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Evaluating New Green Standards

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After recent implementations of new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy rating standards, a group of industry professionals convened in late 2014 to develop guidelines for the service and repair industry. Those guidelines, created by the Green Service Standard committee, will be announced at the 2015 NACE/CARS Expo & Conference in Detroit in July. 

Chairman Steve Schillinger recently discussed the goals of the group and how these ratings could affect shop owners.

How did the group come about?

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued fuel economy and environmental standards for the public to score value. It is anticipated that regulations will require all automotive business owners to provide services similar to the 2010 California “tire inflation law” and the 2013 federal “window sticker law.”

The industry is moving so rapidly. The EPA and the Department of Energy came up with the Fuel Economy website and standards about vehicles. That is very parallel and analogous to the energy disclosure for buildings and for the energy usage of a dwelling. We now have the energy usage and emission factors of a vehicle. There are regulatory requirements about putting a window sticker on a new car and resold cars. Now they’ve added used cars all the way back to 1984. That takes the entire industry having a knowledge and understanding of what the new requirements are. 

This all follows the industry’s rapid movement of consumer interaction and awareness of what is and isn’t green. There’s a movement to also add other items to the checklist to protect the consumer and let the consumer know what they’re driving and what the CO2 and carbon footprint of their vehicle is.

That means that the shop owner needs to be able to define and explain all of this to the consumer. A consumer can come in and say, “What does this many grams of CO2 per mile mean?” If you don’t know the answer, you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. By the law, it says they get to know about their vehicle. Obviously the EPA and the government is advertising to the consumer how good or bad their vehicles is. But if the shop owner, the tech, or the service writer doesn’t have a clue about it, then obviously there is a disconnect.

“That means that the shop owner needs to be able to define and explain [new regulations] to the consumer.”
—Steve Schillinger, chairman, Green Service Standard

What is the goal of the group?

This group is designed to come up with some guidelines and standards for the shop owner and his employees, especially the service writer and the estimator, to at least know what those metrics and measurements mean. That will help them better explain it to customers in the shop. 

The ultimate goal is to develop a comprehensive industry green training and testing standard that simplifies the measurements and metrics required to implement new technologies and regulatory requirements concerning vehicle fuel economy, maintenance, service and repair requirements. 

While these standards won’t be necessary to follow, they are suggested guidelines to help training efforts.

How does the group plan to do this?

We plan to establish green automotive service and repair guidelines as generally accepted practices and measures. In connection with achieving this mission, we will take into consideration the different types of automotive businesses that are affected by the vehicle rating system, including auto dealerships, parts distributors, collision shops, and tire, lube and mechanical centers, among others. 

The committee will consider a variety of options, including accreditation, accessibility and transparency guidelines; uniformity in terminology and nomenclature; and recommendations on how to inform consumers of measurement methods.

How will this impact shops?

Many shop owners today are struggling with countless new regulations and often do not know which rules are important or relevant to their businesses. Most successful businesses are based on training, and we are excited to participate in this initiative to develop a green service standard learning. 

As the public becomes more aware of efficiency standards for vehicles, shop owners need to be knowledgeable about what is important to the consumer. It’s also important that the working group leverages the manufacturer relations committee to establish relationships with other industry groups so that the standard reaches broad industry segments.

What is the group working on as it starts out?

As part of the project to inform the automotive aftermarket on topics related to the guidelines, an independent website, greenservicestandard.com, has been created to provide an information hub focused on the development and progression of the standard. The website includes details pertaining to the background and purpose of the initiative, progress being made by the committees, next steps, and other regulatory and educational information.

We are starting out with very simple guidelines right now: What is green? What is a carbon footprint? We’re going to take very simple steps about how to improve your mileage, as well as your carbon footprint on that vehicle, by tune-ups and by air pressure. It’s about a 10-point checklist that we will be able to provide. We’re starting by developing and maintaining business-to-consumer definitions for understandable information of fueleconomy.gov metrics. 

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