UNC Charlotte, with assistance from Clean Air Carolina, recently changed its “Design and Construction Manual” to require contracted companies to reduce diesel fuel emissions while working on campus. These new standards, which will apply to all future construction projects on campus, do not affect projects already in progress or out for bid.
Diesel engines produce particulate matter that pose significant health risks, according to Clean Air Carolina. These particulates are small enough to invade a person’s lungs and cardiovascular system. Eye irritation and nausea are other adverse conditions posed by exposure to particulate matter.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) updated diesel emission regulations require diesel engines meet Tier 4 standards, which significantly reduce particulate matter emissions and oxides of nitrogen to near zero levels. Equipment manufactured since the EPA’s updated regulation meet Tier 4 standards; however, construction companies often use older equipment on construction projects.
UNC Charlotte, along with two major health care providers, are members of the Clean Construction Partnership, a Clean Air Carolina initiative. Partnering organizations have adopted guidelines to discourage prolonged idling of equipment on construction sites and to require all equipment to use the lowest exhaust emissions possible.
"With the increasing amount of construction activity at UNC Charlotte, this seemed like a unique and obvious opportunity to address emissions emanating from among the most significant sources on campus," stated Bart Bruchok, director of capital projects. “By doing so, the University is contributing to improved air quality not only for members of the campus community but the greater public, too.”