The construction industry sector includes small businesses engaged in the construction or remodeling of buildings or engineering projects. This sector typically falls under NAICS section 23 and SIC sections 15-17. Some of the industrial activities associated with the construction sector generate air emissions, hazardous waste, waste, and stormwater and are regulated by the EPA, states, or local jurisdictions.
Resources on this page focus on more common activities within the construction industry and provide a general overview with linked resources to learn more. If you identify a resource that should be listed on this page, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clean Air Act requirements that can apply to construction activities are implemented primarily by each state’s air quality regulatory authority. There are a number of activities a small business in the construction industry might engage in which could be subject to air quality regulations. These include the following:
- Asbestos: Asbestos will typically be encountered by the builder during renovation or demolition of existing buildings. EPA has established a rule known as the Asbestos National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutant (NESHAP), Subpart M. The Construction Industry Compliance Assistance Center provides a number of resources regarding this issue.
- Dust (particulate matter) emissions: Fugitive dust, often referred to as particulate matter (PM), is often generated at building sites through vehicle travel or wind events. Your state or regional government might establish rules that include practices such as watering dirt/gravel areas or adding vegetation.
- Engines (mobile and stationary): Most air quality regulations impacting engines apply to new engines to ensure they meet minimum standards. If a portable non-road engine becomes stationary (it stays in one location for more than 12 months or in one location for a full annual operating period of a seasonal source), it will be considered “stationary” and may be subject to additional regulations. Your state or local jurisdiction might also have an anti-idling rule to reduce or prohibit vehicles from being operated while stationary. EPA provides resources regarding retrofits, maintenance, and fuels
- Open burning: Some states or local jurisdictions restrict or prohibit open burning, which is the burning of any material that releases smoke and other emissions directly into the air. Consult with your state or local government before burning any construction debris or materials.
- Ozone-depleting substances: Before demolition or renovation, the builder should ensure all equipment containing ozone-depleting substances (such as chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs) are properly disposed.
- Portable rock crushers, Portland cement plants, or hot-mix asphalt facilities: Although not common to most construction sites, one of these sources might be subject to a NSPS or NESHAP.
EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program requires that any renovation, repair, or painting (RRP) project occurring in a pre-1978 home or building be performed by a lead-safe certified contractor. Information about this program is also available in Spanish (en español).
EPA provides resources about stormwater discharges from construction activities and also maintains a “National Menu of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Stormwater.” A brief guide, “Does Your Construction Site Need a Stormwater Permit,” is available in English and Spanish (en español).
A Clean Water Act permit issued through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) is required for stormwater discharges if the construction activity:
- disturbs one acre or more of land;
- or if the activity disturbs less than one acre of land, but is part of a common plan of development or sale that will ultimately disturb one or more acres of land.
“Construction activity” includes earth-disturbing activities such as clearing, grading, and excavating land and other construction-related activities that could generate pollutants.
In addition to the federal regulation, your state or local government might also have stormwater management or discharge requirements.
- Construction and demolition waste (C&D): C&D includes wastes such as wood, roofing materials, insulation, and sheetrock. In some areas, this waste will be disposed in a landfill specific for C&D wastes. Building materials containing lead and asbestos and hazardous waste are regulated and are not considered C&D. If you are uncertain about proper disposal of a type of waste, check with your local or state agency.
- Hazardous Waste: Examples of hazardous waste (HW) that may be generated at a construction site include paints, paint thinners, used oil, and solvents. Hazardous waste is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which details proper management, treatment, and disposal. Under RCRA, EPA can authorize states to implement HW requirements; businesses should check with their state or local agency regarding HW requirements and permitting. Learn more about hazardous waste and RCRA.
- Universal waste: Examples of universal waste include batteries, thermostats, and fluorescent lamps. Rules about universal waste are less strict than hazardous waste rules. To learn more about how universal waste should be handled, contact your state or local agency.
- Contact your state SBEAP
- Look up your state regulatory agency
- Find a number of resources related to environmental compliance for the construction industry from the Construction Industry Compliance Assistance Center
- BMP: Best Management Practice
- HW: Hazardous Waste
- NAICS: North American Industry Classification System
- NESHAP: National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants
- NSPS: New Source Performance Standards
- RCRA: Resource Conservation Recovery Act
- SIC: Standard Industrial Classification