Kilworth Carwash: Stunning and Sustainable
By Tania Moffat
Most people don’t expect to see one on a carwash. The eye-catching staggered green roof is a testament to the Hebb family’s commitment to running a sustainable business and providing their customers with top-of-the-line service.
Lisa and Steve Hebb had always thought owning a carwash would be a good business venture. “We owned a prime piece of property along a major roadway five minutes west of London, Ontario. The higher-end community of Kilworth/Komoka was under heavy residential and light commercial development. After researching the area, we felt it would benefit from a carwash that offered self-serve and automatic bays,” says owner Steve Hebb. Steve and his wife began planning their dream wash a few years ago, broke ground in July of 2021 and celebrated their grand opening on June 24th, 2022.
While the green roof is a stunning feature, its aesthetic beauty wasn’t the main reason the Hebbs decided to install a living roof. They were drawn to its functionality and ecological benefits. Ecologically, vegetated roofs improve biodiversity in the area by creating their own small ecosystem attracting pollinators and birds—however, the roof’s ability to reduce stormwater runoff aligned with their vision.
“Water recycling was essential to us, and the green roof went hand in hand with our story. When we initially investigated water reclamation systems, we aimed to recycle approximately 60 per cent of our water by using it for the undercarriage wash, wheel scrubbers, first high-pressure rinse and winter weep. We’re close. Currently, we are recycling 57 per cent of our water,” shares Hebb.
Raising the roof
When designing a building with a living roof, it is imperative to have sufficient support. “To ensure the building could sustain the green roof, it was designed with wood trusses with extra load-carrying capability. This additional design capacity is important as these roofs can weigh two to three times more than a standard roof,” says Chet Liu, president of Y.C. Liu Engineering. He explains that while the initial cost may be higher, vegetated roofs prolong the life of the roof materials, protecting the roof membrane from UV Rays, temperature fluctuations and wind damage.
Kees Govers, technical sales manager at LiveRoof Ontario Inc., further explains a vegetated roof’s functional and ecological benefits. “The roof itself absorbs up to the first inch of rainfall. Approximately 50 per cent of the rain that falls is detained by the roof, and the other 50 per cent is retained and leaves as water vapour, significantly reducing the strain on stormwater sewers. In fact, most small rainfalls will never see any water discharge from the roof. For larger storms, the runoff is delayed significantly, allowing the flow in stormwater sewers to be reduced before the water from the roof even enters the sewer.”
Another functional benefit of a green roof is its ability to increase the overall energy efficiency of the building. “The vegetated roof’s bulk and plants greatly reduce heat transfer through the roof of the building, thus reducing heat build-up inside, helping to keep the building cool during the summer and acting as an additional layer of insulation during the winter,” Govers adds.
Carwash buildings are purpose-built to process dirty cars on one end and deliver clean vehicles on the other. This creates an extremely hostile environment for most conventional building materials and is why the Hebbs went with a modular concrete wall system specially designed for carwashes.
“CONFORM wall assembly technology is attractive to carwash owners on many levels, but perhaps the most valued benefit is that our PVC forms and panels provide a superior envelope of protection for the walls and ceiling of a car wash building. The CONFORM wall assembly provides a load-bearing, reinforced concrete wall with prefabricated finished faces on both the exterior and interior walls. The system minimizes the number of construction trades required on site and shortens the construction schedule allowing for a quicker business start-up,” says Stephen Harding, regional sales manager of Nuform Building Technologies.
Setting up the site
When designing the wash itself, the couple wanted to ensure that the entire wash experience was easy, comfortable and safe for their customers. “Being open 24/7, it was important to create an open and inviting area, with great lighting throughout the property no matter the time of day. We made sure that all our concrete sidewalks and aprons were heated to avoid and slips and falls in the winter. And, of course, we wanted to provide our customers with a great wash with as many features as possible.” Hebb shares. Customers can choose between four self-serve wash bays and one of two automatic bays offering soft touch and touchless wash packages. Two high-performance vacuums are available on the parking pad, one of which provides carpet shampoo and scent options.
Hebb says their decision to use PDQ equipment was based on their own experiences as carwash customers. “We installed the Tandem Surfline for our soft touch automatic and the Laser Wash 360 Plus for our touchless. When our young children saw the Overglow feature in action, they wanted to go through it again and again. We knew then that this would be the right choice for our customers.”
“Both the 360 Plus and Tandem Surfline have the advanced covers and LED package as well as the Overglow and spot-free options. The automatics are equipped with Hamilton Commander tellers with EMV. The owners installed Carolina Pride equipment with nine functions in their self-serve bays and equipped each bay with Nayax for debit/credit payment. They also included an airlift door setup with a full stainless-steel track and hardware options, including the Magnaglide operators. To assist them with their water recycling goals, we installed the Purclean Reclaim system, which runs on under-car and high-pressure rinse in the automatics and with the cold weather weep system in the bays,” adds Gabe Ellis, owner of Elite Carwash Solutions.
From the roof to the apron, the Kilworth Carwash has been a hit with its customers. “We have had nothing but positivity coming our way. Our biggest compliments are on our building and our site. It is a beautiful, modern-looking building, and our customers say how nicely it fits in with the community. We get many questions about the live roof as well as our water recycling, and after explaining, our customers get very excited and feel good about doing business with us. Lastly, everyone is extremely happy with the quality of the wash that they are receiving,” Hebb shares. Kilworth Carwash is unique in its approach to sustainability, proving that carwashes can contribute to the local environment and still offer excellent service and a superior clean.
Tania Moffat is a writer, editor and photographer. You can view her work or contact her at www.chiccountrylife.com