Motorcars Honda, Cleveland

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When Chuck Gile and his son Trevor wanted to take their vehicle business to the next level, the prospect of becoming the world’s first certified carbon neutral car dealership through BP Target Neutral hadn’t occurred to them.

“The idea came to us from BP and Castrol and without them we’d never have thought to tackle a project like this – it was something we didn’t even know was possible” according to Chuck who is President of Motorcars Honda in Cleveland, Ohio in the United States.

Honda – a major car manufacturer – had set a challenge to all its dealerships to reduce their carbon emissions by 10%. Working with Castrol and BP Target Neutral, the Cleveland dealership decided to go much further and tackle 100% of the carbon emissions associated with its business. An audit of the dealership emissions and of the cars it sells was undertaken.

Motorcars Honda and BP Target Neutral drew up a plan detailing the ways in which each source of emissions could be addressed using the ‘reduce, replace and neutralise’ approach to identifying the most cost and carbon effective solutions.

Work was already underway to transform the dealership building through the installation of a large solar panel roof whose steel beams were partly made from recycled cars! This replaced 70% of the business electricity supply with clean renewable electricity generated by the dealership itself saving significant costs and carbon emissions.

Inside, electricity use was significantly reduced by the adoption of LG’s Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology to provide heat and cooling and minimise efficiency losses. The system is engineered to provide savings by reducing or eliminating the need for ductwork, large distribution fans, multiple water pumps and water piping. Lighting provision was transformed for showroom and service areas – and is now supplied by low energy LEDs.

The result was a building whose facilities have earned a LEED certification from the US Green Building Council and the admiration of customers and staff alike.

To achieve full carbon neutrality, the business set out to neutralise the remaining carbon emissions with the help of Castrol and BP Target Neutral.

Jon Lee, from BP Target Neutral explained: “Inevitably when seeking to become fully carbon neutral, there will be those carbon emissions that are simply beyond the abilities of a business like a car dealership to reduce or replace. Carbon offsetting offers a way to neutralise those ‘hard to tackle’ emissions cost effectively by enabling Honda Motorcars to purchase carbon credits which financially support carbon reducing projects elsewhere.”

In the United States, BP Target Neutral has purchased carbon credits generated by the carbon-reducing projects of several universities including a major geo-thermal energy system which replaced the use of high carbon electricity sources. BP Target Neutral holds a portfolio of carbon credits by investing in such projects in the US and around the world which are highly regulated and verified by independent authorities. By purchasing verified carbon credits which help eliminate carbon emissions elsewhere, Motorcars Honda is able to ‘offset’ that part of its own carbon emissions beyond its effective control.

For Motorcars Honda, the benefits have been tangible with customer and staff satisfaction scores rising and the dealership being awarded Ohio Business of the Year, Honda’s Environmental Leadership Platinum Award as well as LG’s ‘Leadership Commitment to the Environment Award.

Managing partner, Trevor Giles said: “It’s very rewarding to see people appreciate what we’re doing. What excites me the most is that we’re making a difference – and if you can make it work in Cleveland, then you can make it work where you are.”