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Tougher Tier 4 standards on the horizon


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December 1, 2014 by PATRICK CALLAN

The bulk of emissions emanating from Canadian construction sites could soon be coming from workers themselves as more stringent Tier 4 standards take effect in 2015.

Tier 4 standards to reduce smog-forming pollutants—such as nitrous oxide and particulate matter—from off-road diesel engines have been gradually introduced since they were mandated in Canada in January 2012. These engines are most commonly found in construction, mining and agriculture machines like bulldozers, tractors, heavy haulers and portable generator sets.

Starting on January 1, 2015, those importing or manufacturing off-road diesel engines rated 560 kW or less will have to meet final Tier 4 standards on new models. In addition, they will no longer be able to use transition engines with 56 kW that meet Tier 2 standards.

Environment Canada, who implements and enforces Tier 4 regulations, gives the following example: for a 225 kW rated engine, final Tier 4 standards will begin with the 2014 model year. However, transition engine provisions allow 225kW engines that meet Tier 3 standards to be imported or manufactured up until Dec. 31, 2017.

In terms of rolling out Tier 4 standards, Canada and the U.S. are following along the same trajectory according to guidelines from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The two countries also work together and share information about testing and compliance.

“That’s what we strive to do with all our vehicles and engines,” says Josée Lavergne, manager of air pollutants and regulatory development at Environment Canada. “For the manufacturers it’s a North American market and having the same regulations is simple. It saves costs to the government and mostly to the stakeholders to do that.”

Tier 4 compliance in Canada can be done in one of two ways: providing proof of certification by the EPA or providing proof that the engine meets emissions standards.

Offenders could receive fines of up to $1 million and/or up to three years in prison for failure to meet the engine emission standard, demonstrate compliance, label engines or keep records.

According to Lavergne, Environment Canada enforces Tier 4 standards in different ways. “We have implementing the regulation and we have enforcing the regulation,” she says.

This involves monitoring and reviewing documents that have been provided as evidence of conformity. It also involves inspecting engines, emission components and emission testing.

The purpose of implementing Tier 4 standards for off-road diesel engines is to improve the health of the environment and the health of Canadians. Lavergne says when looking at overall air quality improvement, it is an accumulation of many different factors, regulations and initiatives. And as Canadian fleets continue to turnover to meet the tougher Tier 4 standards, we will start to notice significant reductions in emissions over time. “If you compare the Tier 4 standard to the previous standard, there is a reduction of allowable emissions by 37 per cent for non-methane hydrocarbon and nitrous oxide.”

To meet Tier 4 standards, manufacturers are introducing new features and technology: particulate filters, exhaust gas recirculation, nitrous oxide absorbers and selective catalytic reduction systems similar to those in cars, to name a few.

“At the moment Tier 4 emissions [standards] are pretty recent. There’s still many years to go for fleets to turnover,” says Lavergne. “We will continue monitoring the implementation to make sure that these reductions happen. Should more stringent standards be introduced in the U.S., because of our policy of alignment, then we would follow suit.”


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