Oberlin IGA owner Leo Braido was happy to accept an award for making his store more energy efficient, but said he didn’t do it just to save money or for accolades.
“We do what we do because it’s the right thing to do,” Braido said May 17 after accepting Efficiency Smart’s Ambassador for Energy Efficiency award. “When I moved here to Oberlin, I moved here to make a living and make a difference.”
Braido said he began upgrading within 90 days of buying the store at 331 East Lorain St. in September of 2014. Braido installed energy-efficient doors and refrigerators as well as LED lighting.
The improvements are expected to reduce annual electric output by 196,800 kilowatt hours, reducing annual carbon emissions by 346,500 pounds, according to Efficiency Smart, an American Municipal Power energy-saving program.
The improvements will also save $17,100 annually and $198,000 over the life of the installed products. About 10 percent of Braido’s investments were rebated by Efficiency Smart.
IGA, officially known as Braido Foods, is the first Oberlin company to win the award, said Tom Coyle, Efficiency Smart accounts manager.
It is the second Lorain County winner. The Lorain County JVS in Pittsfield Township won in 2013 for extensive renovations.
Coyle said award criterion is based on multiple upgrades using different technology and was done with input from program personnel. Braido will get rebates from Efficiency Smart for his investments.
Braido said he has invested about $650,000 in the store, including the energy improvements. Other improvements include a craft beer case, two produce cases, LED track lighting for produce and refrigerated meat cases. He said he plans to spend about $250,000 this year and next year on upgrades.
Coyle said Braido understands short-term investments can have long-term benefits and has been proactive. “He’s jumped right in to be a member of the community,” Coyle said.
Braido, 49, was a grocer from 1983 to 2012 with Riesbeck Food Markets in St. Clairsville. He said buying his own store was a longtime dream.
Besides energy improvements, Braido has expanded the ethnic and natural foods the store sells and placed historical photos of Oberlin on the walls. Braido said he appreciates the community support he’s received and respects Oberlin.
“Our store is a guest of Oberlin,” he said. “As long as I own and operate it, we’ll behave as such.”
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune IGA owner Leo Braido, left, received Efficiency Smart’s Ambassador of Green Energy Efficiency award from Tom Coyle, an accounts manager with the company. Braido was honored for reducing the grocery store’s energy output by installing LED lights and energy-efficient doors and refrigerators.