2008 Corporate Responsibility Report

How we are creating a smarter foundation for a sustainable future

Our Buildings and Facilities

There are many drivers for making buildings “green,” from the growing need to address global warming and water scarcity to the employee benefits of working in a high-quality office environment. Recognizing this opportunity, PG&E continues to apply sustainability practices at its offices throughout northern and central California, implementing energy efficiency, water conservation, recycling and green cleaning plans to help reduce the company’s environmental footprint. PG&E also continues to collaborate with its suppliers to integrate sustainability more fully into the company's supply chain.

There were numerous highlights in 2008:

  • We conducted a major lighting retrofit to reduce energy use at 32 different sites, which we expect will save 2.8 million kWh per year. We also completed numerous facility-specific improvements to save energy, including installing electronic thermostats and lighting controls at 60 sites. Because of the late-year timing of the facility upgrades, we did not meet our 2 percent energy reduction target for the year. However, looking ahead, we set a more aggressive target to reduce energy usage by 5 percent in 2009.
  • We completed a targeted water conservation effort at seven high-use facilities, working in partnership with local water agencies. We exceeded our target by achieving a 5.5 percent reduction in gallons per square foot over the prior year, saving approximately 1.7 million gallons. In 2009, we are expanding the program with a 5 percent reduction target across more than 70 offices and service yards.
  • We registered four new buildings and large remodel projects for LEED™ certification, including a newly leased, 135,000-square-foot office building in San Ramon. Among other features, the retrofitted building now uses 33 percent less energy and 10 percent less water, and achieves improved air quality through the use of furnishings, materials and cleaning measures that do not emit harmful gases.
  • We continued to make all of our buildings carbon neutral through enrollment in PG&E’s ClimateSmart™ program. PG&E was the program’s first participant by committing approximately $1.5 million of shareholder funding over three years to offset the energy use in the company’s offices, service centers, maintenance facilities and other company buildings.

IT Energy Savings

PG&E is implementing innovative measures to improve energy efficiency in our IT services function through new technologies and power-saving techniques. In 2008, our data center operations reduced energy consumption by 120 kW.

PG&E achieved these results through a variety of steps, including server virtualization, which consolidates IT workloads and uses less equipment and energy. We also shut down unused equipment and replaced inefficient power supply systems, installed variable speed drives and implemented new tape storage systems that require dramatically less power and cooling. We will continue our efforts in 2009 by replacing additional systems and continuing to virtualize our servers.

PG&E is also taking steps to purchase only Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Gold- or Silver-level laptops, desktop computers and monitors—products that have demonstrated reduced environmental impacts. PG&E’s goal is to be 90 percent Gold or Silver EPEAT-compliant for these items by the end of 2009.

Waste Minimization

We continued recycling material from the demolition of PG&E’s Hunters Point Power Plant in San Francisco. In 2008, approximately 99.6 percent of the materials removed from the plant were recycled—9,831 tons of metals, 23,092 tons of concrete, 138 tons of gunite material from the stacks and 232 tons of debris.

In the normal course of business, our operations generate certain hazardous wastes. Waste is also created during the remediation and cleanup of historic legacy sites. All such material is managed in accordance with federal and state regulations.

Federal hazardous waste management statutes include the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act. California has its own set of hazardous waste management laws and regulations that are more stringent and encompass a broader scope of waste streams.

PG&E also strives to minimize and recycle non-hazardous waste, such as glass, paper, and certain metals.

Examples of waste reduction efforts in 2008 include the following:

  • We recycled or reused our “e-waste,” including approximately 4,530 CPUs, 4,250 monitors, 380 servers, 160 printers and 450 copiers, fax machines and scanners.
  • We recycled or reused more than 35 million pounds of scrap iron, aluminum and copper from conductors, meters and miscellaneous infrastructure from our waste stream. We also recycled more than 81,500 pounds of plastic piping, as well as used hard hats.
  • We avoided more than 330 tons of paper through 13 million paperless e-Bill transactions for customer energy bills.
  • We also earned recognition from the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s California Take-It-Back program for helping to raise public awareness about the need to recycle used compact fluorescent light bulbs and tube fluorescents. Because these lamps contain small amounts of mercury, they cannot be disposed of in the trash. We also initiated several new partnerships with local governments to increase public awareness and fund lamp recycling materials, such as drop-off containers. Designed in 2008, the partnerships will be fully implemented in 2009.

Photo: Lewis Stewart

We continued to achieve environmental benefits and cost savings by receiving a growing portion of our primary underground electrical cables on returnable steel reels versus one-time-use wooden reels. Since we began this effort in 1998, PG&E has received shipments of more than 11,500 reusable steel reels, avoiding the use of more than 7.5 million pounds of wood. PG&E has also saved more than $3.8 million in avoided purchasing and material handling costs, and the savings continue to grow.

Energy Consumed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company*
 
2006
2007
2008

Electricity Consumed (GWh)
84
991
106

Natural Gas Consumed (MMcf)
153
142
152

Energy Intensity (MBTU per square foot)2
66
72
72

* These figures represent electricity and natural gas usage at the 175 facilities managed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Corporate Real Estate department.

1 Updated figure from 2007 Corporate Responsibility Report.

2 Figures reported in the industry standard of BTU per square foot, which incorporates all of the energy used in a facility into one comparative number that takes into account efficiency variations in the utilization of the energy.