Building a Better Planet: Hansel Toyota


As Hansel Toyota’s director of Employee Culture and Community Relations, Merrilee Roscoe Alvarado never expected sustainability to be part of her job description. But ask her about it now, and you’d think she’s been doing it since day one.

“This is something I love talking about now,” she said. “It’s something I truly feel passionately about, and I’m so proud of the impact we’ve had here at the dealership. It’s been incredible to see.”

Roscoe Alvarado spearheaded Hansel Toyota’s involvement in Toyota Motor North America’s (TMNA) new Dealership Environmental Excellence Program (DEEP).

The sustainability program, designed specifically for North American dealers, aligns globally with the “Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050” goals and with the company’s work to be carbon neutral by 2035.

Lance Brittle (left) and Laury Sahakangas (right) of TMNA present the DEEP Bronze Award to Justin Hansel, general manager of Hansel Toyota. The dealership was recognized for its success in implementing sustainability strategies as part of DEEP.

“In working with our dealers, it allows them to reduce energy consumption while potentially saving them money and increasing their profits,” said Lance Brittle, TMNA’s dealer facility operations manager.

DEEP helps dealers:

  • Reduce their carbon footprint and cut costs through heating and cooling optimization, LED lighting and controls and renewable energy systems
  • Conserve water through efficient water fixtures, irrigation and vehicle wash equipment
  • Reduce waste through re-use of dealer materials and limit total waste sent to landfill
  • Connect with the community through local environmental events and outreach

When dealers enroll in the program, the DEEP team starts by helping them collect and track their energy consumption.

“We often begin with low-cost or no cost measures, like lighting timers, thermostat offsets and operational efficiencies.  After the dealer begins to realize savings, we graduate to larger things.” Brittle said.

Brittle sees the “larger things” – like solar panels, for example – as investments in the future. His team also helps dealers get competitive bids from reputable companies.

DEEP recognized Hansel Toyota’s upgrades, like solar panels throughout the dealership, water recycling efforts at the on-site car wash and native landscaping.

Roscoe Alvarado says the waste reduction strategies at the California dealership were the most eye-opening.

“You don’t realize how much waste a dealership produces until you really start tracking it,” she said. “When you start paying attention, it’s right in front of you, and you realize how much you can do to improve. And that’s what this program did – it gave us a roadmap of suggestions to change and have a real impact.”

Pictured L-R: Geoff Schick, TMNA Senior Manager Market Network Planning and Dealership Facilities; Faith Schon, Hansel Toyota Facilities Manager; Merrilee Roscoe Alvarado, Hansel Toyota Director of Employee Culture & Community Relations; and Henry Hansel, Hansel Toyota President, Dealer Principal.

For example, Roscoe Alvarado never realized shredded paper can’t be recycled. But through DEEP, she learned it can be composted. So, Hansel Toyota implemented that change. The dealership also began installing compost bins for paper waste in restrooms and recycling Keurig coffee pods.
Small, incremental changes that add up to a big impact over time.

Sound familiar?

“Yes, you can definitely think of these as kaizens,” said Laury Sahakangas, senior analyst on the TMNA dealer facilities team. “This is very much in line with our foundational Toyota values of continuous improvement and creating a better planet.”

Over the past year, Hansel Toyota’s incremental changes had significant effects, including:

  •  71% reduction in energy use
  •  31% reduction in water use
  •  $71,210 cost savings

Acknowledging Hansel Toyota’s success, the DEEP team awarded the dealership the inaugural DEEP Bronze award in a special ceremony earlier this month.

For now, DEEP is a pilot program with 13 participating dealers nationwide, but the team hopes to expand enrollment and onboard more dealers soon.

“There are several reasons for a dealer to jump into this space,” Brittle said. “It’s the right thing to do for the environment. With all of the social activity and visibility surrounding this space, the timing couldn’t be better. Many of our customers care about this and will take into account a business’s commitment to the environment. And the bottom line is this: through these changes, dealers can potentially save money. What dealer doesn’t want to do that?”

For more information on DEEP, contact Lance Brittle at


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