Snow And Ice Services Standards


Early this year, the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) released SIMA-10-2020 Standard Practice for Procuring and Planning Snow & Ice Management Services—the American National Standard for the commercial snow and ice management industry approved by ANSI (American National Standards Institute). This was the result of an industry-wide effort, and snow contractors can gain information on contracts, scope of work, and monitoring and documentation of their work.

Leading up to publication of the SIMA-10-2020 Standard document, SIMA recognized the industry’s lack of resources for those seeking to hire quality commercial snow and ice management services, and so convened a diverse Stakeholder Advisory Group. This group included snow contractors and facility management professionals, and its Standards Development Committee to help craft and approve an initial standard. As an ANSI-Accredited Standards Developer, SIMA then went through a rigorous process to publicly announce this standard, including a public review period, consensus body vote, and finalization following standards policies.

snow and ice services
(Photo: Getty Images)


The Standard Practice for Procuring and Planning Snow and Ice Management Services covers the following:

General Procurement: Includes recommended minimum snow services contract term lengths, optimal contract award dates, and general information related to the use of subcontractors.

Level of Service (LOS) and Scope of Work (SOW): Identifies descriptions of desired outcomes, service time frames, and service priorities related to LOS. It also emphasizes guidelines for SOW, including site assessment and inspection recommendations, as well as information related to environmental, architectural, and equipment considerations.

Monitoring Procedures and Documentation: Establishes minimum guidelines for snow service documentation/reporting, billing requirements, technology requirements, service controls and decision-making, and communication processes between the snow contractor and facility management or property manager.

“Through cooperation and adherence to these standards, snow contractors and facilities management/owners will be able to protect public safety while keeping sites open, reducing environmental impact, and managing the threat of slip and falls effectively,” said SIMA CEO, Martin Tirado, when the document was released in early 2020.

Greening Snow & Ice Services

(This content originally appeared in Facility Executive, a Turf sister publication.)

Sustainable Winter Management (SWiM™) guidelines are available help industry stakeholders navigate this winter maintenance landscape. Like LEED which is a synonymous with standards for green buildings, SWiM is a solution developed for establishing standards of practice for responsible snow and ice management. [Editor’s Note: WIT Advisers, a well-known provider of sustainable landscape and winter management solutions in the industry, administers the SWiM program and certifications. The lack of tested and verified industry standards for winter management operations inspired Phill Sexton, Founder and CEO of WIT Advisers, to conduct research around this issue, which led to the creation of the SWiM guidelines.]

A two-year thesis research at Harvard University focused on a sustainability analysis of the commercial winter management industry. The results of the Harvard research revealed a framework of best practices and solutions interventions that evolved into the SWiM standards for properties and highway departments to follow and to qualify for SWiM certification. Unlike other sustainability initiatives that typically are costly to initiate, SWiM guidelines provide these benefits to properties: saving money, managing risk, and reducing salt use.

A recent case study conducted by the NY Pollution Prevention Institute (NYPPI) at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) validates that the implementation of SWiM guidelines produced significant results in cost efficiencies, reducing salt use, and increasing environmental responsibility. Beyond these immediate results are the anticipated long-term benefits to a property’s infrastructure.

Although SWiM certification audit guidelines include over 100 criteria that must be met for a property or portfolio of properties to earn SWiM™ SITE™ certification, the broad criteria of policies are available for any facility owner or manager to apply. These straightforward categories of policy enable standards of practice for in-house or contracted winter maintenance operations. The categories are: Measure, Calibrate, Prevent, Analyze, Improve, and Optimize.

Measure. You must measure what you want to improve. Compare current practices with industry production rates guidelines published by the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA). These guidelines include examples of average times required for plowing an acre of parking lot; shoveling 1,000 linear feet of sidewalk; and the average quantity of time and salt required for anti-icing and de-icing applications.

Salt application rate guidelines have been established through SIMA’s Sustainable Salt Initiative It’s important to always measure surface temperatures (not air temperature) when deciding application rate guides to utilize.

Measure salt application rate output on a per application basis. Salt measuring technology and cloud based, GPS enabled tracking software is available that makes measuring salt applications easy and affordable.

Measure level of service (LOS) expectations and results. This can be achieved using site weather cameras or assigning someone to observe and document snow operations, including with pictures. It’s important to understand when LOS expectations are being met and when they are perhaps being over-serviced, which typically includes over-applying salt.

Calibrate. Salt application equipment should always be calibrated to confirm minimum and maximum material flow rates. Calibration should be performed pre-season and mid-season at a minimum. Recalibration should also be performed any time a repair or other change is made to this equipment.

Calibration of storm response times with resource allocations (i.e., quantity of people, materials and equipment) is also important to practice. Timing of storms and accumulation thresholds, compared with shift schedules for example, are important to establish.

Prevent. Prevent bonding of snow and ice on paved surfaces by using anti-icing application techniques as a standard of practice, when conditions allow. Although dry salt applied as an anti-icing application can be effective, salt brine is the recommended method to prevent dry salt “bounce and scatter” waste.

Analyze. Analyze inconsistencies with plow production and salt application rates by categories of variables including; a) parking lot/road; b) vehicle (truck); c) equipment (spreader type); and d) operator (driver/employee). Analysis can be achieved using GPS enabled technology and salt tracking hardware readily and affordably available to contractors and facility managers.

Improve. Improve salt rate output by analyzing inconsistencies of measured salt application rates. Identify the lowest measured rate that achieves desired level of service, and recalibrate all salt application equipment to the lowest successful rate(s).

Improved production cycle times can be achieved using site maps and scheduled training with operators on how to best route a site or a portfolio of sites.

Optimize. Optimize dry salt output by “pre-wetting” dry salt flow with salt brine at the spinner of the spreader. Salt is only effective for melting snow in its liquid form which is brine. Pre-wetting dry salt with a small quantity of brine helps to expedite the brine reaction that is desired.

Meanwhile, new plow technology options are available that enable greater efficiencies for clearing snow accumulation from parking lot surfaces down to near bare conditions. Less snow and ice accumulation left on the parking lot surface means less salt is needed to melt.

To find out more about the SIMA-10-2020 Standard, visit And, to find out more about SWiM guidelines, visit

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