LaFontaine Automotive Group, a dealership based in Dexter, MI, hired two firms to upgrade its facility for energy efficiency and cost savings – and as a method to market its environmentally responsible credentials. GridNavigator, a provider of an intelligent energy management system, and Bloom General Contracting, a construction management firm, have a partnership to promote green buildings to GM dealerships throughout the US. LaFontaine is their first joint customer.

A promotional video tells the story of why this established dealership brought in GridNavigator and Bloom – to make the building's energy consumption much more efficient through smart, integrated technologies, saving a whopping $60,000 a year on its energy bill and providing customers with the message that LaFontaine Automotive is a place that takes care of the environment. Customers are shown the GridNavigator display board that demonstrates how the facility's energy is managed for energy efficiency optimization. The dealership has been improved by adding LED lighting and an efficient heating and air conditioning system, as you can see in the video below.

The Chevrolet Volt is shown throughout the video, though it's never once mentioned by anyone interviewed. It does suggest that making a dealership Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified and energy efficient is a logical way to market products like the Volt. It makes sales that much easier, according to Robert Halfacre, sales consultant at LaFontaine. "The sales process here at LaFontaine starts from the moment the customer walks in the front door," Halfacre says in the video. "We use this building to sell cars."

Ryan LaFontaine, owner of the dealer group, appreciates the energy cost savings and how making these changes has been strengthening marketing and customer relationships. "The initial investment in energy upgrades has paid for itself in marketing exposure alone and allows us to align our brand with today's energy- and environment-conscious buyers," he says.



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GM Dealerships Embrace Green Building to Align Brands with Hybrid and Electric Car Sales Efforts

Energy efficient showrooms with GridNavigator energy management systems appeal to environment- and energy-conscious customers

REDMOND, Wash. and DETROIT–(November 1, 2012)–GridNavigator, provider of an intelligent energy management system (EMS), and Bloom General Contracting, a premier full-service construction management firm, today announced a partnership to promote green building to GM auto dealerships throughout the U.S. and their first joint customer, LaFontaine Automotive Group.

As auto manufacturers increase their mix of energy efficient vehicles, dealers are aligning their brands with their products by designing and building greener showrooms. Design for LEED certification combined with the GridNavigator EMS provide a long-term advantage by maintaining energy efficiency over the life of the building by continually optimizing energy usage across advanced LED lighting, HVAC, and renewable energy systems. In addition, the energy and environmental savings can be broadcast real-time to the dealer showroom in a customer-friendly display.

"With a strong commitment to green building, auto dealers can connect with customers, control energy costs and differentiate their brand," said Alan Bloom, chairman and CEO, Bloom General Contracting. "The LaFontaine Automotive Group is a trailblazer in green auto dealerships and is recognizing the benefits of being a leader."

LaFontaine Automotive Group Establishes Green Dealership Lead

Bloom General Contracting's most recent installation of the turnkey GridNavigator EMS is at LaFontaine's Dexter, Michigan facility. The installation includes GridNavigator's lux sensors, which control interior lights and allow use of daylighting to reduce energy demands; smart equipment controls; and intraday forecasting analytics that automatically optimize rooftop heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units. The aggregate savings are shown real time in the LaFontaine showroom on a customer-friendly GridNavigator energy kiosk. Dealerships can also choose to manually control their lighting and HVAC systems by changing settings through a web-based application via a smart phone or tablet computer.

"Our green dealership saves us $60,000 per year in energy costs and has strengthened our customer relationships," said Ryan LaFontaine, owner, LaFontaine Automotive Group. "The initial investment in energy upgrades has paid for itself in marketing exposure alone and allows us to align our brand with today's energy- and environment-conscious buyers."

"Educating customers on energy efficiency opportunities for our businesses, homes and communities supports the sales process of fuel efficient vehicles," said Mary Alice Kurtz, program manager, Facility Sustainability Initiatives, GM. "By purposefully integrating sustainability into our showrooms, we help our customers to better understand our energy alternatives, advanced technologies and our ongoing commitment to a more sustainable future."

The cloud-based GridNavigator EMS is a combination of a smart network of lighting and HVAC control systems connecting multiple energy endpoints across different facilities. The data from the endpoints is communicated back to the remote GridNavigator data center and intraday energy forecast engine for continuous remote monitoring, controlling and optimizing. GridNavigator also used the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark each dealership, an initial step in the ENERGY STAR certification process.

"Our low-cost EMS is a strong sales enabler for auto dealers," said Al Cabrini, CEO, GridNavigator. "Our partnership with Bloom General Contracting will continue to deliver premier green building solutions to the auto dealer market."

GridNavigator is focused on mid-market customers with distributed facilities across campuses or regions. GridNavigator is a value-added reseller (VAR) and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partner of Echelon Corporation, an energy control networking company with the world's most widely deployed proven, open standard, multi-application platform, LonWorks.

About Bloom

Alan Bloom founded Bloom General Contracting, Inc. in 1985 and has since turned the company into a premier full-service construction management firm, specializing in auto dealership construction. Our expert team has successfully completed over 400 customized construction projects. The professional staff at Bloom stands ready to implement a comprehensive construction program designed to guide your project from concept to completion. More information is available at www.Bloomgc.com.

About GridNavigator

GridNavigator is a leading provider of intelligent energy management systems (EMS) for commercial & industrial applications. It offers the industry's first intraday energy forecasting service. The company was founded in 2009 and has customers in the education, government, property management and healthcare sectors. More information is available at www.GridNavigator.com.

# # #

Echelon and LonWorks are registered trademarks of Echelon Corporation registered in the United States and other countries. GridNavigator is a registered trademark of GridNavigator Inc. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is great! I love working for LaFontaine Automotive Group! Keep up the great work!! Jenna LaFontaine Dearborn
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Actually, all grade school grammar criticisms aside (seriously ABG, wtf?), it is a good idea. One of my client companies works on HVAC (air conditioning) control systems. They install new control systems, with smart thermostats, remote site monitors, etc. the systems make existing systems so efficient that they pay for themselves very quickly. Not a 10 year, or even 5 year proposition. If the systems are amortized, then the monthly savings on larger buildings pays the system payments! This is the best type of green energy savings. In sme cases, business owners, caring for the environment that they may be, have to look at the bottom line first. Here, the bottom line is covered. One can be a mean spirited, hateful profit seeking, children starving (you all know the litany) company, but still install this because you make MORE PROFIT by installing. Green technologies that can do this will be the ones that succeed.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        "Green technologies that can do this will be the ones that succeed." You mean hype, federal/state subsidies, overpromised returns, finished with a side of global warming hysteria isn't a recipe for $$$hot sales$$$? Get outta here with that nonsense eZee ;D
          Ford Future
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          "Global Warming Denial Hysteria" -> Two Words: Hurricane Sandy.
          Ford Future
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          It's clear the Democratic party has to Target the NUTS. Any and Every GW Denier has to be put on the hit list. But, we might want to do some advertising on the Limbaugh show, to keep the republican party going ape **** insane, so we can wipe them all out.
          Marco Polo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          @ Ford Future "Any and Every GW Denier has to be put on the hit list.... republican party going ape **** insane, so we can wipe them all out." Ford, you're starting to worry me ! We're not going to be reading about you on the news, holding off a S.W.A.T team, any time soon, are we ?
          2 wheeled menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Wow Ford, you are really insane.
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        @ Ezee, Geo-thermal power is worth considering in some areas. Especially for those premises with large spaces, easily drilled. The other day I was watching the excavation of the underground tanks in an old gasoline service station, and was wondering about the potential to use these sites as molten salt (or similar) energy storage . (Just a thought .....)
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Marcopolo
          @Ford I don't think 2wheel was anti-environment, and I doubt as a libertarian, former democrat, he is a big Limbaugh fan, but his agreement (correct ms if I am wrong, 2wheel) was to say that when green technologies, such as the smart control systems I mentioned, can also prove more profitable, they will then succeed. And succeed wildly. Green technologies that require government subsidies, directl paymnets to buy, or fear of some catastrophe (whether the fear is right or wrong), will not ultimately succeed. The system I mentioned pays for itself and makes money in the long term, so it is successful. The tesla competes straight up, no apologies, with others in the same price range (beats them, actually), so that car stands a good chance at success.
      Marco Polo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Jon LeSage article about Ryan LaFontaine's use of 'green technology ' to operate and promote his dealership, maybe a tad ungrammatical, and reads like a PR piece, but why not ? I applaud Ryan LaFontaine in his efforts, and wish more businesses would develop the same marketing approach. It's good to see a positive, good news item.
        Ford Future
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        $60,000 is $60,000 of profit.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ford Future
          @ Ford Future, Quite right Ford. Eliminating unnecessary (and even harmful ) overheads is a good way to conserve profits.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      O_O fix the headline, autoblog! Anyway, silly pr stunt imho.
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        I read the headline like three times. I kept thinking....wait....they are building efficiency? The building is being turned into efficiency? Is this what happens as the bullding approaches the speed of light, it turns into efficiency? The mind boggles...
        Aaron
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        The headline is confusing at best, incorrect grammar at worst. That being said, even if this is a PR stunt, it saves the dealership money. That is real savings, regardless of the spin they put on it.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just wanted to drop in and say thanks to the Autoblog.com for sharing part of our story at LaFontaine Chevrolet in Dexter, MI. We're working on putting together a video series that will expand on the unique aspects of our building that make it LEED certified. The LaFontaine Family places a huge value on energy efficient & green buildings. LaFontaine Cadillac Buick GMC in Highland, MI was the first Gold LEED Certified Dealership in the country and the soon-to-open LaFontaine Volkswagen in Dearborn, MI is striving to achieve LEED certification as well. For a little more insight in to the building of LaFontaine Chevrolet, check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htttEzHiYAw If anyone has any specific questions, feel free to ask them here or stop by our Facebook page and we'll do our best to answer them for you. (https://www.facebook.com/LaFontaineChevrolet) Best Regards, Jason Stum Digital Marketing Manager LaFontaine Automotive Group
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        Well said, Jason ! But be careful, many more dealers like you, and the fine old tradition of hating car salespeople will become obsolete !
        BipDBo
        • 2 Years Ago
        Congratulations on your achievement! I appreciate the effort that goes into LEED certification. I was the professional engineer for a Toyota dealership in Florida that received gold. I designed the HVAC systems, supervised the pluming design, and flushed out the LEED paperwork for credits associated with this work, such as the EA credit 1 (energy usage), water efficiency, etc. If you were the first, you didn't beat us by much! We got our certification in August. I had no idea that we were even in the running for first to gold. Could you have been not the first dealership to get LEED gold, butrather the first to achieve it under the newer, stricter criteria? We achieved ours through the older LEED NC2.2 criteria. I'm interested in knowing more about how the GridNavigator system is working for you. We did not implement such a sophisticated monitoring and control system. Our HVAC systems were controlled with Honeywell programmable thermostats that can be later networked into a full DDC system for a fraction of the price of most DDC packages. Power consumption is monitored within the electrical room in categories such as interior lights, exterior lights, sales building HVAC, and service garage HVAC. we did not, however really implement and central control. Our opinion and experience is that such systems can often be problematic in implementation, and in practice, very rarely significantly reduce total energy usage. I can see, however, two major benefits to this GridNavigator system: * The video implies that it staggers start-up of various system to minimize the total peak KW draw. While this does not decrease total kw*hr draw over a monthly cycle, it will reduce the power bill in may areas where you are billed a charge for the peak (spike) power flow. * This system gives a large, polished user interface right in the showroom. Having an interactive display showing energy usage as compared to the baseline simulated usage is a unique, interesting experience for customers that may actually help sell some cars. Our client shows off the building features in a more old-scholl fashion. I was told that they had a scale model of the building built and put on display in the showroom. The display points out so many of the green features of the building that would otherwise be hidden, such as the solar panels on the roof, the storm water retention tanks hidden behind the service garage, or the LED parking lot lights. I'd be interested in knowing how the implementation of the GridNavigator system went for you. Did it have any snags? Do you believe that it is all working properly? What was the approximate cost of the system and in retrospect, do you consider it worth the expense?
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