Cloverleaf grand opening to highlight ‘Holly Daze’

It was a little behind schedule but bang on budget, and now the new Cloverleaf ShopEasy in Emo finally is ready to formally open its doors.
The 17,000 sq. ft. facility has been serving district customers for several months now, but it will be front and centre this Saturday during Emo’s “Holly Daze” when dignitaries and contractors are on hand to admire what has become a showpiece of environmental efficiency.
In addition to providing “one-stop” shopping for groceries, baked goods, meat, and small wears, the new Cloverleaf ShopEasy also features a gas bar and deli.
But according to co-owner Mark Loney, the real jewel in the crown is the store itself and its geothermal environmental-control system, which recycles waste heat from the refrigeration system throughout the store to provide year-round comfort for customers and staff.
“We have a 100 percent-recovery environmental system and refrigeration,” said Loney. “It’s really cheap to heat this place because the heat is already here.”
Conventional refrigeration systems vent excess heat through massive fans and heat exchangers located on the roof of the building. This is not only expensive and complex, it’s wasteful of a valuable resource that has to be replaced in cold weather anyway.
Instead, that heat is captured in a 700-gallon recovery tank, where it is transferred to the water circulating through it and piped out to the store through the floor.
In fact, Loney said so much heat is generated that way, the system normally bypasses the outside loop, which consists of 30,000 feet of three-quarter-inch pipes that are buried in three layers under the parking lot.
Any heat in excess of what the recovery tank can handle is dumped into the ground, which remains at a constant temperature of about 10 C (50 F) year-round.
In the event of a severe cold spell, the system reverses and extracts heat from the ground to heat the building. In the summer, the same principle is used for cooling because now the ground is cooler than the air inside.
Loney said the savings are so significant, the system actually paid for itself the first time it was used.
“We’re already ahead of the game,” he remarked.
As such, Loney intends to install a greenhouse next year and heat it by extracting heat from the buried pipes.
The system was designed by Next Energy Solutions of Elmira, Ont., with president Stan Marco saying the Cloverleaf ShopEasy project was the first of its kind since he usually designs for factories, homes, and office buildings.
“It had never been done before,” said Marco. “But the idea of using this system for a grocery store made perfect sense because of the abundance of available heat from the refrigeration system.”
The result was an experiment that exceeded its expectations.
“What we have is unique to North America and perhaps the world,” said Marco. “It’s probably the most energy-efficient grocery store ever built. It’s certainly one of the most interesting projects we’ve ever done.”
Marco said the biggest obstacle was selling the various contractors and sub-contractors on building the system as a stand-alone concept (there is no back-up heating or cooling system).
But the simplicity of the design, as well as the reliability of the pumps and compressors, assure years of trouble-free service, he promised.
“I believe over time it will prove to be more reliable than a conventional system,” Marco predicted.
The construction and installation of the system was done by Brubacher Contracting in Mine Centre. For Israel Brubacher, it was a mammoth undertaking, but one in which he had confidence.
“This was the biggest job I’ve ever done,” said Brubacher. “But it’s an ideal way to heat that building.”
Brubacher added a few special touches of his own. At the suggestion of some of the Cloverleaf ShopEasy employees, he arranged to have extra pipes just under the floor at the check-out stations to provide localized heating during busy days in the winter when the doors would be constantly opening and allowing in the cold.
He also installed a special set of pipes under the sidewalk and the area where the shopping carts are stored. As a result, Brubacher is convinced those areas will remain ice-free throughout the winter.
Although the system was expensive to install, the cost was mitigated by a $33,000 federal grant. But because of the reduced heating and cooling expenses, the system eventually would have paid for itself regardless of the initial costs, said Marco.
The official ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place Saturday around 10:25 a.m., with local MPP Howard Hampton and Emo Reeve Russ Fortier doing the honours.
The new store is being dedicated to Laurence and Grace Loney—the founders of the original Cloverleaf Grocery in 1932.