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Things to know: Decarbonization and Ultra Low NOx in California

March 17, 2022

To protect community health and lower greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, some areas of California are regulating the nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions of commercial furnaces.

How Does NOx Affect You?
NOx emissions are byproducts of the gas furnace combustion processes which are relatively harmless on their own yet become harmful when they react with sunlight and other chemicals to create dangerous smog. Smog is a term for life-threatening air pollution and an airway irritant that has been shown to increase the risk for heart and lung diseases.1 2

What are the HVAC Ultra-Low NOx Regulations in California?

  • South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) imposed Rule 1111 which was designed to motivate companies to create and install furnaces that emit 65% lower NOx.
  • San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s Rule 4905 limits NOx emissions from natural gas-fired, fan-type central furnaces from 40 ng/j to 14 ng/j (with rated heat inputs less than 175,000 Btu/hr and for combination heating and cooling units rated at a cooling capacity less than 65,000 Btu/hr.).3

How do the low NOx and Ultra-low NOx Standards Affect Commercial Heating Systems?
Building owners and furnace installation partners, including contractors and manufacturers, are required to meet these commercial installation guidelines. Companies who choose to create and/or install a commercial furnace that does not meet local NOx emission requirements face hefty daily fines.  

Our Ultra-Low NOx Solution
Trane electric and dual-fuel heat pumps meet today’s Low NOx and Ultra-Low NOx regulations. Moreover, they offer premium energy efficiency, sustainability and affordability benefits.

Why a Heat Pump is the Right Fit for Your Ultra-Low NOx Building Needs:

  • Zero emissions: The new Low Nox and Ultra-Low NOx standards are meant to make gas furnaces more environmentally friendly by reducing the amount of harmful greenhouse gasses they emit. This is great, but you know what’s better than low NOx emissions? ZERO emissions! An all-electric heat pump isn’t reliant on or burning fossil fuels – making it a far more environmentally friendly heating choice than a gas or oil furnace. 
  • Versatility: A heat pump acts as an air conditioner and heating system in one self-contained unit. This versatility makes it a great solution for a variety of building types and sizes.
  • Ultra-efficient: Unlike a furnace, a heat pump doesn’t burn fuel to make heat. It simply uses electricity to move heat from one place to another – making it an energy-efficient solution. This can equate to lower emissions and operating costs. Under ideal conditions, a heat pump can transfer 300% more energy than it consumes.
    Additionally, heat pumps with heat recovery modules can capture naturally-generated heat as a byproduct – instead of rejecting it into the atmosphere. This waste heat can be repurposed for additional uses, such as domestic hot water in hospitals.
  • Affordable: Heat pumps generally have a lifetime of use as long as furnaces and air conditioner yet cost less upfront than the combined cost of a new gas furnace and standalone central air conditioner. Moreover, many rebate programs exist to help subsidize the transition to cleaner, carbon offsetting building heating and cooling solutions. Ask your local Trane partner for more information on the latest rebate opportunities in your area. 
  • A pathway toward net-zero: Replacing traditionally fossil-fueled commercial furnaces with low NOx or zero-emissions heating solutions greatly offsets a building’s carbon footprint. Installing heat pumps as a dual-purpose heating and cooling solution further reduces a building’s carbon emissions through improved energy efficiency and reduced energy waste. Choosing to install all-electric heat pumps is an even greater step toward carbon reduction as they offset emissions by eliminating fossil fuel from the heating and cooling process all together.
  • Reliable: Our heat pumps are SEER 16 rated and backed by our reputation as one of the world’s most trusted HVAC systems manufacturers for over 100 years.

Healthier Buildings & Healthier Communities
Ultra-Low NOx regulations are just one of the many steps Californian communities are taking toward a cleaner, healthier future for the Golden State.  More and more buildings across the State, and now the country, are moving toward carbon footprint-reducing electrification. Building electrification is simply the migration of a building’s reliance fossil-fuel driven systems to emissions-free, electric systems. Fully electric and hybrid heat pumps are just one of these Electrification solutions. Trane offers an array of heat pump, VRF systems, heat recovery systems, and renewable energy solutions to help meet your facility’s unique comfort, efficiency and decarbonization needs.  

Your Ultra Low NOx & Decarbonization Solutions 
Electrifying built environments is one of the most critical steps we can take toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout our communities. Through electric systems, renewable energy generation, and optimized building energy management, we can help maximize your buildings’ efficiency and savings.

Whether for light commercial buildings, large complex operations or multi-site organizations, Trane has the technology and expertise to help you. Contact your local Trane team to learn more about your Ultra-Low NOx options today. 



1. Environmental Defense Fund:
2. EPA – Smog – Who Does it Hurt?

About the Authors


Kenley Kyle & Chan Kim,

Kenley Kyle, System Sales Leader, Los Angeles, CA
Kenley has over 15 years of indoor environmental and HVAC systems expertise. Eight years of hands-on experience in engineering, product and systems management, commercialization, and strategic sales. As a tenured Trane sales engineer, Kenley leads the Southern California markets HVAC systems, products, and solutions sales teams. 

Chan Kim, System Sales Leader, Northern CA & Reno, NV
Chan has over 16 years of experience applying his deep engineering and applied building solutions expertise.  As an awarded strategic sales leader, Chan is an expert in Northern California’s unique environmental climate and building regulatory concerns and leads the region’s strategic systems sales team. He invests his time and focus on community, family, and customers and strives to help those around him be the best they can be.