The University of Houston and the City of Houston are both situated within Harris County, Texas. Harris County is part of the Harris-Galveston-Brazoria-County (HGB) nonattainment area for ozone per the EPA. This area consists of Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller counties. The TCEQ monitors current ozone levels in the area and these levels are available for public view on the web. Currently the HGB nonattainment area is facing pressure from EPA to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds to the ambient air. The current consensus is that the presence nitrogen oxides and/or volatile organic compounds, along with the intense strong sunlight of the region, promote the formation of the undesirable ozone. The TCEQ is required to submit a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to the EPA which outlines the actions planned to reduce ozone levels. There are many proposed actions being considered which could impact the UH community along with the entire region.
Currently, the University of Houston is considered a minor source per the TCEQ air emission rules. EHLS conducts annual internal emission inventories to document our status. The University has two specific air permits that have been granted by the TCEQ. One permit is for the steam generating boilers in the Central Plant and the other is for a pathological incinerator. We also claim several types of general air emission sources that are allowed by the TCEQ without the need for a specific permit. These are called permits by rule (PBRs) and our most common PBR emission source is emergency power generators found throughout the campus. EHLS tracks the use of emergency generators on a 12 month rolling period. The emergency electric generators are operated under permit by rule authorization 106.511. Another common source of air emissions are asphalt or urethane roofing projects or asphalt paving projects. EHS requests that an Air Emissions Estimate Worksheet be submitted to EHS before the project starts.