The flagship store for Sonic Automotive’s new used-car dealership prototype, EchoPark, has officially received LEED Silver Certification. ai Design Group provided LEED coordination services on the project, located in a suburb of Denver, Colorado, in addition to our role as architect of record and design partners to WD.
Sustainability was a focus of the EchoPark project from the start, from developing a more community-centric retail concept to the specifics of material selection, lighting, and site amenities. From a building efficiency standpoint, the central “Hub” store, which was built on a previously developed site, is designed to reduce energy use by 36% and water use by more than 30% compared to baseline standards. The store is controlled by a Building Automation System to ensure the building operates at its greatest efficiency in terms of occupant comfort and energy use. Occupancy sensors and timers automatically adjust light levels of LED fixtures.
To better connect with the surrounding community, the store’s landscaping is designed with a fountain and outdoor seating. Landscaping incorporates indigenous plants to celebrate the local climate, geography and seasons, and hardscape pedestrian paths connect the store to the public sidewalk. Other user features include designated parking for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles, as well as carpooling, and bicycle racks and shower amenities for employees.
Beyond building details, the EchoPark model offers potential big-picture impacts from a sustainability perspective. According to recent reports, extending the use of an older car is a substantially greener alternative to purchasing a new one. Considering that Americans keep their new cars for an average of only five years and that nearly 30% of a new car’s carbon footprint comes from manufacture and transport, finding a new owner for a pre-owned vehicle emerges as the arguably more sustainable option. However, in popular perception, buying a used car isn’t necessarily a pleasant experience, let alone a hip enterprise. By completely upending that old model and creating an inviting, modern setting that feels part store, part coffee lounge, EchoPark presents a relevant, even progressive alternative that has the potential to attract a larger range of buyers to the used car market. That outcome has benefits that extend far beyond the building where the sale originated.