Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC

Planet Subaru in Hanover, Massachusetts strives to prove that environmental responsibility can be good for business, especially when it comes to energy-efficiency. In 1998, brothers Jeff and John Morrill took over a failed Subaru dealership and committed to operating the most environmentally-friendly business possible. They used energy-efficiency measures throughout the process of renovating an existing building and reduced energy-consumption over comparable auto dealerships by more than 30 percent.

One of the first measures was to design the facility's walls and windows to maximize passive solar heat in the winter. In addition, windows are operable and can be opened during temperate seasons so heating and cooling expense can be eliminated.

"We think working with Mother Nature is better than working against her," Jeff Morrill says. Block wall construction provides additional insulation while river rock roofing minimizes solar absorption and reduces cooling loads. In keeping with their practical, as well as their seasonal, thinking, the Morrill brothers provide staff with warm fleece jackets in winter and air-wicking polo shirts in summer allowing thermostats to be adjusted for maximum energy-efficiency. Microprocessor-controlled, programmable thermostats have been installed in four zones to coordinate temperatures with occupancy. The overhead shop door is designed for rapid opening and closing to preserve heated or cooled air. Car wash water is recycled and residual heat is reclaimed. 

All exterior lighting was upgraded and three outdoor lighting zones were created and tied to photo sensors and time clocks. In addition to the savings they realize in actual energy costs, the Morrill brothers worked with the National Grid Small Business Services Program which reimbursed 80 percent of the cost of their lighting upgrades.

The Morrill brothers have also worked to involve staff in their energy saving efforts. Closing procedures have been developed throughout the dealership stressing that all electrical devices including computers are turned off at night to reduce phantom consumption. A "Lump of Coal" award was instituted in 2006 to recognize the team member who cared most about saving energy and managers receive bonuses based on reduction in energy consumption.

Overall, Planet Subaru is saving more than $22,000 annually by saving 125,000 kWh, more than 1,300 therms and preventing about 220,000 pounds of CO2 emissions from being released into the atmosphere.