."
The guide is the product of American Honda's Environmental Business Development Office (EBDO), a 3-year-old initiative that was established to reduce the environmental impact of Honda's operations and create "achievable pathways to enable a low carbon lifestyle for Honda customers."
Among other projects, EBDO launched Honda's recent Smart Home initiative to show off how energy-management technologies in houses can interface with electric vehicles—a major theme at the upcoming International Consumer Electronics Show.
"We want people to have confidence that Honda is a sustainable brand, and has those values, and that's kind of inseparable from the overall brand experience," Harty said. "Honda has consistently been a leader in environmental performance, and people expect that of us."