Reduce emissions to stay competitive

As you consider the changes your company might face in the next several years, be sure to give emissions reduction some focused attention. Develop a plan to reduce emissions now and you’ll be prepared to compete, no matter what the future brings.


You don’t have to be a Boy Scout to appreciate the wisdom of the organization’s famous motto: be prepared. We all understand the need to anticipate change and be ready to respond to it. As you consider the changes your company might face in the next several years, be sure to give emissions reduction some focused attention. It may not be a major concern today because you work in an area that meets federal air-quality standards or own machines built after emissions-reduction technologies were manufactured into off-road equipment (1996 in the United States). But most experts agree that in the years ahead, reducing emissions will become a higher priority for heavy equipment owners, especially those that maintain legacy fleets. That’s why Caterpillar recommends you make emissions reduction a key factor in the life-cycle planning process. Develop a plan to reduce emissions now and you’ll be prepared to compete—no matter what the future brings.

There are several reasons why emissions reduction has become a more important issue for those who operate equipment built before emissions standards were put into place.

  • States filing implementation plans. There are approximately 500 counties in the United States that are designated as “nonattainment” areas, meaning the air quality does not meet standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The states in which these counties are located must document their plans to improve air quality and achieve the standards. These plans, which must be filed in 2007, can specify strict emissions requirements for equipment used on publicly funded projects—even if that equipment has not been subjected to regulation in the past. As the plans go into effect, equipment owners who have taken steps to reduce emissions will be in a stronger position to compete for more of the available business.
  • Public pressures increase beyond major metropolitan areas. While most nonattainment areas are in densely populated cities, the pressure to reduce emissions in other locations has also been growing. For example, haze has been a problem in some U.S. national parks. As a result, earthmoving projects on or near park land—which is typically very remote—can be subjected to tough emissions standards. The same is true for oil and gas exploration projects, also found in rural areas. The fact is, bid specifications for many types of projects are more apt to include emissions requirements today than they were in the past. There’s a growing expectation that work will be done in the cleanest possible manner—no matter what the job is or where the project is located. That means your ability to win future business may depend on the actions you’ve taken to reduce the emissions your legacy engines are generating.
  • Tier 3 engines and ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel hit the marketplace. With the recent introduction of Tier 3 engines and ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel for off-road equipment, the bar for emissions performance has been raised once again. Newer machines now produce anywhere from 50 – 80% less emissions than equipment built before 1996. As the gap between what was and is possible—in terms of emissions performance—has increased, the pressure to reduce emissions from legacy engines has intensified. Even if your fleet’s emission performance was considered adequate in the past, it may not be acceptable going forward.
  • Incentive programs get results. As public scrutiny on legacy engine emissions has increased, government agencies have developed a variety of financial incentives for emissions reduction. Programs like the EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign, the Texas Emissions Reduction Program and the California Air Resource Board’s Moyer Program are providing a significant amount of funding for many types of emissions-reduction solutions. Finding and securing these grants and loans can be challenging, but the rewards are worth it. With federal or state support, you can cut the cost of emissions reduction, position your company to compete for more business and enhance your reputation as a sustainable organization.


One obvious way to reduce the emissions your legacy equipment is generating is to replace machines with new products or used models that feature emissions-reduction technologies. But replacement is not your only option. Many equipment owners choose to retrofit existing machines with emissions-reduction solutions. Retrofit solutions for on-highway engines include oxidation catalysts and diesel particulate filters, while stationary engines can be equipped with oxidation catalysts, diesel particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction technology. The option that’s right for you depends on many factors, including the type of equipment you’re running, its age and condition, and the emissions objectives you’re trying to achieve. There are three main types of retrofit solutions for off-highway equipment:

  • Engine repower. Replace older engines with new or remanufactured lower-emissions engine systems.
  • Emissions upgrade. Upgrade an engine to Tier-1 compliance during the normal rebuild cycle by adding a small number of proven components that reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter emissions.
  • Aftertreatment. Replace the existing muffler on a Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 engine with an oxidation catalyst or diesel particulate filter to achieve additional reductions in carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon and particulate matter emissions.


It’s almost always faster and more economical to invest in a retrofit solution at the same time other major service work is being performed. That’s why we encourage you to make emissions reduction a factor in life-cycle planning. Today a typical life-cycle plan outlines a timetable to repair, rebuild and ultimately replace the equipment. We recommend that future plans include a schedule to repair, rebuild, retrofit and replace.  By planning your retrofit decisions well in advance, you’ll protect the value of your fleet, balance future capital requirements, control costs and reduce unnecessary downtime.


Your fleet’s emissions performance may already be affecting your competitiveness, and it will likely become an even larger factor in the future. To make sure you’re prepared for the realities of a cleaner, greener business environment, start planning now. The experts at Stowers Engines are an excellent source of emissions retrofit information and support. They’ll help you incorporate emissions-reduction objectives into your life cycle plan and suggest solutions that will allow you to run a cleaner fleet, while meeting your performance, life and operating cost targets. Working together, you can reduce emissions and stay competitive—today and in the future.