Today's car manufacturers continue to offer end-users an ever-increasing choice of fuel-efficient, low-emitting automobiles in a variety of makes and models. When the owners of Dave Mungenast Lexus, a car dealership located in the St. Louis suburb of Manchester, Mo., decided to construct a $16 million state-of-the-art showroom and service center, they opted to make the building as environmentally conscious as many of the vehicles they repair and sell, starting with the 70,000-sq-ft-facility's lighting.

“To help the facility achieve LEED Silver certification, we employed a sophisticated lighting control panel that allows all interior and exterior luminaires to be operated via computer,” says Mike Murphy, vice president of operations and senior project manager for Fenton, Mo.-headquartered Kaiser Electric, the project's design-build contractor that installed the power distribution, lighting, and fire alarm systems. “Lights can be programmed to power on and off at separate times, and each circuit breaker can be programmed individually to create unique lighting schemes.”

When needed, the control panel can be overridden (by the night cleaning crew, for example), and lighting may be operated by a remote switch or photocell, if desired.

To ensure the building's 2-story showroom floor and 32 service bays received the appropriate amount of light while staying within LEED guidelines, Kaiser Electric used T8 and T5 fluorescent lamps in these areas.

“One of this project's challenges was achieving the minimum requirement of footcandles of lighting in the display areas and the service bays,” notes Murphy. “Trying to work the lighting control in those areas while still meeting LEED requirements was tough.”

In addition to using high-efficiency lamps, Kaiser relied on the extensive use of wall- and ceiling-mounted occupancy sensors and timers to help control energy costs.

“We also grouped the lighting into zones and controlled that lighting to come on only when needed,” Murphy adds. “For instance, the service department's 32 workstations are broken into nine lighting zones so the stations being used are well-lit, while those not being used aren't illuminated.”

The building's exterior lighting presented Kaiser with another challenge. The expansive parking lot needed to be brightly lit after dark, but the light couldn't spill over into a park located adjacent to the dealership. Furthermore, the fixtures' height was restricted.

“We solved this issue by specifying 50 lighting fixtures that use 320W pulse-start metal-halide lamps instead of the typical 400W bulbs,” explains Murphy. “These lamps contain high-end optics that output the same light quality and spread but use less wattage.”

In addition to the lighting, Dave Mungenast Lexus contains many other environmentally friendly features, such as a water-saving car wash and detail area, low-volume plumbing fixtures that decrease water usage by up to 30%, an insulated roof designed to lower energy consumption, insulated architectural precast panels, and aluminum curtain walls with high-performance glazing. Furthermore, volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the facility were reduced by using specified materials with low or no VOCs.

According to the dealership, more than 95% of the construction and demolition waste generated on the site was diverted from local landfills. Materials were donated, salvaged, or recycled, including concrete, wood, metal, and cardboard. Substantial amounts of materials found on-site were reused or recycled throughout the 18-month construction process.

“This building is as beautiful as it is environmentally conscious,” says Murphy. “Although Kaiser has been involved in other LEED projects, this was the first one we fully designed and constructed. So, we're very proud of it.”