Sustainability Analysis of the Commercial Winter Management Industry’s Use of Salt
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CitationSexton, Phillip C. 2017. Sustainability Analysis of the Commercial Winter Management Industry’s Use of Salt. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThis thesis research studies the current snow & ice management practices of the commercial winter management industry and how the industry can leverage existing research, data and best practices to reduce its use of sodium chloride (“rock salt”) for managing slippery conditions in parking lots and roadways. There is a quiet yet significant environmental epidemic occurring. Freshwater resources throughout North America are becoming increasingly contaminated with chlorides as a result of salt used for managing snow and ice conditions.
My main focus for this thesis is to study the primary drivers and variables that influence the amounts of salt being applied for controlling slippery conditions caused by snow and ice conditions. The primary question I attempt to answer is: How to enable a highly fragmented industry to reduce the rate and frequency of salt it uses? My main research objective is to develop a context based analysis of the commercial winter management industry’s sustainability issues that ultimately influence how much salt is applied and reveal possible reduction interventions.
I utilized five sets of existing salt application rate guidelines, five categories of industry context data and three methods of analysis to develop: 1) comparative analysis of salt application rates; 2) sustainability analysis of the commercial winter management industry; 3) materiality analysis of the primary drivers and variables that influence salt use.
My research results reveal the most heavily weighted drivers that influence the rate and frequency salt is applied. The results further suggest rather than invest in government regulation of salt application rates - that will be impossible to enforce in an extremely fragmented industry - a model of self-regulated interventions and guidelines is more likely to be accepted by the industry. The context analyses also revealed a number of other sustainability issues experienced by the commercial winter management industry that are important to understand and include for future salt reduction research and initiatives.
I merge my findings of the current sustainability issues assessed in this research into a proposed framework of solutions interventions that are possible for enabling the reduction of chloride contamination of freshwater bodies from commercial winter management operations. These interventions I advocate are reasonably adoptable by the broad categories of winter management stakeholders as a future national model for self-regulated standards of policy that enable standards of practice.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33826475