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Mercedes-Benz of Arlington leads Virginia with renewable energy initiatives

Not far from the D.C. Beltway, a staple of the local economy has been in business for 82 years, since FDR occupied the White House. It started as a corner gas station and in 1957, evolved into a Mercedes-Benz franchise. Today, Mercedes-Benz of Arlington is one of just nine original dealerships across the nation that retains the same ownership group.

As Mercedes-Benz enters a new era with the roll-out of their first electric car in 2020, the Arlington dealership is leading the way with energy innovation from efficiency to sustainability.


Energy Efficiency Initiatives

With 240 employees supporting their location, Mercedes-Benz of Arlington sells about 2,600 new and pre-owned vehicles every year. They also operate a large service center which provides approximately 3,000 service orders each month.

The dealership has long been a leader in efficiency technology and energy marketplace dynamics. And across three facilities—a main showroom for new vehicles, another showroom for pre-owned vehicles and a body shop facility—their energy needs are varied and complex.

More than a decade ago, Mercedes-Benz of Arlington installed heaters that use waste generated from oil changes to warm the 40,000 square foot service department. Several years ago, they also upgraded the showroom and service department lighting to energy-efficient LED bulbs with automatic shutoff controls. The new lighting reduced energy use by about 20 percent compared to the previous lighting system, and those energy and cost savings came with an unexpected benefit.

"The LED lighting really brightens up the shop. It's like you're outside," says Mercedes-Benz of Arlington General Manager Ralph Mastanuono. "We get a lot of comments from people that work back in the service department, thanking me for putting the lights in because it made such a difference. It actually seemed like it helped with employee morale."




Leading Energy Choice in Virginia

Mastanuono estimates the dealership's monthly energy spend to be around $25,000. That's down 20 percent compared to previous years, thanks to energy efficiency efforts and their proactive approach to Virginia's evolving energy marketplace.

Virginia recently passed new legislation, affording energy consumers more choice about where to purchase energy supply. In a newly competitive marketplace, Mercedes-Benz of Arlington became one of the first consumers to jump to action, leaving behind their higher-priced variable rate electricity plan with the utility. Through their energy broker, TPI Efficiency, they chose Direct Energy Business to attain a low, fixed rate solution that offered long-term savings, budget certainty and sustainability.

But before they could qualify to purchase energy from a retail supplier, the dealership had to overcome a few barriers. Some of their meters used a rate class that was ineligible for switching away from the utility. Motivated by the benefits of switching suppliers, Mastanuono collaborated with experts from TPI Efficiency and Direct Energy Business and ultimately completed a long process of reclassifying meters to ones that are eligible for competitive supplier pricing.

"It was their expertise and persistence that got us to that point," Mastanuono notes. "I know we could never have done it on our own. Having somebody guide us through the process was critical to gaining the cost savings we now enjoy."




Mercedes-Benz of Arlington entered into a five-year deal with Direct Energy Business that provides the dealership with 3,600 megawatt hours annually of completely renewable energy. The fully green solution appeals to their environmentally-conscious customers, Mastanuono explains, and complements the electric vehicle charging stations that the dealership recently installed.

The entire Mercedes-Benz brand takes sustainability quite seriously. In 2020, they will roll out Mercedes-Benz EQ, a line of electric vehicles that includes vehicles powered by a Lithium-ion battery, plug-in hybrids and high-performance hybrids.

As innovations emerge and the Virginia marketplace evolves, Mercedes-Benz of Arlington is thankful to have a trusted energy partner.

"We so appreciate the clarity of communication and timely responses from Direct Energy Business," Mastanuono says. "Especially as we're breaking into this new territory in Virginia and bringing 100 percent renewable energy from a competitive supplier into the state. I couldn't imagine a better partner as we go forward."


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