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Air Pollution Control Permits

Determine if your project requires a San Diego Air Pollution Control District (APCD) permit.

Air pollution is a general term for undesirable amounts of particulate or gaseous substances in the atmosphere that may cause serious health effects or adverse environmental and ecological effects.

County permit requirement

To achieve and maintain air quality standards, San Diego APCD requires permits for certain types of equipment and extensive surface coating projects that may emit air pollutants.

Check the information below to determine if you need a permit for your project, and how to comply with requirements.

Important: Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) obtains all permits and submits all applications to the County for UC San Diego. Permits must be obtained before purchase or installation of equipment or materials.

  • Notify EH&S 6 months in advance of your intended project to allow for processing time. The APCD has 180 days to issue a permit after EH&S submits an application.

Boilers, heaters, and steam generators

Before installation of new gas-fired equipment or reconditioning of existing gas-fired equipment can begin, Authority to Construct and a Permit to Operate must be obtained from San Diego APCD.

EH&S Environmental Affairs will handle the paperwork if your project requires APCD authorization.

Determine if APCD authorization is required:

  • Will the unit have a heat input rating greater than or equal to 5 mmbtu/hr based on maximum potential rating values supplied by the burner manufacturer?
    Note: The capacity applies to each piece of equipment and not to each burner in the case of multiple burners on a single piece of equipment.
  • Will the unit operate on either liquid or gaseous fuels?
    Note: All new gas or liquid fuel equipment must be equipped with a low NOx burner or flue gas recirculation system to reduce NOx emissions below 20 ppm @3% O2.

If you answered yes to either of the questions above, APCD authorization is required. Contact EH&S Environmental Affairs to initiate the permit process.

If you answered no to either of the questions above, contact EH&S Environmental Affairs for a consultation.

Conditions of operation

Conditions of operation will be specifically stated in the Authority to Construct and the subsequent Permit to Operate issued by the APCD.

General conditions of operation include:

  • Permits must be posted within 25 feet of the equipment.
  • Document and keep monthly natural gas consumption on site for 3 years, available for inspectors upon request.

Emergency generators (diesel engines)

Before installation and operation of a diesel-fueled emergency generator can begin, Authority to Construct and a Permit to Operate must be obtained from San Diego APCD.

EH&S Environmental Affairs will handle the paperwork if your project requires APCD authorization. The APCD must be notified when the engine is operational and construction is complete.

Conditions of operation

  • Equipment requirements
    • Engines must have a current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California CARB emission certification report that identifies the air emissions expected from the operations of the engine under its intended load and application.
    • Engines must be:
      • Approved for sale in California by CARB
      • Approved for continuous operation on Very Low Sulfur (<15 ppm S) CARB-approved diesel
      • Capable of accepting retrofit emission controls for particulate emissions of either a particulate trap or a catalyst-based particulate filter without damage to the engine or significant negative impact on its operational performance
    • Engine fuel tanks must be:
      • Double-contained steel tanks
      • Positioned above and not in direct contact with an impervious surface and positioned to enable visual tank inspection for leaks or failure
      • Equipped with a containment system of sufficient volume to hold the full contents of the fuel system plus a minimum of 3" of precipitation if weather exposed
  • Operation
    • Use only certified California diesel fuel (CARB diesel).
    • Do not exceed 20 hours per year for non-emergency use unless more hours are authorized on your Permit to Operate.
    • Follow the UC San Diego Emergency Generator Maintenance Procedures. To obtain a copy, contact EH&S Environmental Affairs.
  • Recordkeeping
    • Keep a copy of the current Permit to Operate near the generator.
    • Maintain and enter the following information in an Operating Log kept near the generator for this purpose:
      • Run time (in hours), the date, time, and quantity of fuel consumed
      • Type of use (emergency, maintenance, or start up)
      • Justification for "emergency" operating hours
      • Maintenance records, including dates and type of service performed
      • Leak inspection schedules for fuel tanks
      • Any fuel additions to the tank
    • Report monthly run time to EH&S Environmental Affairs at Mail Code 0089 or e-mail

Annual compliance inspection

Operating Logs are reviewed annually by a San Diego County APCD inspector to verify compliance with the conditions in the Permit to Operate issued for each generator.

Fuel dispensing facilities

Fuel dispensing facilities are regulated under the Vapor Recovery Program administered by San Diego APCD.

Campus fuel dispensing equipment is covered under UC San Diego's APCD Permit for Fuel Station (Permit No APCD2006-PTO-971689).

  • For permit conditions and requirements, please see the permit posted in your workplace.

Surface coating operations

A permit is required for application of greater than 20 gallons of metal coatings or 500 gallons of wood coatings, including solvents, in any 12 month period.

Follow these guidelines for projects that don't require a permit:

  • Use only paints purchased locally, or that are certified to meet the current APCD requirements. Surface coating materials purchased in San Diego County will comply with local air pollution regulations as long as they are applied to the surface specified on the container. The label is the law in California.
  • Perform only minor touch-up painting and architectural* painting.
  • Use plastic sheeting or tarps to protect the environment and contain overspray. Avoid spraying during windy weather.
  • Protect nearby storm drains. Collect and contain rinse water from all painting activities for disposal through EH&S.
  • All other painting, like furniture and portable equipment (excluding the theater), must be done either at the Campus Service Center (CSC) paint shop or by a vendor in accordance with APCD regulations.

* Architectural refers to coatings applied to stationary structures and/or accessories that remain attached to a stationary structure during coating operations (e.g., cabinets, doors, elevators, fences, fixed mechanical equipment, lampposts, pipes, rain gutters, stairways, fire escapes, and window screens). Architectural coating also includes coatings applied to portable buildings, pavement, or curbs.

Regulations and polices

Questions? Contact EH&S Environmental Affairs.