Idling Guidelines

The University of Waterloo participates in the Waterloo Region Partners for Clean Air program. The goal of the program is to improve outdoor air quality by reducing harmful emissions. Unnecessary vehicle idling impacts outdoor air quality, respiratory health, and increases operational costs. In some cases, idling can affect indoor air quality when near building air intakes. All employees must adhere to this guideline while operating University vehicles. 


  • Idling refers to the operation of the engine of a vehicle while the vehicle is not in motion and not being used to operate auxiliary equipment that is essential to the basic operation of the vehicle. Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than turning off the vehicle and restarting it again. If a vehicle is going to be stopped for 10 seconds or more, the engine should be turned off.
  • The University will designate “No Idling” zones through signage around buildings, loading areas, entrances, and air intake sources on campus. Idling control applies to these areas. Department line management should ensure that departmental employees operating vehicles are made aware of and follow the idling control guideline.


This guideline does not apply to the following:

  • When University of Waterloo Special Constable Service vehicles are engaged in active duty.
  • When mobile work vehicles (a vehicle containing equipment that must be operated inside or in association with the vehicle) are being used for their basic function, or where idling is required to prepare the vehicle for use.
  • During extremely cold weather or heat when idling may be necessary for the well being of the operator and passengers.
  • A vehicle may idle under the discretion of the operator in situations where shutting off the engine may compromise an operator’s safety.