Helping Others Go Green

As I have often stated in this blog, Ford Motor Company has a very clear blueprint for sustainability that lays out the advanced technologies we will implement in our vehicles to achieve greater fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. But as I have also often noted, sustainability for Ford goes beyond our products to include our processes and our plants. Now we are moving to support sustainability for our dealers as part of our overall commitment to take actions that make both environmental and economic sense.

This past weekend I attended the 2010 National Automobile Dealers Association Convention in Orlando, Florida where we shared with dealers our plan to support their efforts to go green. It was energizing for me to hear about the dealers' passion, not just for Ford and its new products, but also for contributing to a better world. Many of them have already begun to reduce the carbon footprint of their dealerships and are now looking to do even more.

That's why we announced a voluntary program to help them make further improvements. The goal of the program, known as the 'Go Green' Dealership Sustainability Program is simple: Collaborate with dealers to implement cost-effective ways to improve the energy-efficiency of their facilities. The end result will be a lower carbon footprint as well as lower operating costs for our dealers.

At Ford, we've been very successful in applying energy-efficient techniques at our manufacturing and office facilities around the world and want to provide these same tools to our dealers. We are in the process of piloting the new program and have selected three dealers (from Florida, New York and Nevada) to help us build a strong program that we can roll out to the rest of our network.

To get the dealers started, Ford will conduct a comprehensive energy assessment of their facilities. That assessment can identify energy saving options including new technologies and possible renewable energy sources. Dealers can also receive guidance on available federal and state tax credits and initiatives for going green as well as the ability to access corporate pricing on building components. We view this as a true partnership with our dealers and a way to share our philosophies and ideas as well as some of the practices we have put into place in Ford's own facilities. The end result is the ability to deliver tangible solutions to our dealers who are interested in reducing their energy consumption.

Some may choose to go all out and utilize materials, structures and energy systems that could lead to LEED certification. Others may need to start with small steps, and build toward greater efficiency. Actions can range from switching lighting to LED bulbs, installing efficient heating and cooling systems and utilizing lifts lubricated with vegetable oil, to using alternative energy like solar panels to provide power. Each dealer that participates gets a roadmap of how to achieve greater efficiency and reduce operating costs in the short and long term. What is important is that they have the opportunity and the resources to begin to move toward using less energy and generating less CO2 in the long term, a goal we all share.

I'm excited about this program for several reasons. First, it's voluntary, so it's not something we are mandating to our dealers. Secondly, regardless of the age or design of the existing facility, dealers can participate in the program at any level - from minor updates all the way through to complete renovations or new construction. So the power is truly in the hands of the dealers, to make decisions that best work for them.

The National Automobile Dealers Association has calculated that if all dealerships in the U.S. were able to reduce their energy consumption by just 10 percent, they could save a total of more than $190 million in energy costs and they could eliminate more than 1 million tons of greenhouse gases every year. We want to help our dealers play a part in making that kind of difference.

By making energy-saving improvements, dealers are helping out the environment, while also improving their overall operating costs. Dealer profitability is critical to maintaining a healthy and viable network of dealers, so they are able to remain strong pillars of support in their local community and can continue selling and servicing vehicles that their customers want and value.

We don't claim to be the only company with a program to improve energy-efficiency. But, we have a rich and deep corporate history of contributing to a better world through responsible environmental practices. And, with this new program, we are now building the foundation for our dealer partners to make sustainability improvements one community at a time.