With General Motors dealerships closing in the last year, it might not seem like the best of times for LaFontaine Automotive Group to invest in a $15 million, state-of-the-art facility. But they did and, earlier this year, it was officially certified as LEED Gold, the first GM dealership to be so designated.
Ryan LaFontaine says the green building cost $2 million upfront. "If we'd spent that $2 million on advertising, we couldn't have bought this amount of exposure," he says. "(We decided if we were) going to build a facility of this size, this magnitude, we should set a precedent, set an example and help distinguish ourselves...this is what the future is going to be."
The 63,000-square-foot facility has several notable green features, including:
- A car wash system that recycles 85 percent of water otherwise wasted;
- A 64-well geothermal heating and cooling system;
- 85 skylights that reduce the need for artificial lighting;
- Exterior masonry constructed of 40 percent recycled content;
- A body shop using water-based paint that emits zero VOCs; and
- Detailing bays use only green cleaning products.
All told, the LaFontaine facility received 45 out of 46 possible LEED points -- with only 39 required to receive Gold certification.
LaFontaine is located on M-59 just west of Hickory Ridge Road. Visitors are welcome to check out the building, which includes a salon, wi-fi, boutique, kids zone, and a cafe -- making waiting for a vehicle to be serviced a little less painful.Source: Ryan LaFontaine, LaFontaine AutomotiveWriter: Kelli B. Kavanuagh