Environmentally friendly car wash looks to open (2/18/10)

Feb. 18, 2010

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A Champlain Valley entrepreneur believes saving the earth begins with one “greener” car wash at a time.


    Courtesy image
The proposed Eco Car Wash, rendered here in an artist depiction, would clean vehicles with less water and environmentally friendly soaps. If built, the car wash would be located at the corner of Vermont 2A and James Brown Drive.

Colchester businessman Aaron Vincelette hopes to build an environmentally friendly car wash on a 2.2-acre site at the corner of Vermont 2A and James Brown Drive. Called Eco Car Wash, Vincelette said his business will offer a greener cleaning experience, but with the same quality as a standard car wash.

According to Vincelette, every aspect of Eco Car Wash aims to be environmentally sound, from chemically lean cleaning products to materials used in the construction of the building.

“It’s more than just a name,” Vincelette said. “This is going to be an experience for people.”

Vincelette will bring his plans before the Development Review Board and ask for a pre-application permit on March 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall. 

Williston Planning Director Ken Belliveau reviewed Vincelette’s proposal and said it has great potential if implemented as planned.

“A car wash like this has the potential to reduce phosphates that find their way into streams and such,” Belliveau.

Currently, Williston has only one car wash at Clark’s Sunoco on Route 2A.

While this will be Vincelette’s second Eco Car Wash in Vermont, he plans on making Williston his flagship location. Vincelette opened the first Eco Car Wash in Milton three years ago and he said business remains steady.

“I have people coming up from Burlington just to use it,” he said.

Vincelette’s interest in creating greener car washes started from his experience as a water purifier in the U.S. Marines. Stationed in Washington D.C., he also picked up his second job as a seasonal decorator for the White House. Since the 1980s, Vincelette has helped presidents and first ladies decorate key rooms, especially during the Christmas season.

“I do have a variety of projects going,” Vincelette admitted with a laugh.

Vincelette said while plans are currently in the early stages, he hopes to build a 150-foot tunnel-style car wash parallel to Vermont 2A. Within the tunnel, all equipment will run on energy-efficient motors and drives. The Eco Car Wash will also decrease the amount of water used in a car’s journey through the tunnel.

By using phosphorous-free soaps, the car wash reduces the amount of waste and harmful toxins that could flow into nearby streams and rivers, Vincelette said. This is particularly important since the Winooski River, classified as an impaired waterway, is just down the hill from his site, he added.

“I think people are learning the environmental impact car washes can have, especially with the use of certain soaps and the chemicals in those soaps,” he said. “But that’s all changing now.”

The Eco Car Wash structure itself will feature recycled building products and a transparent roof allowing natural light to fill the tunnel during daytime hours, thus reducing dependence on lighting fixtures. Vincelette said he plans on adding solar panels to further diminish the building’s energy consumption. 

Besides the car wash itself, Vincelette hopes to add an adjacent tunnel for interior detailing and cleaning. He said a team of workers would quickly vacuum and clean a customer’s car while they wait.

“It won’t be a $300 detail operation, but it’ll be worth it to the average customer,” he said.

Once in operation, Eco Car Wash will offer a variety of payment options, including monthly passes, he said.

When he completes the permitting process, Vincelette said the project could start construction immediately. Whether his locations in Milton and Williston breed a franchise of sorts, Vincelette isn’t sure.

“Right now, I’m focused on putting my vision of this together,” he said.