What's the deal with Tier 4?

Tier 4 broadly refers to regulations imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and European Union (EU) on diesel engine exhaust emissions from off-road equipment. These emissions contain gases, vapors, liquid aerosols, and particles of chemical substances (particulate matter or PM). The EPA is regulating PM as well as nitrogen oxide (NOx) because of the potential respiratory and carcinogenic effects.

The limits for PM and NOx have been defined by the EPA with various implementation dates to allow engine and equipment manufacturers to develop the technologies needed to meet these requirements. These limits are “tiered” with decreasing limits of PM and NOx and also grouped by engine power ranges for off-road equipment. Tier 4i, also referred to as Tier 4 Interim, was implemented in January 2011; Tier 4 final will take effect in 2014.

There are a few things that you, as an asphalt contractor will have to do differently with your Tier 4 equipment, including using ultra low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel.

Because ULSD is currently only refined and sold in North America, Europe and Japan, it’s possible that Tier 4 could disqualify a number of buyers of second-hand equipment from diesel-regulated nations.

Bidders from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia have supported used-equipment prices for years. There is no indication ULSD will become available anytime in the near future in those markets.

“We estimate that a very large percentage (up to 40%) of used machines currently sold in North America are eventually purchased by users in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East,” says Frank Manfredi, president of Manfredi & Associates Inc., a market research firm specializing in the construction, mining, agricultural and material handling machinery industries. “We believe that when used machines equipped with Tier 4i and Tier 4 final engines reach the end of their first useful life stage, the traditional flow of used machines from North America to emerging markets will be severely constrained.”

Manfredi & Associates is conducting a study to anticipate the unintended consequences of the U.S. diesel-emissions regulations. Visit ForConstructionPros.com for more information.

On page 65 of this issue, we’ve included a special report with more information on how Tier 4 regulations will affect asphalt contractors. Leading manufacturers from the road building industry, including Roadtec, Caterpillar, Wirtgen America and Terex, explain the regulations and answer some FAQs.

The better you understand the regulations, the more prepared you’ll be, and the less you’ll have to fear.