Audi Showroom Earns First LEED Gold Cert In U.S.

Can a company that mostly sells high-performance, fossil-fuel-powered luxury cars ever be considered green? That’s a debatable point, considering some of the newer hybrid and EV models coming out of Audi of America these days. A refurbished Audi Pacific dealership in Torrance, Calif., is adding its two cents to the argument by opening a new showroom that just earned a LEED Gold-level certification.

After expanding from 14,000 square feet to a whopping 45,000 square feet, the two-story structure is now the largest Audi showroom in the United States, with enough room to display 17 models at once. It’s also the only showroom in the country to meet the LEED Gold standards for energy efficiency, low-energy lighting, reduced water usage and use of eco-friendly materials.

Image of new LEED Gold-certified Torrance, Calif., showroom via Audi Pacific.

Image of new LEED Gold-certified Torrance, Calif., showroom via Audi Pacific.

The building is one of 11 LAcarGUY dealerships in California owned by Mike Sullivan, a 45-year veteran of the auto market who also serves on the boards of Heal The Bay and the Environmental Media Association, plus the Regional Board of Directors for Global Green USA. To encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, LAcarGUY recently became the first dealer in the country to offer electric charging stations to the public at four of its dealerships.

The LAcarGUY facility is the largest Audi showroom in the country, with room to display up to 17 new model. Image via Audi Pacific.

The LAcarGUY facility is the largest Audi showroom in the country, with room to display up to 17 new model. Image via Audi Pacific.

On the roof of the Audi Pacific building, LAcarGUY has installed a Trini 45 kW DC solar photovoltaic system that generates electricity for the building and is tied into the Southern California Edison grid to sell back any excess power generated. Sullivan estimates the solar array will provide more than “16 percent of annualized energy cost savings,” which is more than $13,000 per year.

The two-story Audi dealership includes 22 spotless service bays. Image via Audi Pacific.

The two-story Audi dealership includes 22 spotless service bays. Image via Audi Pacific.

In the currently spotless new garage area, which is large enough to hold 22 service bays, LAcarGUY also participates in recycling programs such as battery collection, which recovers the lead and plastic to make new batteries; a tire recovery program than provides raw materials for rubberized asphalt; and a used oil recycling that filters and reconditions the oil for reuse as marine diesel fuel and asphalt paving material.

Around the facility, the Audi Pacific showroom has planted low-water, drought-tolerant plants, such as dwarf coyote brush for ground cover, daisy-like gazania flowers and Brisbane box trees. Drip irrigation systems and bubblers are used to reduce water usage on the landscaping, along with a clever water recovery system that collects condensation from the building’s HVAC system and diverts it to the surrounding flora.

To reduce off-gassing from interior building materials, the showroom used only low-VOC-emitting paints and finishes, nontoxic carpeting, ceiling tiles with 23 percent recycled content and sustainably harvested wood flooring.

As one sales manager on the Audi Pacific blog commented, “You know how in most new places you notice the new paint smell? I didn’t realize it until now, but there is none because of the green materials.”

Randy Woods is a Seattle-based writer and editor with 20+ years of experience in the business publishing world. A former managing editor of Seattle Business, iSixSigma, Claims and Waste Age magazines, he has covered topics that include newspaper publishing, entrepreneurism, green businesses, insurance, environmental protection and garbage hauling (yes, really). He also contributes to the Career Center Blog for The Seattle Times and edits a photography magazine called PhotoMedia. When not working, he likes to hide out in Seattle movie theaters and attend film festivals—even on sunny days.