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Sustainable Winter Management Guidelines in Snow Industry

Sustainable Winter Management Guidelines in Snow Industry

Justin Rollin

Every winter, facility managers provide effective snow and ice management, which invariably comes at a cost. Because environmental and budget concerns loom large, considerable emphasis is placed on sustainability and optimization.

Fortunately, there is an industry standard for snow and ice management set forth by SWiM™ that helps businesses comply with healthy operations and de-ice use. It’s easier to save money and increase sustainable snow and ice management with these organizations’ informative and practical guidelines.

What Are Sustainable Winter Management (SWiM™) guidelines?

Developed by Phi Sexton, the founder of Whatever It Takes (WIT) advisors, a snow and ice management association SWiM™ is a set of guidelines designed to help the snow industry optimize its snow management programs. Used by property managers and snow and ice removal companies in the public and private domain, SWiM achieves direct benefits for budgets and environments.

As an alternative to traditional snow methods, SWiM “combines the implementation of best practices, real-time monitoring and the efficient use of salt…while maintaining [the industry standard for snow and ice management] safety.” According to a recent case study on sustainable winter management, properties that followed the SWiM methodology experienced a 50% reduction in salting trips compared to those that implemented traditional salting and plowing methods.

6 Pillars of Sustainable Winter Management 

SWiM’s certification audit guidelines include over 100 criteria that a property must satisfy to earn a SWiM™ SITE™ certification. Certified companies follow snow and ice removal best practices, including the meeting of salt reduction targets. Currently, SWiM offers three certificates: site certified, road certified, and chloride-free certified. That being said, it’s relatively easy for all snow and ice management teams to follow their broad policies. 


To quote famous business management consultant Peter Drucker: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” The Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA), as well as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), have an extensive list of guidelines relating to snow management.

It’s possible to find information like the average anti-icing and de-icing application time, for instance. As a starting point, it’s a good idea to compare your current winter management strategy to ANSI standards to evaluate where improvement can be achieved.

Snow and ice management services


Liquid, i.e., snow and ice, tends to be more consistent than bulk granular de-icing products that vary in gradation, moisture content, temperate, and compaction rate in a sprayer or spreader. All these factors affect application rate, even if spreader rates are consistent.

Snow and ice management best practices always calibrate salt application to confirm minimum and maximum lateral flow rates. Recalibration should be performed pre-season, mid-season, and any time a repair or change is made to de-icing equipment.


Facility management would do well to implement preemptive snow management measures, such as applying anti-icing agents to paved surfaces before snowfall. Even though dry salt is effective, salt brine is recommended to prevent dry salt from scattering, which reduces its potency.

If snow and ice removal are outsourced to contractors, always prioritize efficiency over frequency. Using high-quality products and efficient de-icing techniques will decrease applications and be kinder to the environment. It’s also advisable to use the most environmentally friendly products on the market when permissible.


Effective snow and ice management services utilize technology to analyze and improve their salt application. While this sounds tedious, efficiency saves money and is far more eco-friendly, which is an increasingly important priority across industries.

The two main metrics to analyze are inconsistencies in plow production and salt application. Variables like a parking lot or road size, spreader type, and operator should also be included in these calculations. Most companies use GPS-enabled technology to calculate these significant metrics.

Facility management


Once you have accurate data, you can identify the lowest measure rate that achieves the desired level of service and recalibrate salt application accordingly. Improved snow and ice removal production times can be achieved with site maps, as well as training operators on how to best route a site.

It’s also worthwhile investing in new snowplow technology that enables greater efficiency. If there’s less snow left on paved surfaces, the amount of salt needed automatically decreases. Ideally, snow plow equipment should be updated every 7-10 years to ensure maximum productivity.


Dry salt output can be optimized by pre-wetting it with salt brine. This enhances performance at all temperatures because it ensures plenty of moisture to melt snow or ice. Therefore, pre-wetted salt works faster at a lower temperature.

It also bounces less and subsequently reduces waste. The only thing to remember is that pre-wetted salt requires special salt spreaders, although most reputable snow and ice removal companies should have them.

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Following the snow removal association’s and SWiM’s guidelines provides a more efficient approach to snow and ice removal that’s safer for the environment and gentler on the wallet. If you’re searching for a one-stop de-icer supplier in the Midwest, we can help! Ninja De-Icer stocks excellent products to meet your facility management’s requirements regardless of the weather. Contact us today to get started!