Contractors Facing Complicated, Varied Emissions Compliance

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | February 2010 Vol. 65 No. 2

Contractors and other operators of off road, diesel powered equipment are encountering a growing number of public construction projects that require retrofits of diesel engines powering older equipment.

These retrofits are not directly related to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 4 rules currently being phased in by interim stages. However, the retrofits are being adopted by local agencies following EPA air quality monitoring that designate an area in "non attainment" status and require a plan to bring the area into compliance with EPA standards.

Two large cities that have implemented retrofit requirements for older off highway equipment are New York City and Philadelphia, but the move toward stricter emission rules are not limited to large metropolitan areas.

Joe Suchecki, director of public affairs at the Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA), said a number of cities, states and government agencies are requiring retrofits for non road diesel equipment used on public projects.

"These requirements," he added, "can take the form of ordinances or laws such as in New York City or more local bid specification requirements. On the far end of the spectrum is the state of California where the Air Resources Board has passed a regulation requiring retrofits of essentially all diesel vehicles and equipment in the state."

Local compliance
Such local requirements are reported to be keeping many equipment and engine dealers and distributors busy helping customers address the requirements and adapt their equipment.

Retrofits required include mobile equipment such as loader backhoes and excavators and widely used stationary equipment such as pumps and air compressors.

For example, Joe Abbott, national sales manager of Godwin Pumps, says enforcement of emission regulations in New York City and Philadelphia are generating many customer calls for assistance. The Philadelphia specification mandating retrofits was included in city contracts issued after June 1, 2009, with a six month grace period that expired Dec. 1, 2009.

Abbott said his company's pumps with diesel engines of 50 horsepower and higher are affected.

"We are devoting an incredible amount of engineering time researching solutions and evaluating the most economical methods of making retrofits to respond to the needs of owners of our pumps," said Abbott. "Also, it is important to take into consideration the costs of ongoing maintenance required by retrofit accessories such s diesel particulate filters."