A Green Gary’s Liquors Means Green Savings

by Jaclyn Porfilio
As published in The West Roxbury Transcript
August 20, 2009

During the past year, everything has been coming up green at Gary’s Liquors, from the fixtures to the savings in the cash register.

A family-owned store at 655 VFW Parkway, Gary’s has executed a series of cost-effective and energy-efficient renovations that include installing a floor made of recycled tires and tennis balls; converting to LED light sources that use significantly less electricity; and using outside air to cool the beer chest when the temperature drops below 40 degrees.

This new cooling system is Gary’s biggest money-saver because it reduces both electricity and refrigerant needs. The innovative technology cost more up front than traditional refrigeration, but owner Gary Park says it was worth it because it translates into significant savings on electricity bills, and directly using outside air reduces the time that the cooling system needs to run, thus doubling the life expectancy of the equipment. The entire refrigeration system is run by a computer that, among other things, controls temperatures and shows Park how much energy is being saved: “when it comes to money, I absolutely love to see what I’m saving,” he says.

Park added a vestibule at the front of his store to limit heating or cooling outside air; inside the store, ceiling fans circulate air conditioning and heat. The LEDs (or “light-emitting diodes”) contribute to reduced electricity bills because they need only approximately one-quarter of the energy that fluorescents require and do not generate heat for the beer chests to cool.

When renovating his store, Park “took full advantage” of the assistance NSTAR and National Resource Management collaboratively offer: a rebate program that covered about 50 percent of the costs and provided 12 months of free financing of the remaining costs of energy-saving improvements. The organizations calculated that the store’s payback would take about three years to realize, a very reasonable time frame.

Being environmentally conscious is a tradition at Gary’s Liquors, founded in 1942, as they reuse old cardboard boxes; cut up damaged boxes to employ as bottle separators; and in the past even flipped over the register receipt paper so they printed on both sides, cutting their paper usage in half before they went digital.

Gary’s will continue to exemplify green thinking, as Park plans to replace the new deli counter’s light bulbs with LEDs (he is waiting for final safety approval), recycle old steel shelving, and utilize a new “Zamboni” that uses 80 percent less water and a lot less power than the store’s current cleaning method. Because he is continually searching for innovative ways to save energy and money, Park is always open to sharing ideas and tips for even more energy-efficient measures.

This monthly feature is provided by West Roxbury Saves Energy, a community-based organization committed to spreading the word that individuals can easily make positive choices that save money as well as the environment. For more information about WRSE, visit www.westroxburysavesenergy.org.