Snowmelt systems are becoming more popular in cold climates to keep sidewalks and streets free of snow and ice year round for the safety and convenience of pedestrians and motorists.
Most snowmelt systems use plastic tubing buried under the sidewalks and streets with hot water flowing through it to melt the snow and ice. Snowmelt systems eliminate the need for deicing chemicals, fuel and labor costs for snow removal for those areas served. Also, cleaning costs may be decreased for buildings with snowmelted sidewalks since deicing chemicals are not tracked into the building.
GMB Architecture + Engineering has more than 20 years of experience designing snowmelt systems. These systems range in size from small sidewalk areas of about 1,000 square feet to one of the largest systems in the world at about 460,000 square feet (10.5 acres). GMB’s professional engineers have the knowledge and experience to design entire snowmelt systems as part of a building design or as separate systems for large municipal or campus systems serving many streets and/or sidewalks. Some of these systems use relatively low cost sources of energy such as low grade or waste heat from power plants or geothermal ground loop systems. Such sources of heat offer an advantage to the Owner as well as reducing the impact on the environment.
Designing and operating a snowmelt requires considering many aspects of the design including weather data, surface materials and conditions, subsurface materials, source of heat, and other factors. Design of the installation details is critical for the snowmelt system to perform as desired.