Resource Conservation, Recycling & Waste Management
We strive to minimize the amount of waste we create in our facilities and operations, and to handle and dispose of it responsibly in compliance with all applicable regulations. We also actively seek opportunities to recycle and reuse waste materials.
Data Collection and Measurement
Goals and measurement processes are in place to help us understand and manage our waste footprint and energy use at company facilities. Improved data collection methodologies, especially in regard to our internal energy usage, will help us track and report our annual progress. The company’s recycling and reuse activities and results have been reported annually since 1994 through the U.S. EPA’s WasteWise program.
We recently completed an evaluation of company electricity consumption from 2008 to 2011. These findings provide us with a baseline against which to measure future performance. We began reporting this data to the Carbon Disclosure Project in 2010, and comprehensive 2011 data is available for the first time in this report. (See 5-Year Summary Performance Table.)
For many years, employee volunteer teams have participated in projects to clean up public highways and parks and recycle plastics and aluminum cans. Through school mentoring programs, our volunteers also teach young people the importance of resource conservation.
Employee-initiated projects also have created opportunities to collect and recycle oils, solvents and other liquid substances used in our operations.
In 2011, two of our West Virginia employees saw a simple way to help conserve energy: turn off the lights in unoccupied conference rooms and other public areas. They had stickers made to remind their co-workers and then shared their idea with the company’s Employee Sustainability Team. “Turn Off the Lights” stickers have now been distributed companywide, and requests for more continue to be received by the team.
Managing Our Energy Footprint
We have implemented a number of initiatives at various company locations to reduce our energy footprint. Some examples include:
- Preventive maintenance programs to keep equipment in peak condition and delay replacements;
- Energy Management Systems to control lighting and HVAC systems after hours and reduce overall energy use;
- Installation of solar window film and reflective roofs to decrease heat infiltration and increase the efficiency of air conditioning operations;
- Adoption of LEED-certified “green” building standards at three locations;
- Installation of light sensor-activated switches and timers in selected rooms and public spaces;
- Replacement of incandescent lighting in buildings, garages and warehouses with high-efficiency Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lights and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs);
- Partnering with green vendors to recycle thousands of used company computers, monitors and printers to keep them out of public landfills; and
- Implementing “single stream” recycling of co-mingled glass, papers and plastics.
In 2012, we will conduct a comprehensive energy audit of our headquarters complex in Richmond, Va.
In 2011, our Investment Recovery group was able to recycle close to 30 million pounds of scrap metal from electric transformers, wire and cable, circuit breakers, motors, pumps, valves and other surplus equipment. These efforts to recycle and reuse materials returned approximately $10 million to the various business areas that submitted them.
Likewise, at our gas transmission business, the recycling of surplus steel pipes, valves, flanges and other materials generated almost $1.2 million in cash and more than $4.1 million in additional savings resulting from the reuse of idle surplus assets.
Coal Combustion Byproducts (CCBs)
Coal ash is one of several CCBs created when coal is burned to generate electricity. It has the consistency of fine powder and is captured by air pollution control equipment at the power station.
CCBs are typically stored in ash ponds on site, in dry landfills or recycled for reuse in a variety of commercial applications, such as feedstock in cement and concrete manufacturing, additives for plastics manufacturing, and specialty paint ingredients.
Dominion’s ash ponds and landfills comply with all local, state and federal environmental regulations. Professional engineers and other specialists monitor the structural integrity of our ash impoundments on a regular basis.
In 2011, Dominion’s fossil fleet produced about 2.1 million tons of CCBs. In keeping with industry norms, about half of Dominion’s CCBs are typically disposed on site. Approximately 1 million tons of coal ash were used in 2011 to replace higher value or “beneficially reused” materials offsite.
The EPA proposed a rule in 2010 that would create a federal regulatory program for coal ash residuals. A final rule is expected in 2013.