Buildings and Facilities

Employees at PG&E’s Smart Grid Test Center in San Ramon.

With an ongoing focus on reducing energy, water and waste, PG&E continues to drive environmental improvements at its offices and service yards. By doing so, we are reducing the environmental footprint of our facilities, while providing an enhanced workplace for our employees.

In 2011, PG&E made continued progress toward achieving its five-year targets for reducing energy, water and waste in office facilities and service yards. A growing network of employee volunteers has been critical to our progress—engaging and training fellow employees to reduce their environmental footprint at work.

Energy, Water and Waste Reduction

To meet our five-year targets, we are executing a multi-faceted strategy to invest in key facility improvements, engage employees and incorporate sustainability principles into all aspects of the management of our real estate.

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1 The energy reduction goal is measured in million BTUs (MMBTUs) and included 156 sites in 2010 and 168 sites in 2011 and 2012. We continue to look for opportunities to expand to additional sites.

2 The water reduction goal is measured in gallons and included 91 sites in 2010, 125 sites in 2011 and 135 sites in 2012. We continue to look for opportunities to expand to additional sites.

3 The waste diversion rate measures the diversion rate in the final quarter of each year. It included administrative waste for 48 office facilities and service yard sites in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, we expanded the scope to include all non-hazardous municipal waste; we will expand the scope further in 2013 and 2014. Additionally, the 2010 figure was updated to reflect the waste diversion rate at 48 sites; the figure in last year’s report only reflected six sites.

Our efforts include improving the operational efficiency of our existing buildings; ensuring that equipment replacements, major remodels and new facilities include high efficiency standards; and identifying additional projects that would result in significant efficiency improvements. We also continue to engage our broader workforce, including partnering with a Grassroots Green Network that brings together employee volunteers to support energy, water and waste reduction awareness and initiatives.

Given PG&E’s increased focus on safety and operational issues, however, we have reallocated resources within the business. As a result, we have reduced the level of investment planned for improving the energy efficiency of our facilities. Reflecting this change, we revised our five-year energy efficiency goal from a 25 to 15 percent reduction (compared with the 2009 baseline).

Additionally, we have expanded the scope of our waste reduction activities to encompass a wider range of materials at our office buildings and service yards. We therefore increased our five-year waste diversion goal from 70 to 80 percent.

  • At our San Ramon Valley Conference Center, we replaced the lights in the parking lot and exterior hallways with LED lighting fixtures with motion sensors and timing controls.

    We reduced energy use by 4.8 percent—or about 383,150 MMBTUs—at 168 offices and service yards, exceeding our 4.2 percent target. We achieved this by specifying energy efficient designs when replacing mechanical systems that were past their useful life and installing advanced building automation systems. We replaced some of the lighting in our parking areas and service yards with new LED fixtures with motion sensor and timing controls. We also incorporated energy efficiency into our major remodel projects, which will result in less energy use. In 2012, our goal is to achieve an additional 3 percent reduction at 168 sites.

In 2012, we planted native drought resistant landscaping and installed a low volume drip irrigation system at our Sacramento Service Center.

A Friendly Competition to Reduce Waste

Through a floor-against-floor competition, employees in our corporate headquarters rallied around waste reduction last year. The two-month competition—which spanned our headquarters buildings in San Francisco and included approximately 4,500 employees—helped build awareness of proper recycling, composting and waste diversion. It also helped move PG&E closer to our goal of 80 percent waste diversion.

The competition was led by a group of employee volunteers known as Green Ambassadors, who also advised and encouraged employees along the way. The group plans to make the contest an annual event—and to expand the idea to other sites around PG&E.

  • We reduced water use by 6.0 percent—or 7.8 million gallons—at 125 offices and service yards, exceeding our 5.7 percent target. To achieve these reductions, we reduced landscape water use through enhanced maintenance and by installing “smart” irrigation controllers at seven additional sites to govern the use of sprinkler systems. We also replaced landscaping at our Sacramento and Redding service centers with a design that includes native drought resistant plants and materials that require no irrigation. In our headquarter complex, we installed automatic faucets and low flow valves on plumbing fixtures. In 2012, our goal is to achieve an additional 2 percent reduction at an expanded set of 135 sites.
  • We achieved a nearly 60 percent waste diversion rate, exceeding our 55 percent target. We took a number of steps to achieve this result, including ensuring bins were the right size, upgrading service, engaging employees and adding composting in 15 locations. Our metric in 2011 included the administrative waste produced within the buildings at 48 sites. In 2012, we are expanding the scope to also 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 is to achieve a 73 percent waste diversion rate for all non-hazardous municipal waste at 48 sites.

Energy Consumption Statistics

These figures represent electricity and natural gas usage at 168 facilities managed by our Corporate Real Estate department.

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1 The data reflects the 12 month period from December to November and is normalized for weather. Additionally, the 2009 and 2010 data were updated from the previous report, which only reflected energy use at 156 sites.

2 Figures are reported in the industry standard of BTU per square foot, which incorporates all of the energy used in a facility into one comparative number.

Water Use Statistics

In 2011, we made continued progress toward developing our “water footprint.”

Please see the Water Conservation and Management section for statistics on PG&E’s water usage.

Waste Generation Statistics

PG&E strives to minimize use of and recycle non-hazardous waste, such as glass, paper and certain metals. These figures represent the total waste diverted from the landfill at 48 sites managed by our Corporate Real Estate department.

Waste Diversion at Corporate Real Estate Facilities1
Total Waste Generated (tons) 6,702
Total Waste Diverted (tons) 3,521
Waste Diversion Rate 60%

1 The tonnage data reflects the administrative waste at 48 sites for the 12 months from October 2010 to September 2011. The diversion rate reflects the final quarter as measured one quarter in arrears (July to September 2011).

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

  • 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, including pipe and hard hats.
  • We recycled or reused nearly 160 tons of e-waste, including consumer electronic devices, CPUs, monitors, servers, printers, and other equipment.
  • Nearly 110,000 pounds of steel, copper and lead was recycled in 2011 from PG&E’s Humboldt Bay Power Plant and Diablo Canyon Power Plant.

Recycling Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs

While compact fluorescent lightbulbs, or CFLs, can save considerable energy and money compared to incandescent bulbs, they also contain small amounts of mercury, which can be released into the environment if the bulbs are disposed in the trash. That’s why used CFLs must be managed through special recycling programs.

In 2011, PG&E’s internal Grassroots Green Network began hosting monthly CFL recycling drives for employees at our corporate headquarters, raising awareness about the proper management of CFLs and ensuring that they are disposed of properly.

PG&E also launched a Fluorescent Lamp Recycling Outreach and Marketing Program in six counties in 2011. The program established retail partnerships for fluorescent bulb drop-off and collection in Humboldt, Sonoma, Napa, Alameda, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. By the end of 2011, the program had collected nearly 60,000 fluorescent bulbs from residents.

PG&E also collaborated with Alameda County to develop marketing materials encouraging fluorescent bulb recycling. These free customizable marketing and outreach templates are available to all local governments.

In the normal course of business, utility operations generate certain hazardous wastes. Waste is also created during the remediation and cleanup of historic legacy sites.

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, which are more stringent and encompass a broader scope of waste streams. For example, wastes such as used oil are subject to California’s hazardous waste requirements but are not regulated as hazardous waste under federal law.

PG&E manages all hazardous waste in accordance with federal and state regulations. Our comprehensive approach includes providing guidance and training to employees to ensure that waste is properly managed from the point of generation to its ultimate disposal or recycling.

Additionally, while PG&E works to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated, certain projects such as upgrades to our infrastructure or remediation of historical contamination may increase the amount of hazardous waste generated in a given year. In 2011, the generation of federal- and state-regulated hazardous wastes increased due to an increase in remediation activity, primarily at PG&E’s former Hunters Point Power Plant site.

The following table provides statistics on PG&E’s waste generation.

Hazardous and Other Waste
2009 2010 2011
Total Hazardous Waste (tons) 23,412 33,449 114,999
RCRA1Hazardous Waste 276 1,360 4,286
TSCA2 Hazardous Waste 623 1,863 1,041
California Regulated Hazardous Waste 22,513 30,226 109,672
Total Hazardous Waste (tons) 23,412 33,449 114,999
Disposed 22,446 32,309 110,022
Recycled 966 1,140 4,977
TSCA Hazardous Waste 34 77 432
California Regulated Hazardous Waste 932 1,063 4,545
% Recycled 4.1% 3.4% 4.3%
Federal Regulated Hazardous Waste (RCRA) (tons)
Total 276 1,360 4,286
Federal Regulated Hazardous Waste (TSCA)—PCB Waste ≥50 ppm PCB (tons)
Total 623 1,863 1,041
Incineration 239 306 230
Landfill 350 1,479 379
Recycled 34 77 432
% Recycled 5.5% 4.2% 41.5%
California Regulated Hazardous Waste (Non-RCRA)3
Total 22,513 30,226 109,672
Disposed 21,581 29,163 105,127
Recycled 932 1,063 4,545
% Recycled 4.1% 3.5% 4.1%
Universal Waste (tons)
Total 149 164 159
Recycled 149 164 159
% Recycled 100% 100% 100%
Low-Level Radioactive Waste
Diablo Canyon Power Plant
Disposed (cubic feet) 793 367 660
Humboldt Bay Power Plant
Disposed (cubic feet) 8,905 52,009 130,602
Radioactively Cleared Waste
Diablo Canyon Power Plant
Disposed (pounds) N/A N/A 113,767
Humboldt Bay Power Plant
Disposed (pounds) N/A N/A N/A
Recycled Materials from Power Plants
Diablo Canyon Power Plant
Steel Recycled (pounds) 138,014 115,845 30,300
Copper Recycled (pounds) 61,773 9,300 6,250
Lead Recycled (pounds) N/A N/A 15,500
Humboldt Bay Power Plant
Steel Recycled (pounds) 453,026 743,564 54,856
Copper Recycled (pounds) 110,229 1,475 N/A
Lead Recycled (pounds) N/A N/A N/A

1 Refers to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

2 Refers to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

3 These figures include PCB Waste <50 ppm PCB.

Investing in Green Buildings

In 2011, we increased the number of projects involved in LEED™ certification to 13 as part of our ongoing efforts to certify new buildings and large remodel projects. As shown below, this includes a range of facilities throughout our service area.

Facility Name Location Scope LEED™ level Status
245 Market Street San Francisco Existing building LEED-EB Gold Received April 2007
Stockton Customer Service Office Stockton Major remodel—leased building LEED-CI Silver Received March 2010
Gateway Generating Station—Administration Building Antioch New building LEED-NC Certified Received March 2010
San Ramon Office Building San Ramon Major remodel—leased building LEED-CI Certified Received March 2010
Grid Control Center Vacaville New building LEED-NC Silver Received April 2010
77 Beale, 25th Floor San Francisco Major remodel LEED-CI Gold Received June 2011
Santa Rosa Service Center—Front Building Santa Rosa Major remodel LEED-NC Certified Received September 2011
Bakersfield Service Center Operations Building Bakersfield Major remodel LEED-NC Certified Received January 2012
Stockton Service Center Operations Building 2 Stockton Major remodel LEED-NC Silver Received January 2012
Stockton Service Center Operations Building 1 Stockton Major remodel LEED-NC Silver Received April 2012
Santa Rosa Service Center—Back Building Santa Rosa Major remodel LEED-NC Certified Received May 2012
Colusa Generating Station—Administration Building Colusa New building LEED-Certified (forecasted) Expected in 2012
San Francisco Service Center Garage San Francisco Major remodel LEED-NC Gold (forecasted) Expected in 2012

Photo of remodeled Stockton Service center. PG&E received LEED-NC certification for major remodels at three service centers—Stockton, Bakersfield and Santa Rosa—involving five operations buildings.

All of the projects included:

  • Recycling 60 to 75 percent of the construction waste.
  • Using low-flow and waterless plumbing fixtures to reduce potable water use by up to 40 percent.
  • Reducing water use through low or no irrigation for landscaping.
  • Deploying energy efficient lighting and mechanical systems and controls.
  • Offering alternative fueling stations and preferred parking for alternative fuel vehicles.

In 2011, PG&E continued to purchase Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Gold- or Silver-level laptops, desktop computers and monitors—products that have demonstrated reduced environmental impacts. At the end of 2011, more than 98 percent of our standard personal computer items were Gold or Silver EPEAT-compliant.