plow clearing snow in parking lot

Sustainable Snow Removal: 5 Eco-Friendly Snow Removal Ideas for Your Business

Navigating the balance between maintaining safety and minimizing environmental impact during the winter months can be challenging for Chicagoland businesses.

While clearing snow is essential for safety and accessibility, traditional methods often come at an environmental cost. As concerns about climate change grow, we know you are likely seeking sustainable alternatives to traditional snow removal methods. But is there really a way to make snow removal more eco-friendly?

Let’s look at how snow removal methods impact the environment as well as five ways to help your snow removal practices be more sustainable. 

The Environmental Impact of Snow Removal

Snow removal can have significant environmental implications, especially when traditional methods involve the use of heavy salt and chemicals. These products leach into nearby water sources like rivers, streams, lakes, and even groundwater, harming aquatic life and contaminating soil. 

In addition to contamination, commercial snow removal requires an enormous amount of equipment, including trucks, snow blowers, front loaders, and more, all of which use fossil fuels. While this may seem minimal, it is estimated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that the average snow blower emits a pound of carbon monoxide an hour, which is equivalent to driving your car over 70 miles! 

Truck plwong snow in parking lot

1. Strategic Snow Stacking & Relocation

One easy-to-implement eco snow removal tip is to strategically stack and relocate snow on site. Snow stacked near sidewalks or in parking lots can cause major drainage issues and prevent customers or clients from easily navigating your property. 

Snow piles should be away from buildings in areas that are typically unused. Your snow removal contractor should meet with you and discuss where they plan to pile snow throughout the season on your property. Selecting a strategic location for snow piles can help reduce excessive runoff into storm drains as well. 

plow clearing snow in parking lot near business

2. Selecting Commercial Snow Removal Contractors with Experience

It is extremely important to select a snow removal team that has years of experience. Expert snow plow drivers pile snow in the right areas and spend significantly less time in their trucks or equipment. 

Look for contractors that have the right amount of equipment to get the job done at your property as well. If you have an extremely large parking lot, just a small truck with a plow on it is not the most efficient way to manage snow at your business. Not only will you be provided poor service as it will take hours longer to move even a small amount of snow, but the driver will waste hours of gasoline unnecessarily. 

Snow piled in the wrong area or throughout the property in several small piles can result in additional fees and pollution if it has to be hauled away to a different location or moved and relocated on the property. Experienced professionals understand the environmental implications of their work and can recommend eco-friendly solutions tailored to your property’s needs.

crew shoveling snow outside during storm

3. Eco-Snow Removal: Brine & Liquid Applications

Brine and liquid de-icers offer very effective alternatives to traditional salt-based products. Unlike traditional rock salt, brine is applied to your hard surfaces before snowfall, creating a barrier that prevents snow and ice from bonding to surfaces. 

While some rock salt may still be required at your property after large snowfalls or refreeze events, brine reduces the amount of salt used significantly. Brine also reduces waste and pollution, as the liquid is sprayed directly onto your hard surfaces the team applying it controls exactly where it goes, eliminating overflow into your landscape beds, storm drains, etc. 

Using brine instead of only traditional rock salt can not only help prevent runoff into local water sources, but it helps to protect the plantings on your property that can be easily damaged by rock salt. 


4. Utilizing Route Optimization and GPS

Route optimization is essential for maximizing efficiency and minimizing fuel consumption during commercial snow removal operations. At James Martin Associates, we carefully select the properties where we provide snow removal services. 

This ensures route density, meaning that our trucks and equipment do not have wasted travel time. This benefits the environment, but also benefits our clients as our team is always nearby during a snow event. By leveraging GPS tracking technology, our snow removal crews can identify the most efficient routes and avoid more unnecessary travel as well. This not only reduces fuel emissions but also saves time and resources, so our team is where they need to be when you need them most. 

5. Sustainable Snow Removal Methods: De-icers & Salt

When using de-icers and salt for sidewalks or walkways, it is important to choose environmentally friendly products that minimize harm to vegetation and water sources. Talk with your commercial snow removal team about what options they offer for sidewalk and walkway maintenance. Many providers offer eco-friendly de-icers as well as brine. 

Inquire if your provider has their team shovel snow by hand when possible to eliminate the need for unnecessary snow blower use.

Selecting an Eco-Friendly Commercial Snow Removal Partner

The winter season here in Chicagoland can be long and difficult. That’s why sustainable snow removal methods are essential for businesses looking to minimize their environmental impact while maintaining safe and accessible properties in the winter months. 

By implementing simple eco snow removal ideas like strategic snow stacking, shoveling snow instead of using snow blowers, and using brine and eco-friendly de-icers, you can protect the environment while ensuring the safety and well-being of your employees and customers

Snow Plow Truck JMA Logo

The team at James Martin Associates has been tackling commercial snow removal for over 45 years. Our experienced drivers and team members are trained to be efficient and effective, putting sustainable practices that keep your property safe as their priority. 

Ready to enhance sustainability at your commercial property during the winter months? Get started by filling out our contact form today!


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Aaron Schlines

Aaron Schlines

Aaron Schlines, a graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a licensed Landscape Architect with over 25 years of professional experience in the residential design/build industry. His knowledge of regional horticulture and hardscape materials paired with his thoughtful and sophisticated design style lead to designs that are appropriate and timeless.