Twelve years ago, the U.S. Green Building Council launched a rating system called LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, hoping that architects, engineers, designers and real estate firms would improve energy efficiency and increase the use of recycled materials and nontoxic paint in their projects to win LEED-certified recognition.
Now the LEED movement, which has grown into a global brand, has caught fire in an unlikely place: auto dealerships.
California’s first-ever LEED Platinum car dealership is San Francisco Toyota, located in a former horse barn in the city’s Inner Richmond neighborhood. San Francisco Toyota features 100 percent of the original structure; over 75 percent of the construction waste was recycled.
“It’s got a very rustic, warm feeling, which is unlike most auto dealerships,” said Jana Hartline, Toyota’s Environmental Strategy Manager, in an interview. “We know of some customers who have specifically driven to certain dealerships because they were LEED certified.”
Toyota has 1,200 dealerships nationwide, and 27 of them have achieved LEED certification. Hartline said those dealerships have seen, on average, a 26 percent reduction in energy costs. Pat Lobb Toyota of McKinney, Texas was the first car dealership to achieve LEED recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council, and Hartline said that dealership regularly gets request for tours and visits from schools.