Buildings and Operations

PG&E is committed to reducing waste and using resources in the most efficient way, from improving the energy efficiency of our buildings and other facilities to recycling materials and reducing water consumption. For PG&E, environmental leadership also means being accountable by taking responsibility for our historic environmental impacts.

Greening Our Own Buildings

We continue to pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) certification for new buildings and large remodel projects, with a total of eleven LEED™ certified buildings and additional sites in the certification process.

This includes receiving LEED-NC (new construction) Silver certification for our 22,000 square-foot Grid Control Center. Highlights of the project included restoring nearly half of the five-acre site to native vegetation, recycling 70 percent of the construction waste, using drip irrigation and low-flow plumbing fixtures to reduce potable water use by 45 percent and incorporating sustainably forested wood and low-emitting carpets, paints, adhesives and sealants.

Grid Control Center

At PG&E's Grid Control Center, nearly half of the five-acre site was restored to native vegetation after construction was completed.

In 2011, PG&E made significant progress reducing energy and water use in our facilities. We reduced energy use in offices and service yards by 4.8 percent—or about 383,150 MMBTUs—meeting our target for the year. To save energy, we specified energy efficient designs when replacing mechanical systems and installed advanced building automation systems. We also incorporated energy efficiency into our major remodel projects, which will result in less energy use. In 2012, our goal was to achieve an additional 3 percent reduction at 168 sites.

We reduced water use by 6.0 percent—or 7.8 million gallons—at 125 offices and service yards, exceeding our 4 percent target. To achieve these reductions, we reduced landscape water use through enhanced maintenance, added drought resistant plants and installed “smart” irrigation controllers. In our headquarter complex, we installed automatic faucets and low flow valves on plumbing fixtures. In 2012, our goal was to achieve an additional 2 percent reduction at an expanded set of 135 sites.

Helping Our Suppliers Go Green

PG&E understands the importance of creating partnerships and collaborating with our suppliers to integrate sustainability more fully into our supply chain. PG&E rolled out new supplier environmental performance standards last year and now expects all top tier suppliers to implement an environmental management system to track certain impacts, set voluntary reduction goals and publicly report their annual performance against goals. PG&E is also working to make a positive impact across our industry, co-founding the Electric Utility Industry Sustainable Supply Chain Alliance with other utilities.

To better understand the environmental life cycle impacts of the products and services we purchase, PG&E also collaborated on a multi-year project with researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Climate Earth, a carbon accounting consultancy in San Francisco.

The project was designed to yield greater visibility into the greenhouse gas emissions of our supply chain and help identify promising opportunities for emission reductions.

Minimizing Waste

We achieved a nearly 60 percent waste diversion rate in 2011, exceeding our target. In 2012, we expanded the scope to include all non-hazardous municipal waste generated outside the buildings including pallets, copper and other waste related to operations in the service yards. Our 2012 goal was to achieve a 73 percent waste diversion rate for all non-hazardous municipal waste at 48 sites.

Other examples of waste reduction efforts in 2011 include the following:

  • We recycled or reused nearly 160 tons of e-waste.
  • We recycled more than 23 million pounds of scrap iron, aluminum and copper from conductors, meters and miscellaneous material. We also recycled more than 7 million pounds of recovered meters, 12 million pounds of transformers and 115,000 pounds of plastic.
  • Nearly 110,000 pounds of steel, copper and lead was recycled from PG&E's Humboldt Bay Power Plant and Diablo Canyon Power Plant.
Grassroots Green Network

Through a series of "waste minimization contests," a growing number of employees are helping PG&E reduce waste one bin at a time. As part of PG&E's Grassroots Green Network, a group of "green ambassadors" is championing the contests for their respective offices.

Taking Responsibility

As part of PG&E’s environmental commitment, we have had a robust program of environmental remediation for more than 20 years with the goal of cleaning up contamination associated with historic PG&E operations and the operations of predecessor companies. Learn more about how we are taking responsibility.

Water Management Practices

At PG&E, we are working to use water in a more sustainable manner in our facilities and operations. Taking a sustainable approach allows us to ensure we meet our future business needs, while also addressing near-term opportunities for efficiency and cost savings.

By encouraging energy efficiency, PG&E also enables our customers to reduce their water use. As a demonstration of potential water savings from our energy efficiency programs, PG&E analyzed six of the more common water-saving technologies incentivized as part of our 2011 energy efficiency portfolio and found that they equated to approximately 850 million gallons of water savings per year, which is equivalent to the annual water consumption of approximately 5,000 California households.

PG&E also offers classes and workshops open to the public at our Pacific Energy Center that cover water conservation and energy efficiency. And we co-host an annual Water Conservation Showcase in San Francisco, where exhibitors display new technology for saving water in buildings and landscaping.

PG&E Truck on portable bridge

As one of the first utilities to implement "portable" bridges for our timber management program, PG&E is reducing the amount of sediment going into the watercourses and protecting water quality and fisheries habitat. These portable bridges allow trucks and equipment to cross rivers and streams without using culverts or earthen fill.

Sustainable Forestry and Fire Prevention

Creating healthy forests through sustainable practices on PG&E’s forest lands has long been a priority. Healthy forests minimize fire danger and, as a result, better protect the public, important infrastructure and habitat needed by plants and animals to survive and flourish.

Key elements of our sustainable forestry efforts include maintaining lands to help prevent the spread of wildfires, engaging nearby communities in wildfire prevention programs and using seeds collected from our seed orchard for restoration of healthy, diverse and productive forests.

For example, in 2011, PG&E restored approximately 80 acres of aspen stands in eastern Shasta County, the largest area of aspen stands that we have focused on to date. Aspen trees help indicate the health of a watershed and provide important habitat for many diverse wildlife and plant species; they also serve as natural “fuel breaks” from wildfires.