Air Emissions

Who’s Monitoring GT Air Emissions?

Title V Air Quality? What’s that? A lot of people out there may not realize all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that our campus remains in good standing with the EPA. Learn more about EHS Environmental Programs and see what role you might personally play in keeping our air clean here at Georgia Tech.

The Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act was first passed by Congress in 1970 and has since been amended several times. This legislation authorized the development of comprehensive Federal and State regulations to limit emissions from both stationary and mobile sources. The Georgia Tech campus and all of our fuel burning equipment counts as one such stationary source. Our convenient location right in the middle of Atlanta makes us subject to an even more intense set of rules, because our city and the surrounding area are classified as “non-attainment” with National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone and Particulate Matter (fine). 

Sources of Emissions

A large part of our campus utilizes distributed steam that we create right here at the Holland Plant. This steam is piped all over campus to keep our buildings warm and provide hot water for showers and dining halls. Other buildings on campus may have their own boilers or water heaters (along with other fuel burning equipment like emergency generators). We burn a lot of natural gas to run all of this equipment, and thanks to our aforementioned location in a non-attainment area, Georgia Tech is then classified as a “major source” of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx). As a good practice, our friends in the Facilities Design and Construction group and Auxiliary Services help by choosing to purchase low-NOx equipment when we build new buildings or perform renovations. As older, dirtier equipment gets phased out, the air we breathe gets cleaner! 

Title V Permits

Thanks to our status as a “major source,” we are subject to a Title V Operating Permit, mandated by the U.S. EPA and issued under the jurisdiction of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. There are pages upon pages of requirements within the permit, including reporting and record keeping requirements for processes and equipment located at all ends of the campus. For example, every six months we are required to submit a detailed report to the Environmental Protection Division summarizing our emissions. The permit doesn’t just cover fuel burning units. The scrubbers at the Marcus Nanotechnology building have several requirements in our permit, as does the fueling station at the motor pool. 
As we build new buildings and place new fuel burning equipment and air pollution control devices on campus, we also must amend our permit to account for these additional emissions. It is therefore important that if you are considering adding any new fuel burning equipment, whether it be a boiler or an emergency generator, you should contact our office as soon as possible and let us know. 

During this time of year, the campus is required to tune all of our fuel burning equipment that has the potential to emit 1 ton of NOx during any 12-month period. This covers most of our larger boilers and water heaters. We have from February 1st to May 1st to accomplish this task, and it serves to lower our overall emissions during ozone season (May 1 – September 30th). 
Our permit is public record, and you can read a copy of it here:

Contact us!

If you’ve got questions about air emissions, National Ambient Air Quality Standards, or any other environmental topic, please feel free to contact either Dave Marder or Ryan Lisk.

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