Canadian Emissions Regulations

December 7, 2016

Rebates Help Canadian Manufacturers Meet Environmental Regulations

by Duncan Beaumont

New environmental regulations with stricter air pollution standards are pushing manufacturers in Ontario and other provinces to reduce emissions of eight common industrial contaminants. Is your facility in compliance?

If you are still using an exhaust and makeup air system as your only solution to ventilation, chances are the answer is no. Moving to a filtration-based air quality system will not only significantly reduce emissions, but will also save considerable money on heating and cooling. And right now, Ontario manufacturers making capital investments in air quality systems may qualify for significant rebates through their natural gas companies. Here’s what you need to know to make sure your company is in compliance and take advantage of the limited-time rebates.

Understanding the Emissions Regulations

New air pollution regulations took effect in Ontario in July 2016. Similar regulations are already in effect in Manitoba, and other provinces are likely to follow suit. The Ontario regulations detail new or updated emission limits on eight contaminants with known environmental or human health impacts, including:

  • Benzene
  • Benzo-a-pyrene
  • 1,3-Butadiene
  • Chromium and chromium compounds (metallic, divalent and trivalent)
  • Hexavalent chromium
  • Dioxins, furans and dioxin-like PCBs
  • Manganese and manganese compounds
  • Nickel and nickel compounds
  • Uranium and uranium compounds

The specific limits for Ontario can be found here (check with the Ministry of Environment for your province if outside Ontario).

These stricter limits mean that many companies using “exhaust to atmosphere” ventilation systems to meet indoor air quality standards are now finding themselves out of environmental compliance. Moving to a system that filters contaminants out of the air and returns clean air to the facility will significantly reduce environmental impacts caused by industrial processes. As an added benefit, companies moving to these systems will consume less natural gas—so much less, in fact, that the government is incentivizing natural gas companies to sell less gas.

Exhaust to Atmosphere vs. Filtration

To understand how moving to filtration saves money on natural gas, let’s take a closer look at how each system works.

A standard industrial ventilation system simply exhausts contaminated air to the outside. This removes the bulk of contaminants from the indoor environment, and can be a cheap and effective way to keep indoor air pollution levels within regulations. However, when you pump air outside, you have to bring new air back in to avoid negative pressure inside the building. That’s why these ventilation systems have a “makeup air” system that sucks outdoor air back into the building. This has a couple of serious drawbacks:

  • ambient_system_solution_canadian_emissionsMakeup air is brought into the building at outdoor temperatures, which means that your HVAC system is working overtime to reheat or cool the air to indoor temperatures. In cold Canadian winters, this can cost between $1.50-$2.00/CFM, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the operating cost of the average system each winter. If you also air condition in the ­summer, expect to pay an additional $2.00 or more per CFM.
  • The air brought back into the building isn’t always pristine: you’ll also be sucking in any contaminants in the air immediately outside your facility, including pollens, vehicle exhaust from parking lots and roadways, and potentially some of the contaminants you just blew ­­­­out.
  • Without adequate makeup air, negative pressure will reduce exhaust system performance, impact HVAC systems and even pull carbon monoxide back into the building from furnace heaters, water heaters and other natural gas heaters. It will also have a drastic affect on paint booth performance.


In contrast, a filtration system cleans the air and returns it back to the facility. This avoids the negative consequences of exhaust and makeup air: filtered air remains at indoor temperatures, additional contaminants are not introduced from the outside and there is no buildup of negative pressure in the building. These systems cost a little more up front, but pay for themselves over time through reduced operating costs and increased efficiency. In fact, a filtration system typically has a return in investment (ROI) of just three to six years.

Get Money Back for Air Quality Investments

If you live in Ontario and are considering an upgrade to your air quality systems, make sure you don’t leave money on the table. A rebate program is currently available through Ontario natural gas providers (such as Union Gas) to help their customers use less gas. Yes, that’s right—your natural gas provider is currently incentivized to sell you less gas, and is offering rebates for manufacturers investing in energy-saving technologies.

Here’s how this ties back to the environmental emissions standards. Remember how air filtration systems help companies save money on heating and cooling? Replacing an exhaust and makeup air system with an energy-efficient filtration system significantly reduces natural gas consumption. That makes these systems an eligible capital investment under the rebate program offered through natural gas companies.

Here’s how much that can be worth to companies making investments in air quality:

  • Engineering Feasibility Studies: Get up 66% of the cost of an engineering study back, up to $10,000. This can include studies conducted prior to installation of a new ambient air quality system such as a RoboVent VentMapping
  • New and Retrofit Equipment and Process Optimization: Ventilation and air quality improvement that reduce natural gas consumption are covered at a rate of $0.10 per annual m3 saved, up to 50% of the project cost with a maximum of $100,000.

You can find complete details on the program through your natural gas company. RoboVent can assist you in locating the correct contact at your gas company.

Keep in mind that there is a cap on the number of companies that will receive the rebates each year. If you are considering a capital investment in air quality in 2017, it’s best to jump on it early to claim your rebate.

Even of you don’t qualify for the rebate, it still makes good financial sense to consider moving from exhaust and makeup air to energy-efficient filtration. In addition to avoiding fines for violating emission standards, you’ll save significant money on natural gas—a win-win for the environment and your bottom line. Not sure what you need? Give RoboVent a call. Our Air Quality Engineers can help you find the most cost-effective and efficient system for your needs.