Dealership brings its environmental commitment to life.
Love of the outdoors and a commitment to the environment are hallmarks of the Subaru brand. For example, Subaru has built all its cars in zero-landfill manufacturing facilities since 2004, and Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. is the only U.S. automobile-production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. The company also wins kudos for its multi-year partnership with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks.
In Los Angeles, the LAcarGUY family of dealerships is also passionate about the environment. Said to be the top hybrid dealer in the U.S. and the first in the country to support adoption of electric vehicles by offering charging stations open to the public at its dealerships, the facilities undertake an array of environmental efforts at dealerships and in the communities they serve, including energy and water conservation, recycling initiatives, and carbon-footprint reduction.
It was no surprise, then, that when the dealership’s new Subaru Pacific location in Hawthorne, CA, opened in 2016, it earned distinction as an Eco-Friendly Certified Dealer —joining the ranks of Subaru dealers that take environmental responsibility to a new level by meeting stringent standards. A green feature that surprises car buyers when they step into the Subaru Pacific showroom is a living wall, a 14-ft.-high vertical garden with 10 rows of planter boxes containing 120 plants, installed with the LiveWall green wall system.
“Living walls, also known as green walls, are structural systems that attach to existing exterior or interior walls to transform unadorned wall surfaces into vertical gardens,” said Dave MacKenzie, president, LiveWall LLC, Spring Lake, MI. “When installed indoors, they make interior spaces more appealing and inviting and improve indoor air quality.”
Greening a dealership
The Subaru Pacific dealership included green-building features from inception in planning and construction with general contractor Sauers Lopez Construction Inc., Laguna Hill, CA. The dealership has a 100-ft.-long storm-water retention planter that captures runoff from the building. It retains storm water and allows it to percolate into the ground, where it is filtered by the soil. LED lighting saves energy, inside and out. Daylighting solar tubes also reduce electricity consumption for artificial lights in the service area. Sensors turn interior lights on and off. All the plumbing fixtures are low flow.
“The idea of including a green wall came up in our conversations about sustainability,” said James Hartzberg, general manager. “I had some [information on] a few exterior green walls. We jumped online to learn about them and check out different systems.”
System selection, installation
“We found LiveWall to be a complete, well-designed system, more of a professional product than other green-wall options,” said Hartzberg. “We were impressed with the sophisticated engineering of the planter modules and container inserts as well as the built-in irrigation.”
LiveWall installations start with attaching vertical furring tracks on a building wall. They provide a framework for fastening other components to the system, and they establish air space between the wall and the system for ventilation. Horizontal aluminum rails, with conduits for tubes bringing water to the integrated irrigation components, are mounted to the tracks. Molded-plastic modular planter boxes then fit into place on the rails. Finally, separate liner inserts—plant containers with growing medium and pre-grown nursery plants—drop into the planter boxes. For indoor installations, LiveWall uses drip-stake assemblies that inject water into the growing medium.
“LiveWall was designed by career horticultural professionals to grow and sustain healthy plants,” said Gregg Hoffman, owner, Outside Matters Landscaping, El Segundo, CA, the landscape contractor who installed the green wall. “Other systems confine plants to small pockets of growing medium and force plants to grow straight out from the wall. With LiveWall, the plants grow upward from the top of the modules, and the roots grow downward, just as in nature.”
The Subaru Pacific green wall is 13 ft. 7 in. high and 8 ft. wide. Totaling 110 sq. ft., it has 10 rows, each with six LiveWall modular wall planters lined with plant container inserts that have a mix of six different indoor plants. Florasource Ltd, San Clemente, CA, an independent horticulture supply company and LiveWall distributor, provided 120 pre-grown nursery plants in the containers.
“We carefully consider the location and orientation of a green wall as well as lighting when we suggest plant mixes,” said Tom Hawkins, president, Florasource. “Delivering mature, nursery-grown plants in the LiveWall container inserts ensures that a green wall is green and beautiful from day one.”
“The typical car dealership showroom is sterile, uninviting. The green wall brings beauty and color to the space and enlivens the atmosphere,” said Alisha Auringer, manager of the environment, LAcarGUY. “The green wall brings to life what LAcarGUY and Subaru stand for. It conveys the alignment of our values with the values of Subaru buyers.”
“We understand that buying a car is not the most fun thing to do. People can feel tense. Whatever helps make it less stressful, more welcoming, supports the sales process,” said Hartzberg. “Greening up with the green wall, flowers in pots and planters, the kids play area in the showroom, exterior landscaping, our dog park—it is all about making Subaru Pacific welcoming. Whether they want to test drive a Subaru Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle that reduces smog-forming emissions to nearly zero, take a look at our green wall, or learn more about LACarGuy’s environmental stewardship and conservation efforts, we want people to feel welcome at Subaru Pacific.”