Lake Bluff’s Knauz wins environmental award
Bill Wagener (from left), fixed operations director; BIll Knauz, chairman; and William Madden, president and CEO, are proud Knauz Automotive Group is the first auto dealership to win a Governor's Sustainability Award. | Joe Shuman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 23, 2013 8:22AM
LAKE BLUFF — Gasoline, oil and cleaning products typically do not make for an environmentally friendly business.
Knauz Automotive in Lake Bluff has bucked that trend in a big way by earning a Governor’s Sustainability Award — the only car dealership ever to achieve the honor. Knauz was among 20 businesses named by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center as Governor’s Award winners for incorporating the environment into everyday practices.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Bill Wagener, fixed operations director at the 78-year-old local company.
Wagener spearheaded the Knauz’s switch to more environmentally friendly products in the service department and elsewhere on the company’s 30-acre campus at Route 41 and Route 176, where Knauz services 35,000 vehicles annually.
Some measures the company has taken for which it was named a Governor’s Award winner include:
• Replacing mineral spirits parts washers with a biobased plant-based degreaser;
• Switching to a biobased floor cleaner for the continual floor and carpet clean-up that occurs at its facility;
• Upgrading metal halide light fixtures with energy-efficient fluorescent lights;
• Eliminating 110,000 pounds of salt to melt ice and instead using a mixture that is safe for people and animals and inhibits nitrogen in bodies of water.
Those efforts resulted in a savings of more than four tons of solid waste from landfills, including 6,500 cans of brake cleaner, 7,500 cans of carpet cleaner and 2,000 cans of penetrating oil, and kept more than 3.5 tons of volatile organic compound emissions from entering into the atmosphere.
The dealership and service company is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, Knauz President and CEO William Madden said.
“We can’t fix it all, but we certainly can make a contribution,” he said.
Madden said he hopes other automobile dealerships follow his company’s green lead and anticipates even more progress at Knauz.
“The technology continues to improve and we’d like to be a part of that,” he said. “Where we can come up with a substitute, we’re happy to, as long as the outcome is the same” and customer expectations are met.
Wagener said employees at Knauz will continue to help find alternatives to improve the environment and make the work environment a safer place.
“The best thing about this [effort] is it helps the environment, but it’s also a better workplace for employees,” Wagener said.
The company has approximately 300 employees at its Lake Bluff campus and its North Chicago used-car facility.