Do Municipal Buildings Need Environmental Approvals?
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To determine whether or not a building needs environmental approval requires first identifying any emissions the building may produce. If those emissions are considered contaminants by your local regulatory body, an approval may be required. Air quality consultants in your area will be able to advise you.
In Ontario, municipalities are required to follow the rules set out in the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and to operate within the bounds of an environmental compliance approval (ECA) or an Environmental Activity Sector Registration (EASR). In short, if a building emits contaminants it is likely to require an environmental approval. There are some exceptions to this, such as comfort heating systems powered by natural gas and standby power systems.
Other exemptions include retail food service equipment, but depending on the circumstance, there can be complications. It is possible that while the equipment is exempt, the actual building is still required to meet certain criteria. If in doubt, it’s best to consult professional air quality assessment consultants.
These professionals will be able to tell you, for example, that an HVAC system using propane or natural gas is likely exempt, provided the thermal input rating is less than 10.5 million kilojoules for each unit and that drift eliminators are used on any cooling towers.
For standby power systems, the exemption requirements call for the system to be used only in times of power outages, and it must be fueled by diesel, natural gas, propane, or biodiesel.
Other factors to consider
These guidelines are meant to offer insight but should not be used to determine whether or not your municipal building requires an environmental approval. Rather, consult with an environmental professional. DiGiSci Environmental Consulting assists clients in navigating the rules and regulations surrounding ECAs and EASRs and can determine whether or not your municipal building needs an environmental approval.
The location of the building can have an impact on whether or not an environmental approval is required, and what began as an environmental approval process could stray into areas of land use. In addition to environmental approvals, a land use compatibility analysis may also be required. This is done to minimize issues with conflicting land uses. Usually, it is required when there are potential environmental concerns, such as emissions of pollutants.
The environmental protection act is written in such a way as to minimize the potential for environmental harm by barring the discharge of materials with the potential to cause adverse effects.
The matter of whether or not your municipal building requires an environmental approval can be further complicated in multi-tenant buildings, where the municipality may be only one of several different organizations in the building. Complicating factors include the placement of intakes in relation to equipment that could otherwise be exempt from requiring an environmental compliance approval.
The issue of whether or not a building requires an environmental approval can be complicated, with several factors at play. To ensure federal or provincial regulations are being followed, it’s best to consult an expert.
Need an environmental assessment expert? Contact DiGiSci Environmental Consulting today.