Vehicle emission reduction equipment requirements

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Vehicle emission reduction equipment requirements are policies that require vehicles to use specific equipment in order to reduce their emission of toxic substances, usually released by the combustion of fossil fuels, into the atmosphere. Types of vehicles that may be subject to such requirements include passenger automobiles as well as off-road vehicles used for construction and agriculture. As opposed to a "standards-based approach," in which simply the amount of emissions from a vehicle is regulated, equipment requirements prescribe specific equipment that have been shown to reduce emissions. Common substances which are detrimental to air quality and whose release may be mitigated by required equipment include SO2, NOx, ozone, and particulate matter. Vehicle emission reduction equipment requirements have historically been implemented at the national level, typically in conjunction with overarching clean air policies and initiatives. The policies are most effective when they include local and state government participation to further limit and monitor emission activity. Ultimately, the requirements can be expected to increase costs for vehicle owners, though flexibility with respect to equipment design may help drive more competitive production and lower prices.



Conceptual Example

A national government is experiencing increased pollution due to increased urbanization, driving and traffic congestion. Accordingly, it hopes to reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions in order to increase public and environmental health. To begin the execution of this goal, it has required that vehicle manufacturers use specified emission reduction equipment certified by the government in the creation of all new automobiles and trucks. By requiring that all mass-produced vehicles carry a standardized technology or piece of equipment, the government reduces the amount of harmful emissions into the air from the use of such vehicles, resulting in cleaner air and various public health benefits.

Specific Example

In the U.S., national policies and other economic pressures have caused many vehicle manufacturers to reduce the toxicity and amount of their emissions into the atmosphere. As a result, newer model engines have generally been significantly less harmful to the environment than older models. Accordingly, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) requires that all trucks driven into marine terminals use an engine with a model year of 1994 or newer. In addition, PANYNJ also created a new program that provides eligible applicants with a grant to cover up to one-fourth of the purchase price of a newer vehicle as well as the possibility of low-interest loans to cover the remaining three-fourths of the cost. [1].



Tradeoffs of implementing this policy may include:

  1. Reduction in local construction activity if the required equipment necessitates substantial investments to upgrade construction vehicles in order to be in compliance with the new policy.
  2. Cost of transition: replacing or updating older engines and unsustainable equipment with newer, more efficient technologies.
  3. Possible job losses due to decrease in local construction costs.
  4. Continued reliance on fossil fuels by merely promoting their decreased and more efficient use, rather than pushing for alternatives with a less harmful impact on the environment.
  5. May be costly and difficult to enforce and implement due to the specificity of requirements at an individual automobile's level and the potential time-intensive nature of determining whether or not the equipment is properly installed and used.
Compatibility Assessment

Compatibility Assessment.png

If answered yes, the following questions indicate superior conditions under which the policy is more likely to be appropriate:

  1. Have harmful air emissions contributed to public health issues?
  2. Does the city or town endure large amounts of construction or congestion?
  3. Do air quality monitors indicate negative results?
  4. Has there been public opinion indicating desire for environmental reforms?
  5. Does smog exist and has it effected weather or water quality of the city or town?
  6. Is it cost-effective to implement emission reduction equipment?
  7. Does the technology to outfit vehicles with emission reduction equipment exist and is it readily accessible?


Assuming that a jurisdiction has decided to adopt the policy, the following questions will need to be answered when determining how to implement this policy:

  1. What types of vehicles and sources of emissions will be subject to the equipment requirements?
    1. Specific targets of the requirements would be large construction sites as well as any non-road motor vehicles such as trucks.
    2. Additionally, since the year 2010, all U.S. automobiles require a catalytic converter to be up to standards. [2]
  2. What equipment will be required?
    1. Equipment for standard vehicles often focuses on the incorporation of catalytic converters.
    2. In addition to targeting equipment, new fuel requirements may also be imposed on diesel fuel manufacturers. [3]
    3. Diesel engines will be required to meet certain emission standards based on their horsepower. Specific information can be found at:
  3. Is the cost of emission reduction equipment worth the benefits?
    1. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 have set out stricter standards for the improvement of air quality. Since the reforms, SO2 emissions have fallen by about 70% and lead has fallen by 99%. Studies predict that by 2020, the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments will have saved $2 trillion in economic benefits.
  4. Will changing this policy have a significant increase on public health?
    1. Particulate matter has caused the following health problems: difficulty breathing, coughing, decreased lung function, asthma, irregular heartbeat, nonfatal heart attacks, and premature death. New regulations will reduce particulate matter in the air and increase health of citizens.
  5. What can be done to retrofit (repowering, rebuilding, and replacing) within the process?
    1. Dated engines have been called for replacement to a new model by multiple city and county governments.
    2. Investment in clean diesel (ULSD) will dramatically increase air quality.
  6. What is the benefit to those who must follow new regulations?
    1. Increase in public health as well as the working environment
    2. Appreciation and recommendations of industry which uses sustainable practices.



  • Notable entities who have implemented or adopted this policy include:
  1. City of Chicago – requires contractors to receive a “Green Fleet Score”, in order to reduce emissions. [1]
  2. City of Los Angeles– all trucks must have a 2007 or newer model year engine [1]
  3. City of Oakland – prohibits trucks with engines from 1993 or earlier. Additionally, those who purchase alternative-fueled trucks can receive funding through the Goods Movement Emission Reduction Funding Program. [1]
  4. City of Seattle – recommends trucks to have 1994 engine or newer. [1]
  5. City of Houston – encourage trucks to seek eligibility though the Texas Emissions Reduction Program. [1]











  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Why Retrofit?" Diesel Technology Forum. Accessed January 22, 2016.
  2. Thomas, B. G. (2013). What Materials are Used in Catalytic Converters? Retrieved November 21, 2016, from
  3. Lewis, P., Rasdorf, W., Frey, H., Pang, S., and Kim, K. (2009). "Requirements and Incentives for Reducing Construction Vehicle Emissions and Comparison of Nonroad Diesel Engine Emissions Data Sources." J. Constr. Eng. Manage., 10.1061/(ASCE)CO.1943-7862.0000008, 341-351.
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