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Tuesday, 17 May 2016 19:19

Environmental Initiatives at CA Body Shop Lead to Cost Savings & Recognition

Luxury Auto

(l to r) Lydia Vargas, Carlos Vargas, County Supervisor Ron Roberts, Ron Melanson and Stephanie Melanson.

A California body shop was recognized for its commitment to a climate-friendly environment and its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Luxury Auto Body was presented with the CoolCalifornia Small Business of the Year Award by California Air Resources Board in March.

“When we found out that we won the award, we were thrilled and honored as we are the only San Diego business to have ever received the CoolCalifornia Small Business of the Year Award, let alone an auto body repair facility,” said Ron Melanson, general manager at Luxury Auto Body, which was established in 1999 and has two facilities.

Judy A. Nottoli of the California Air Resources Board said the CoolCalifornia Small Business Awards program was initiated in 2009 and honors small businesses that take voluntary actions to reduce their carbon footprint, “Luxury Auto Body was selected as a business of the year because they have taken a proactive approach in the areas of compliance and conservation and were able to demonstrate their cost savings and reductions for the actions they implemented to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Nottoli.

She said there are over 3.6 million small businesses in California, and they can have a tremendous impact in helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save water, improve energy efficiency, and reduce/recycle/repurpose water. “Sustainability improves business profitability and is good for the environment,” said Nottoli. “Luxury Auto Body serves as an example of a sustainable business for others to follow.”

Some of the environmental improvements Luxury Auto has implemented include: 

  • installation of a wash mat wastewater collection and recycling system to prevent run off and ground contamination;
  • skylights in the body shop to reduce the use of overhead lighting during daylight operations;
  • an energy-efficient rotary air compressor system;
  • a new energy-efficient spray booth equipped for the waterborne paint process, which reduces the use of materials and energy;
  • additional recycling for waste items such as aerosol containers, paint lids and liners;
  • a dedicated recycling container for all vehicle debris and contracted with a hauler for proper disposal;
  • turf irrigation was shut off and hardscape installed with drought-tolerant plants; and
  • a rain barrel was added for watering drought-tolerant plants and vehicle paint preparation.

The total investment of the shop’s water conservation equipment was approximately $4,000, which Nottoli said resulted in a 30 percent decrease in water usage, saving the company $1,050 per year. The additions of skylight windows saved the company more than $900 a year. 

“Regardless of what side of the argument you are one with respect to climate change, it is important that our industry recognize what we do every day does have an impact on the environment,” said Melanson. “We can all do more to reduce our carbon footprint; being a clean operator doesn’t happen without added costs and effort, but just being compliant isn’t enough.” 

Several years ago, the Air Pollution Control District (APCD) set up a small business assistance program to educate the auto body industry and offer guidance in regards to compliance and record keeping. 

“As most shops do in our industry, we relied on the annual inspection process to learn of the latest compliance issues and whether we met the standards,” said Melanson. “We wanted to be proactive and go above and beyond just being compliant.”

Early in 2011 Melanson decided to take initiative and ask Eric Luther, the small business liaison, to inspect and review the processes conducted at Luxury Auto. “We found that we were not only doing a great job but also identified areas of improvement to put ourselves in better standing without respective governmental agencies,” he said.

Partnering with APCD, Luxury Auto created compliance training videos  during the summer of 2011 for for San Diego County repair facilities. They are also utilized by APCD for classroom training. 

The company received the Blue Sky Leadership Award in 2011 to honor its efforts in maintaining a clean environment and utilizing resources to ensure a sustainable future. Over the years Luxury Auto Body has continued to implement changes to its business to reduce energy; conserve water; re-use ink and toner cartridges, lids and liners in the paint department as well as sand paper; and recycle.

“It’s not often that our industry is looked at in a positive way with respect to the environment,” said Melanson. “We have had a great response from our customers regarding the award; it just shows if you care about the environment, then you care about the consumer.” 

To apply for a CoolCalifornia Small Business Award, visit www.CoolCalifornia.org (under the small business tab).

To become a certified green business in California, visit www.greenbusinessca.org 

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