Air Conditioning Ventilation Image

General Description

The operation and maintenance of heating (i.e., boilers/steam generators), air conditioning systems (i.e. chillers), and refrigeration systems for buildings.

Summary of Federal Requirements


The regulations apply if the facility is producing its own heat and/or air conditioning.

The source of heat is commonly referred to as a "boiler" or a "furnace" and is also known as a steam generator. It is a device used for combusting fuel for the purpose of producing steam (including fossil fuel-fired steam generators associated with combined cycle gas turbines). Nuclear steam generators are not included.

The following types of steam generators/boilers/furnaces are federally regulated:

  • Fossil fuel-fired steam-generating unit of more than 73 MW (250 MBtu/h) heat input rate that started construction or modification after 17 August 1971
  • Fossil fuel and wood-residue fired steam-generating unit capable of firing fossil fuel at a heat input rate of more than 73 MW (250 MBtu/h) that started construction or modification after 17 August 1971.
  • Lignite fired steam-generating units that started construction or modification after 22 December 1976
  • Steam-generating units that started construction, modification, or reconstruction after 19 June 1984 with a heat input capacity of greater than 29 MW (100 MBtu/h).
  • Steam-generating units, that started construction, modification, or reconstruction after 9 June 1989, with a maximum design heat input capacity of greater than or equal to 2.9 MW (10 MBtu/h) but less than 29 MW (100 MBtu/h).
  • A new (construction started after 13 Jan 2003) or reconstructed industrial, commercial, or institutional boiler or process heater that is located at, or is part of, a major source of hazardous air pollutants (HAP).

For all types of steam generating units/boilers, emissions of particulate, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitric oxides (NOx), and opacity are regulated. Air emissions monitors are required for particulates, opacity, CO, SO2 and NO2. The emission limitations and the monitors required depend on the size and age of the steam generator as well a the fuel combusted.

If the facility is a "Major Source", the steam generator may be regulated under a Title V permit.

Air Conditioning

Of primary concern is the release of CFCs. No person maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of appliances may knowingly vent or otherwise release into the environment any refrigerant from any device which contains and uses a refrigerant and which is used for household or commercial purposes, including any air conditioner, refrigerator, chiller, or freezer. Collectively these are referred to as "appliances" in the regulations.

Personnel who maintain appliances containing CFCs or halons must be trained and certified regardless of whether they are Agency employees or hired from a contractor to do the job. The equipment used by these personnel must be certified as well.

When opening appliances for service, maintenance, repair, or disposal the appliance must be evacuated to levels defined in the regulations. The level of evacuation is based on size and age of equipment as well as the activity being performed.

Both leaking commercial refrigeration equipment and leaking industrial process refrigeration equipment must be repaired when the limits stated in the regulations are exceeded.

Note that owners of Federally owned commercial or comfort cooling appliances are allowed an additional year to complete a retrofit or retirement of an appliance if the following criteria are met:

  • a delivery time of more than 30 wk from the beginning of the official procurement process is quoted due to an appropriations/procurements problem
  • the USEPA is notified within 6 mo of the expiration of the 30-day period with an explanation of why more than 1 yr is needed
  • records are kept to document that these criteria are met.

Facilities servicing appliances normally containing 50 lb or more of refrigerant must maintain documentation as to how much refrigerant was added.

Summary of State Requirements

States typically regulate emissions from steam generators/boilers that are smaller than those regulated under Federal requirements.

States may require construction permits for the construction of steam generators/boiler and operation permits for their operation depending on the size and fuel used. Permits will dictate the type of monitoring to be done, the emissions limitations, control methodology, and reporting requirements.

State-by-state guidance concerning air emissions can be found at ENVCAP's Air Pollution State Resource Locator.

Laws and Statutes

Clean Air Act

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