Most people think parking lot sweeping in homeowners associations or condos is for aesthetic reasons only. In the retail world, empty bottles, paper bags, cigarette butts, and overflowing trash bins can drive the decision of a consumer. The same holds true for a potential homebuyer as they pull into a community parking lot.
Street sweeping using sweeper trucks, leaf vacuums, or done manually with backpack blowers and lot blowers have a significant amount of cost tied to labor, equipment, and fuel. “The industry has seen the cost of new equipment rise nearly 20% across the board, as well as shortages in availability of this equipment and the parts needed to repair any damages,” explains Scott Smith with BrightView Landscaping in Blue Bell, Pa.
The equipment requires labor and often times needs to be done at times where lots and roads are free from parked vehicles and traffic. “Labor rates have increased almost 30% year over year and shortages in personnel have led to working additional hours driving up the cost through overtime,” says Smith. Fuel has started to trend lower but still over 25% higher than a year ago in many areas, he adds.
Maintaining clean parking facilities shouldn’t just be a good idea. It should be a requirement.
While aesthetics are important, there’s another reason why parking lot sweeping is a necessity. The environment is suffering, and water and air are the main resources that are being polluted.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists sweeping as one of the best management practices to preventing water pollution.
Municipalities consider street sweeping one of the most economical ways to cut down the amount of sediments, trash, bacteria, and vegetation that build up on streets and parking lots and eventually run off into water systems. Keeping storm drains and catch basins clean also reduces the chances of street flooding during heavy rainstorms.
Meanwhile, according to a report by the EPA, the main cause of air pollution is airborne dust from roads, construction sites, or from activity in parking lots, even during sweeping.
Environmental regulations are requiring more specific efforts to eliminate sources of contamination to streams, lakes, and air, like fugitive dust—a term used to describe very small, dust-like particles that linger in the air. Sweeping contractors must maintain maximum particle matter emissions of less than 10 micrometers (smaller than one-tenth the diameter of human hair), known as PM10, as the standard for sweeping and material removal to ensure low pollution levels.
According to the EPA, exposure to high concentrations of particulate matter, including airborne dust, affects breathing, aggravates existing respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, and can cause lung damage and certain types of cancer. The EPA’s fugitive dust control measures require that dirt tracked by vehicles onto paved surfaces be promptly removed to prevent particulates from being ground up and become airborne as moving cars stir the fugitive dust into the air.
Sweeping parking lots will keep your property compliant with local, state, and federal environmental regulations, minimizing air and water pollutants. You can avoid costly fines associated with noncompliance while making a commitment to the environment with regularly scheduled parking lot sweeper service.
The asphalt and concrete surfaces in parking lots or garages are a significant investment, so it makes sense to maintain them by sweeping regularly. Sweeping removes abrasive dirt, sand, and other debris that diminishes the service life of your parking area’s pavement, striping, and seal coating. The cost of repaving a parking lot or repairing a parking deck often far exceeds the cost of a regular sweeping schedule.
Regularly scheduled sweeping also safeguards against any water that might pool in cracks or holes in the pavement, causing asphalt to deteriorate, or causing someone to trip and fall. Sweeping parking lots also reduces the need for extensive interior floor maintenance by minimizing the amounts of dirt and particulates that are tracked inside.
Finding the right contractor
Do your research and seek out sweeping contractors that have experience. Any reliable sweeping contractor, for example, is PM10-certified. Contractors affiliated with sweeping associations like 1-800-SWEEPER or the North American Power Sweeping Association take training of their employees seriously and have safety programs in place to ensure their contractors provide a high quality of service.
Also, look at the equipment: Is it new, or is it old and rusted? Companies that invest in their equipment are more than likely investing in their employees, who will perform the job more efficiently.
Sweeping might look like a big expense up front, but in the long run, it will extend the life of your pavement, give you great curb appeal for your current and potential residents, and aid in helping the environment.
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Ray White is sales manager at Agua Trucks in Litchfield Park, Ariz.