A green house, a green mind
A few days ago Toyota France participated in the opening ceremony of our first Sustainable Retailer in La Rochelle in the west of France. This is the result of more than 5 years work between Toyota Motor Europe, Toyota France, Toyota Financial Services, the dealer group Toys Motors and his architectural team.
I have had the chance to follow this pioneering project from the very beginning, acting on behalf of Toyota France as contact person for the BREEAM auditor in the UK, BREEAM being the certification method that has been adopted to evaluate the “greenness” of the build. As the construction design team can confirm, the tough BREEAM criteria require a high level of innovation and as a result an amount of documentation that would not usually be required for a conventional build – but in the end this is what makes our Sustainable Retailers so special, and we are not afraid of challenges!
The initial idea for a Pan-European programme of “greening” the dealership network came as a natural progression of our continuing efforts to improve our design, manufacturing and distribution processes so as to reduce our environmental impact. Mr. Chabot from Toys Motors shares this philosophy and was therefore happy to build a flagship dealership.
I still remember how it all started. The project began with the land selection in a commercial zone just outside Aytre, to the south of La Rochelle, on which was positioned an old council workshop. From the very outset an environmental ethic was adopted with the nomination of an Environmental Coordinator, whose team ensured that what was written down was carried out! Recycling and reuse was even applied to the deconstruction of the council building so as to minimise waste and avoid landfill.
As soon as work started on the build, each involved company signed an environmental chart so as to ensure that their engagements were respected, with regards to such things as waste sorting, materials selection, optimisation of deliveries even going as far as car sharing!
So it was a proud moment to see the result at the opening. The dealership has become a masterpiece of technology ranging from Building Management Systems, CO2 sensors, rain water harvesting, geothermal heating, photovoltaic panels and even a green roof. The design team has implemented a considerable number of measures so as to ensure that the building’s impact on the environment is limited as well as ensuring that the working environment is as comfortable as possible. Coordinating between the auditor BREEAM and the design team, I was amazed to see how the environmental construction standards pushed the design team to find new solutions when the existing solutions were not sufficient to achieve the criteria. This has led to an unconventional building design in the field of automotive dealerships, the adoption of increased use of recycled aggregates, innovative insulation and even recycled cladding materials.
The facility is now officially open and I hope that all the efforts result not only in the highest possible “excellent” rating by BREEAM, but also in a bright future for the dealer, all his staff and equally for all those involved in the project at every level .