Chevrolet Dealer in Arkansas Embraces Community’s Spirit of Sustainability

Chevrolet Dealer in Arkansas Embraces Community’s Spirit of Sustainability

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 10:45am


Most of us have not heard of the town of Bentonville, Arkansas.

Tucked away in the northwest corner of the state near the borders of Missouri and Oklahoma, it’s the tenth-largest city in the Natural State.

The fame the city does have stems from being the home of the Walmart headquarters.

The retailer is well-known through the world for itssustainability initiatives.

But it’s not the end-all, be-all of Bentonville’s commitment to green. A thriving sustainability movement extends beyond the corporate giant.

George Nunnally Chevrolet, a fixture in Bentonville for more than 25 years, is one of the local companies helping Bentonville become an environmental model for which many communities in America could stand to mimic. And they are looking to General Motors for inspiration.

“I’m impressed with what General Motors is doing on a global scale, all the way down to the facility level,” said Gan Nunnally, general manager at George Nunnally Chevrolet. “We want the public to also view our dealership as a sustainable entity.”

Nunnally Chevrolet decided LEED certification would be a good place to start since they were thinking about renovating. Together with Crossland Construction and the U.S. Green Building Council, management reviewed the environmental design criteria and began the project.

“We knew achieving LEED would cost more money up front, but we were willing to make the investment to reap financial and energy efficiency benefits down the road,” said Nunnally.

Improvements to the building included a white roof to deflect heat, reused showroom tiles, and building supplies made from reused scrap from other construction sites.

The dealership also now features a recycling center in the service department. As people pull their vehicles in to get fixed, they can recycle their paper and plastics in the appropriate containers. It has proven to be a big draw.

“We didn’t make the recycling center big enough,” jokes Nunnally. “I think our customers save up all of their bottles until they bring in their vehicles for service.”

Nunnally Chevrolet is so excited about its LEED certification, they want others to be aware of the benefits. So they hold an annual LEED event, through a partnership with Northwest Arkansas Community College, where the local chapter of the USGBC uses space at the dealership to meet with others debating whether  LEED would make sense for their business.

Of course, to keep sustainability on the right path in the community, the next generation has to understand the value of the environment. So together with the Northwest Arkansas chapter of the USGBC, Nunnally Chevrolet supported a grant process that allows area schools to apply for an outdoor classroom.

Mathias Elementary School, located just east of Bentonville, was the lucky recipient of funding for an outdoor classroom that will hold 75-100 children when finished.

Among the features will be a rain garden, a line of native trees to act as a buffer between the highway and the classroom, and a floor or stage area for teaching. There are also plans for a butterfly garden and orchard.

“With the majority of our kids coming from households with two working parents, it’s not always easy for them to experience the outdoors,” said Betsy Kinkade, Mathias Elementary principal. “This classroom will offer them the opportunity to learn how to protect the environment during the school day.”

One of the highlights of the outdoor classroom is that it will become a stop on the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Greenway – a 36-mile interconnected series of regional trails that weave through the northwest portion of the state and link dozens of popular community destinations.

Soon, bikers, walkers and runners will see the benefits of the dealership’s sustainability efforts.

“Several of our faculty members have dreamed about this project for years,” added Kinkade. “We are just so thankful to Nunnally Chevrolet and the U.S. Green Building Council for making it a reality.”

CATEGORY: Environment