The average person thinks of snow removal as an occasional problem dealt with using a shovel or maybe a snow plow. However, every facility manager and business owner who has to deal with this issue understands that the problem is much more complex. If you add sustainability objectives to the equation, it presents even more challenges. How do you navigate the world of sustainable snow removal?
Proactive Planning and Positioning
The only way to effectively deal with snow removal is, of course, careful planning long before the necessity arises. In fact, the greater the frequency and amount of snow, the more urgent the need to be proactive in planning for it. This is especially important in the commercial sector, as you have to take a multitude of factors into consideration, including:
- Tenant and occupant comfort and safety
- Acquisition, storage and maintenance of resources
- Legal and financial consequences of too-slow reaction
- Training and allocation of human resources
- Disposal of snow
- Environmental concerns
The latter point is of increasing concern as new regulations and public expectations demand sustainable and environmentally sensitive solutions whenever and wherever possible. With snow removal standing out as one of the most visible and scrutinized responsibilities for any property manager, it takes proper planning to get the job done quickly and to everyone’s satisfaction.
Crunching the Numbers
Of course, the financial issues are at the heart of any snow removal strategy. You have to ensure safety and comfort, but at what price? Depending on the size and scope of your snow removal challenges, you may consider:
- Contracting the task out to a local landscaping or snow removal firm
- Handling the task yourself
- Adopting a hybrid approach
Handling the problem yourself is an acceptable solution if you live in a region with only occasional snow falls, and your facility has only limited areas to maintain. In fact, new eco-sensitive tools such as heated floor mats and environmental friendly materials make many jobs manageable.
However, if you manage multiple areas and such responsibilities as roofs, loading docks, parking lots, and the like, it often takes a combination of resources. For these larger snow removal projects, the planning and work is virtually year round as you take time for:
- Evaluating long-term weather predictions and trends
- Handling the logistics of selecting, acquiring and storing stocks of snow removal materials, especially if you are seeking the latest and most sustainable options
- Maintaining and updating equipment and vehicles, including the move to more sustainable and lower-emission vehicles and plows
- Ensuring you have the right places to dump excess snow
Sustainability in Operation
While the advanced planning allows you to carefully and prudently choose the most economical and eco-friendly options, it also provides another significant advantage. If you are caught unprepared and off guard, you will be forced to choose alternatives that are more expensive to get the job done quickly while keeping your occupants safe and happy.
Having the right equipment, materials and manpower in the right place at the right time is the first step to sustainable snow removal.