Government vehicles and buses now can not have engines idling for more than one minute. (Christina Copp/CBC)

A new idling policy for Nova Scotia government vehicles came into effect Saturday.

The rules prohibit parked government-owned or leased vehicles from idling for longer than one minute. The policy also applies to privately-owned vehicles used for government business.

Vehicles are also not allowed to idle for any length of time within 30 metres of a ventilation system or workplace open window or entrance.

"Government and its employees are leading by example and reducing unnecessary vehicle idling," Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau stated in a release.

"Turning your ignition off reduces air pollution, saves fuel and money, and decreases wear and tear on engine parts."

There are exceptions for emergency situations or when vehicles need to idle in order to power equipment.

The new policy was written because of the Anti-Idling Act, which was introduced last December in an effort by the province to reduce mercury emissions by 2020.

According to the province, if 1,000 drivers avoid idling for three minutes a day, it would reduce fuel use by almost 25,000 litres a year, save them approximately $25,000 annually and reduce more than 59,000 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

School, transit and tour buses all must abide by the anti-idling law.