A Sturgeon County businessman receives a provincial grant to help build a net-zero energy, water-efficient car wash.
A Sturgeon County businessman has received a provincial grant to help build a net-zero energy, water-efficient car wash.
Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) announced Sept. 1 that it had awarded Rock-N-Wash $277,700 to fund the company’s net zero car wash in Strathcona County.
ERA is distributing some $55 million in federal and provincial funds through the Energy Savings for Business program to help small businesses reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions, the chief operating officer said. Heather Stephens. Grants such as this are intended to offset the often high initial cost of new energy-saving technologies.
Rock-N-Wash is the brainchild of Sturgeon County entrepreneur Sylvain Blouin, who opened the first Rock-N-Wash outlet in Edmonton in 2013. The 1950s-themed outlet and 1960 was the first legally licensed publicly accessible business in Alberta. to use recycled water (grey water) in its operations.
Blouin said he sold the outlet around 2017 to spend more time with his wife after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now he’s working on a new 37,000 square foot facility near Millennium Place in Strathcona County – the first of what he hopes will become a national chain.
“Electricity and water, the car wash industry is a big consumer for those two utilities,” Blouin said.
Blouin said this new car wash will have about 894 solar modules on its roof, which will generate enough power to make the facility net zero in terms of electricity consumption. (ERA awarded it $240,000 to support the panels.) It will also have a gray water system that is expected to reduce the facility’s water consumption by around 80%.
“We’re significantly lowering our monthly utility costs,” Blouin said, which means higher profits.
Blouin said this latest grant will cover about half the cost of the facility’s garage doors, which are super-efficient models that move about 250 percent faster than conventional doors.
“We can go like 100 inches per second,” he said (about 2.5 meters per second), adding that he didn’t expect the gates to move that quickly.
The Strathcona location could see 90 cars pass through its gates per hour, resulting in 180 gate cycles, Blouin said when asked about the gates. Each door cycle would spit heat out of the building, wasting energy and money.
Blouin said the high-speed doors are expected to reduce cold air fogging for his customers and keep more heat in the building, avoiding some 235 tons of greenhouse gas emissions and saving him about $47. $300 per year.
“It’s the perfect solution for any type of business…that has a high volume of ingress and egress to its facilities,” Blouin said of these doors, and they have significant environmental benefits.
Blouin said it’s great to be recognized by the province, adding that these grants could encourage more businesses to recycle water and aim for net zero.
“It sends a really positive message to the community as a whole,” he said of the efforts, and that means better prices for his customers.
Blouin said he hopes to begin construction of the Strathcona Rock-N-Wash next spring.