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. It can also affect indoor air quality when idling occurs near building air intakes, which can have an impact on building occupants. 

This guideline establishes a protocol to be followed by all UW employees while operating University vehicles, and to educate the general campus community to reduce vehicle emissions through control of idling.


  1. 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.
  2. The University will designate through signage, “No Idling” zones 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:

  • UW Police vehicles while engaged in active duty.
  • Mobile work vehicles (a vehicle containing equipment that must be operated inside or in association with the vehicle) while they are in the course of being used for their basic function, or where idling is required to prepare for use.
  • During extreme cold weather or heat, where idling may be necessary for the well being of the operator and passengers.
  • In situations where shutting off the engine may compromise an operator’s safety, a vehicle may idle under the discretion of the operator.