| -

GERMANTOWN, Md. — Officials representing the newest store within Fitzgerald Auto Malls boast that the new dealership is the only of its kind east of the Mississippi River that takes energy conservation to such a level.

Founder Jack Fitzgerald celebrated Earth Day early on Wednesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony at his new Germantown, Md., dealership. This new store was awarded LEED Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Constructed last year, Fitzgerald Auto Mall Germantown features on-site solar trees that aid in powering the building in addition to wind power. Fitzgerald contends it's the first LEED Gold dealership east of the Mississippi River.

The store opening included test drives of hybrid vehicles. Lot management also displayed posters from local schoolchildren who entered the Fitzgerald Green Poster contest.

"I started to look at how we were impacting the environment, and I wanted to go beyond simply meeting environmental laws and regulations," explained Fitzgerald, who has dealerships in three states.

"My commitment to protecting our environment extends to everyday practices and my business decisions," Fitzgerald added.

Dealership executives went on to highlight that all of the electricity at Fitzgerald facilities is purchased from green renewable energy sources. They noted energy mostly comes from wind power at all of the dealerships in Maryland.

Last year, company dealerships indicated that they recycled 65 to 88 percent of the solid waste generated at each facility.

Officials also mentioned that Fitzgerald Auto Malls was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Green Power Partner. They also said the company is a long-standing member of the Clean Energy Partnership.

"Jack Fitzgerald has been a real leader in the automotive industry for many years, and he's consistently given back to our community," stated Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a U.S. House Democrat representing Maryland.

"I applaud Jack for achieving LEED Gold certification for this new dealership, and salute his efforts at environmental sustainability. Even in these tough economic times, Jack has never wavered in his commitment to building green and doing his part to preserve our precious natural resources," Van Hollen concluded.