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What is California’s New WAIRE Program?

By December 29, 2022January 9th, 2023Blog, News
Aerial view of dozens of California warehouses with mountains and blue sky in the background.

Recently, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, also known as AQMD, adopted Rule 2305 or the WAIRE program. According to this program, warehouse operators and owners in the SCAQMD jurisdiction will need to follow WAIRE point requirements every year. This program’s rules apply to any warehouse facility with an indoor floor space of over 100,000 feet within one building.

WAIRE’s calculation includes the total weighted trips trucks make to warehouses each year, a stringency value, plus another variable that tends to change based on the year. Once these factors are combined, they result in the WPCO (WAIRE points compliance obligation) value that warehouse operators or owners have to earn.

Under the WAIRE program and PR 2305, warehouses should earn a specific amount of WAIRE points to ensure they satisfy the compliance obligation for WAIRE. You can earn points through different ways like buying near-zero or zero-emission vehicles, creating a custom plan to comply with WAIRE regulations, installing energy efficient alternatives like solar panels, or providing the South Coast AQMD with a WAIRE mitigation fee where one WAIRE point is equal to $1,000.

The South Coast AQMD’s current jurisdiction currently covers around forty-five percent of California’s population. Massive parts of 4 of California’s most populous counties, Riverside County, Orange County, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles, come under South Coast AQMD’s jurisdiction. There is a huge likelihood that PR 2305 could impact over 4,000 California warehouse operators.

Introduction of PR 2305 in California

Aerial view of three warehouses in California.

The South Coast AQMD governing board started working on an indirect source rule to address the ever-increasing problem of heavy-duty emissions, especially in California. After working on this rule for years, the governing body finally formed the PR 2305 and the WAIRE program. According to PR 2305, any warehouse subject to this rule must actively try to minimize emissions locally and regionally or facilitate reductions.

To correctly estimate the possible impact of implementing PR 2305, the South Coast AQMD developed over nineteen scenarios to check the potential outcomes of compliance. Most scenarios pointed out that the highest cost warehouse owners and operators would need to pay would be around slightly less than a Dollar per square foot or yard.

Despite the different scenarios, many organizations from South California expressed their concerns about PR 2305s adoption. This resulted in a joint-filing effort with multiple committees, coalitions, and action groups writing letters expressing concerns about the Warehouse Indirect Source rule and PR 2305. Common concerns from the parties mentioned above included criticism of implementing heavy regulatory costs on an essential industry, requests for more benefits, especially for those who adopt the rule early, to requests for yearly WAIRE point reports to become accessible to the general public.

Why is WAIRE Important for California

Palm trees against a polluted Los Angeles skyline.

The primary reason for introducing the WAIRE program is to ensure that warehouses based in some of California’s most prominent counties were regulated by specific rules to minimize harmful emissions. As mentioned earlier, warehouses with indoor spaces around 100,000 square feet or higher within a building must comply with WAIRE’s compliance and reporting standards.

Since this program is still relatively new, many individuals who operate or own warehouses find it difficult to follow WAIRE’s guidelines. One of the main reasons behind it is that the program requires them to use vehicles that utilize clean energy.

WAIRE’s requirements clearly state that warehouse operators and owners must avoid using trucks or refrigeration units that emit elements harmful to the environment. Instead, they should replace them with environmentally friendly trucks and units to protect the environment. While adjusting according to the program’s requirements may be challenging for some warehouse owners, the program encourages adoption by providing warehouse facilities with certain incentives.

These incentives give operators and owners the opportunity to gather points, which could help them adopt environmentally friendly transportation options. Furthermore, one can also earn points for every trip they make with an emission-friendly vehicle. The South Coast AQMD knows that most people who own warehouses need to spend a fortune to ensure their operations are environmentally friendly, which is why WAIRE’s governing body gives the option to purchase WAIRE points by paying a mitigation fee.

Sadly, the air quality in the South Coast is quite poor and the emission of harmful gases is one of the reasons behind them. This is why the SCAQMD introduced WAIRE, as complying by its rules and regulation could significantly reduce harmful emissions in California, improving its environment.

How Can Warehouse Owners Get WAIRE Points

Aerial view of solar panel array on a California warehouse.

The South Coast AQMD developed an in-depth menu for rule 2305. One could only earn WAIRE points from the menu through surplus actions. For those wondering, these actions go far beyond the current state and federal regulations applicable currently. You will find thirty two actions listed on WAIRE program’s menu. However, you can categorize them under 9 primary umbrella actions.

While there could be updates and changes made to the proposed rule in the coming years, the current options that facilities can use to earn WAIRE points are as follows:

  • Paying a mitigation fee
  • Use zero-emission or near-zero emission trucks
  • NZE and ZE truck visits using non-owned fleet
  • Using electric vehicles
  • Usage of zero-emission yard trucks
  • Acquiring high-efficiency filter systems with replacement filters
  • Getting electric vehicle chargers
  • Using solar panels to power warehouses
  • Installing a hydrogen filling station

These are some of the main things warehouse operators and owners need to consider when trying to earn WAIRE POINTS. If you want a more in-depth breakdown of the points menu that details point allocations for every action, consider reviewing the Technical Report the South Coast AQMD provided.

What California Warehouse Facilities Need to Know about WAIRE Points

If you are a California-based warehouse owner or operator, you must understand how the WAIRE points structure works. This program has a menu-based structure that requires you to gain a specific number of points annually. Here are three of the most popular ways to earn WAIRE points:

  • Go through the list of actions mentioned in WAIRE’s menu, choose one and complete it
  • Find an approved and site-specific plan and complete its various tasks
  • Pay EMF, also known as emissions mitigation fee

As mentioned earlier, WAIRE has an extensive menu that discusses the various activities warehouse operators can gain points from. Those who want to provide the emissions mitigation fee must remember that the funds related to it are redistributed for essential technologies like charging and fueling stations, zero-emission vehicles, or near-zero-emission vehicles in different South Coast-based communities.

If you earn a higher percentage of points than the amount required by WAIRE, you can transfer them to other warehouses as long as you operate them. Otherwise, you can save them for the following year. However, WAIRE doesn’t allow you to sell the extra points.

Regarding report submission, warehouse operators and owners following PR 2305 must provide the South Coast AQMD with their reports detailing warehouse operations and compliance. Rule 2305 requires warehouse owners to maintain records demonstrating compliance for the last seven years. It’s also essential to ensure that you can provide the records readily whenever required by the South Coast AQMD.

Coldwell Solar Can Help California Warehouses Comply with WAIRE

Closeup view of solar panels on California warehouse roofs.

While the introduction of WAIRE has been a step in the right direction to improve Southern California’s environment, adopting it has been quite challenging for many warehouse facilities. Implementing environmentally-friendly solar energy solutions takes time and often requires knowledge and experience, something that the team at Coldwell Solar has in abundance.

If you have a warehouse in California, get in touch with us, and our seasoned experts will evaluate your premises to suggest the most effective solutions for your operations. We can help you comply with rule 2305 through different well-thought-out strategies. For instance, we can strategically install solar panels if your warehouse is guilty of excessive greenhouse emissions. These panels can create eco-friendly electricity while ensuring you don’t have to worry about nitrogen emissions violating the WAIRE program guidelines.

Properly installed commercial  solar panels can minimize greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring you play an active part in improving your area’s environment. Thousands of facilities are substituting traditional energy sources with socially responsible solar panels, and we suggest you switch to this alternative too.

Coldwell Solar can also ensure that your electricity costs are kept to a minimum by installing a commercial solar system at your warehouse. Our experts are familiar with the WAIRE program’s requirements, so once you communicate your requirements with us, we will create a strategic plan to ensure you can earn WAIRE points and even save them for next year.



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