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A Closer Look at Snow Removal: One Campus’s Story


By Dan Hounsell Grounds Management
Snow removal equipment clears snow from a parking lot

It’s rare that an organization’s maintenance and operations department gets some positive attention from the media. Too often, maintenance makes the news when something goes wrong with a facility.

It’s even rarer when that attention dives down into the specifics of one aspect of the department’s activities. For example, how often do readers get an up-close look at the cost to maintain a greenspace at a major university? Recently, readers at the University of Idaho were treated to a similar deep dive into the campus’s snow removal efforts.

When snow falls, the university’s staff work through the night to keep campus safe for students and faculty, allowing university operations to go on as usual, according to The Argonaut. Facilities Services is responsible for plowing streets, entryways, sidewalks and most parking lots — getting to work as early as 2 a.m. after snowfall.

Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) removes snow from residential parking lots — green, purple and silver lots — throughout the day as resources allow. Charles Zillinger, director of Landscape and Exterior Services, says 25-26 employees work on snow removal. Facilities Services has seven larger plows and a large front-end loader. Both Facilities and PTS use around five smaller plows.

“Big plows come in and start with the streets, and small plows then come in at 3 a.m. to start doing the sidewalks. Then the scoopers come in and do the entries and stairs, and all those things,” Zillinger says.

Rebecca Couch, director of PTS, says her staff members start working around 5-6 a.m. on residential parking lots. As spaces empty out throughout the day, smaller plows can work to remove the snow. Landscape and Exterior Services prioritizes plowing streets, commuter parking lots and then sidewalks. Commuter parking lots are prioritized above residential parking because commuters need access to parking early in the morning, and residential parking has less activity, Zillinger says.

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.

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