taking the fresh approach in energy efficient construction
Jack and Fonda Gross are the owners and operators of Jack’s IGA, a full-service grocery store in Lee County, Kentucky. With 25 employees, Jack’s IGA is a major employer in the community and one of only two grocery stores in the area.
The Grosses got their start in the food industry in 1975, when they opened a fruit and meat processing shop. Within a few years they moved the business into a building large enough to add groceries. Over the past three decades, Jack and Fonda expanded Jack’s IGA until it became a million-dollar business.
But disaster struck in August 2009. The Grosses lost everything in a fire that gutted a busy block of Main Street in Beattyville, including Jack’s IGA, a department store and the office of a weekly newspaper.
Undeterred, the Grosses resolved not only to rebuild Jack’s IGA, but to improve it. They used their insurance benefit to rebuild on the same location, add 1,000 square feet and a deli — all while reducing overhead costs through increased energy efficiency.
In January, 2010, MACED extended a loan of $400,000 to Jack’s IGA to finance several energy saving measures in his new store. These steps included insulating the block walls, the roof and the rolling doors, installing five insulated windows, installing high performance T8 fluorescent lighting, and installing a refrigeration rack system. The latter enables waste heat from the refrigeration units in the store to be used to heat the store’s water and the store itself during winter. Says Jack, “We’ve got to reduce costs to stay competitive in the future. Our energy savings from this refrigeration system will significantly reduce our overall operating expenses — and that’s a big deal in the grocery business.”
Construction of the new building began in November 2009, and the grand re-opening took place July 14, 2010. Since then, Jack has received ongoing technical assistance from both MACED’s Enterprise Development team and Energy Efficient Enterprises team. Electricity usage is down by twenty percent and an even greater reduction is anticipated in the winter months when the store can take full advantage of all of the refrigeration’s waste heat to heat the store. Furthermore, Jack’s IGA will not have to buy any propane gas to heat the store this winter. Despite a rate increase from his electric utility, once Jack was able to change from General Service to Power Service with his electric utility, Jack Gross also saw considerable cost savings on his electricity bill.