Background: Publically Announced Sustainability Targets
In December of 2011 Washington Gas announced two aggressive Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets based on our 2008 Scope 1 and 2 baseline emissions. The first target was focused on the company’s operations of office facilities and vehicle fleets. The second target was focused on the fugitive emissions from gas supply equipment and pipelines. The supply goal was more narrowly focused with the boundary only around natural gas fugitive emissions, unintended leakage from the system, not venting or stationary combustion from gas supply equipment. This was done because fugitive emissions account for about two thirds of Washington Gas’ total emissions across all sources. Process emissions from stationary combustion, venting equipment (e.g., pneumatic devices) and blowdown events represent a much smaller portion of overall emissions and are necessary for the system to function properly and therefore were not included in the target boundary. The magnitude of fugitive emissions warranted focused attention in the first round of goal-setting.
- Goal 1. Operations Target - A 70% reduction in absolute GHGs from Washington Gas’ fleet and facility operations by 2020
- Goal 2. Gas Supply Target - A 12% reduction in GHG emissions for every therm of natural gas delivered in 2015, and an 18% reduction by 2020.
The gas supply target uses an intensity-based metric. Intensity-based targets allow for the realization of significant GHG performance improvement without inhibiting business expansion. The intensity-based target calls for reductions in the GHG emissions per each unit of delivered natural gas, thus requiring an increase in the system’s overall GHG efficiency.
Early Achievement 1: Absolute Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fleet and Facilities
- In 2014 Washington Gas achieved a 76% reduction in absolute GHG emissions compared to their 2008 baseline.
- This reduction exceeds the targeted 70% reduction and qualifies as early achievement.
- This goal was achieved by a combination of more efficient use of natural gas, including the use of an on-site Bloom natural gas fuel cell that produces electricity at a fraction of the emissions of conventional grid power, developing and moving the operations center in Springfield, VA to a new LEED Gold office and industrial complex, and the continued deployment of energy efficiency improvements at multiple satellite stations within the Washington Gas service territory.
- Additional GHG reductions were recognized from the continued deployment of natural gas vehicles that, on average, have a 25% smaller carbon footprint than similar gasoline powered vehicles.
Table 1. Progress Update on Operational Target of 70% Reduction from 2008 by 2020
Early Achievement 2: Fugitive Emission Intensity per Delivered Unit of Natural Gas
- In 2014 Washington Gas achieved a 20% reduction in the fugitive emission intensity of their gas supply system compared to the 2008 baseline.
- This reduction exceeds the targeted 18% reduction and qualifies as early achievement.
- This goal was achieved by a combination of a 7% reduction in absolute fugitive emissions coupled with a 17% increase in total gas delivered to customers.
- The 7% absolute reduction was driven by accelerated pipeline replacement programs and enhanced leak monitoring, detection and repairs.
- The 17% increase in gas deliveries represents the continued growth of the company.
Table 2. Progress Update on Gas Supply Goal of 18% Reduction from 2008 by 2020
Based on the inventories in 2008 and 2014 an estimate of total carbon reductions can be made by factoring in the details of when programs were initiated, such as the transition to the new Springfield Operations Center, etc. to calculate the cumulative reductions in metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Table 3. Annual Reductions from Goal Achievement and Cumulative Reductions
* EPA carbon equivalencies calculator: https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies- calculator