Low-carbon renewable fuel made from waste is now another option for green building design
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) today applauded the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for including use of renewable natural gas (RNG) in the latest beta version of its LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating system. RNG is a low-carbon fuel produced from waste that can be used just like traditional natural gas. With the new system, a project may utilize RNG to earn LEED points by capturing and using biogas on site, sourcing biogas from a third party, or by purchasing biogas to store in the project's own storage system. The RNG can be used for heating, hot water and cooking in commercial buildings, and for stoves, clothes dryers, water heaters, fireplaces and heating in homes. The number of LEED points determines the level of LEED certification the project can achieve.
"Renewable natural gas is the only renewable energy source that can be carbon negative and can be used in all the same ways as traditional natural gas. RNG essentially recycles waste, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions produced by that waste, and putting it to good use," said Jawaad Malik, vice president, strategy and sustainability, and chief environmental officer for SoCalGas. "RNG is a highly efficient way to decarbonize buildings and allows home and commercial building owners to use a green fuel while still using gas appliances, which is often the preferred solution. SoCalGas' investment in both RNG and hydrogen will play a key role in helping California meet its environmental goals."
LEED, a certification program created by USGBC, provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings and is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership. Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points for various green building strategies across several categories and based on the number of points achieved, a project earns one of four LEED rating levels.
"Renewable natural gas is a viable path whereby buildings can achieve meaningful environmental and sustainability goals," said Johannes Escudero, chief executive officer for RNG Coalition. "The manifold benefits of RNG are proven and deserve to be recognized as part of the U.S. Green Building Council's framework for healthy, highly-efficient and cost-saving, green buildings. We look forward to seeing increased use of RNG in buildings nationwide."
"We are very pleased that the U.S. Green Building Council has recognized renewable natural gas in its latest LEED green building standards," said Julia Levin, executive director of the Bioenergy Association of California. "RNG can provide the lowest carbon fuel of any kind, it can replace diesel in backup generators, and it makes local communities more resilient since RNG is available even when the electricity grid is down."
SoCalGas is working to make RNG available to fuel the homes of the company's nearly 22 million customers across Central and Southern California, asking the CPUC to authorize SoCalGas customers the option to purchase RNG and use it as part of their natural gas service. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is expected to rule on whether to approve the service this month. In 2019, SoCalGas announced its vision to be the cleanest gas utility in North America and committed to delivering five percent renewable gas to homes and businesses by 2022 and 20% by 2030.
Investment in RNG is growing nationally. Oregon recently enacted legislation allowing its natural gas utilities to purchase RNG on behalf it its customers, with the goal of replacing 15% of traditional natural gas with RNG by 2030. Virginia-based Dominion Energy has committed to investing in enough RNG projects to make its gas infrastructure net-zero carbon by 2040. In 20 years, enough RNG could be available in the U.S. to replace about 90% of the nation's current residential natural gas consumption, according to a recent study by ICF. Currently, natural gas utilities in Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Maine and Michigan provide RNG to homeowners.
In California, where SoCalGas operates, agriculture and organic waste from farms, landfills, or wastewater treatment plants account for about 80% of methane emissions, and in 2016 the state passed a law requiring a 40% reduction of methane emissions from waste sources, with provisions to deliver that energy to customers. This year, California passed legislation that significantly expands the definition of renewable natural gas to include energy from additional forms of organic waste, such as dead trees, agricultural waste and vegetation removed for wildfire mitigation. The new law is expected to increase supplies of RNG and help turn the state's organic waste problem into an affordable, and renewable energy solution.
Production of RNG from dairies is already accelerating in California. In just the next three and a half years, at least 160 RNG production facilities will be online in California to serve the transportation fuel sector, producing more than 15.8 million therms of carbon-negative RNG every year and replacing about 119 million gallons of diesel fuel. That's enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 3.4 million tons every year, the equivalent of taking more than 730,000 cars off the road.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, clean and increasingly renewable gas service to 21.8 million customers across 24,000 square miles of Central and Southern California, where more than 90 percent of residents use natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking, drying clothes or other uses. Gas delivered through the company's pipelines also plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians— about 45 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.
SoCalGas' vision is to be the cleanest gas utility in North America, delivering affordable and increasingly renewable energy to its customers. In support of that vision, SoCalGas is committed to helping homes and businesses decarbonize their energy usage by delivering 5% renewable gas by 2022 and 20% by 2030. Renewable natural gas is made from waste created by dairy farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. SoCalGas is also committed to investing in its gas delivery infrastructure while keeping bills affordable for our customers. From 2015 through 2019, the company invested nearly $7 billion to upgrade and modernize its pipeline system to enhance safety and reliability. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), an energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit socalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook.
SOURCE Southern California Gas Company