In 2012, Saudia Arabia acknowledged the need for a comprehensive framework for measuring and monitoring environmental challenges. As a result, the country has adopted a comprehensive list of standards and guidance, regulating an array of environmental challenges ranging from air pollution to wastewater management to transportation of chemicals.
The regulations include measures to ensure an efficient use of its natural resources, prevention of depletion and sustainable development. In fact, most of the regulations issued include components to promote sustainability.
Ambient Air Standard 2012 – This standard, which was published and made mandatory on March 24, 2012, relates specifically to the ambient air quality in Saudi Arabia. It prescribes limit values for ambient air quality parameters and establishes the responsibilities of the Presidency of Metrology and Environment (PME) with regard to managing ambient air quality in the kingdom. The standard provides a basis for the maintenance and restoration of ambient air quality in an effort to prevent or reduce harmful effects on human health and the environment. It introduces new limits for companies that are required to manage their emissions.
However, if the company performs one of the exempted activities, the limits stated by this standard would not apply. The standard exempts from limitations dispersion zones (which are authorized by the PME), indoor air and natural events. A different standard related to air quality that was adopted on the same day and made mandatory for all new equipment purchases relates to the control of emissions from mobile sources.
Standard on Emissions from Mobile Sources 2012 – The Standard on Mobile Sources Emissions requires companies to reduce their emissions to required levels and to properly maintain their equipment to ensure emissions reduction. The standard presents a framework for sustainable management of mobile sources. It sets out emission limit values depending upon the engine type and capacity. Companies are required to ensure that the emissions of their mobile sources are in compliance with the emission limits for all new equipment.
Companies have 5 years to bring existing equipment in line with the new emissions limits. The standard introduces emission limits for pieces of equipment used outdoors and with a goal of protecting, maintaining and improving the environment and public health. The emissions sources included in the standard are mobile generators, agricultural machinery and large earthmoving equipment. The emission limits include those for diesel engines, small and large gasoline engines and recreational vehicles not included in Saudi Arabia Standard Organization (SASO) standards.
General Environmental Standard for Noise 2012 – This standard, which introduced noise emission limits and was made mandatory March 24, 2012, regulates community noise, noise from industrial units in areas set aside primarily for industrial facilities, noise from construction activities, noise from vehicles (including motorized vessels and recreational craft) and noise from equipment used outdoors. The standard issued by the PME provides a basis for statutory control to restrict and reduce the nuisance caused by environmental noise. The standard does not address the issue of occupational noise, which is regulated by national health and safety laws. Furthermore, the standard does not extend to noise related to public transportation, including noise from highways and railways and noise from commercial and private aircraft, including helicopters (both in flight and operating on the ground). The standard also exempts some activities, including calls for prayer and sporting events.