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 have collected detailed data about company electricity consumption since 2008. We began reporting this data to the Carbon Disclosure Project in 2010, and comprehensive 2011, 2012 and 2013 data is available 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 2012, Dominion’s Executive Sustainability Council set a goal to conduct an energy audit at the company’s headquarters complex along the banks of the James River in Richmond, Va. The objective of the project was to develop in-house expertise in evaluating energy consumption at company facilities and to uncover opportunities for cost savings and efficiency upgrades.
The audit team consisted of eight employee volunteers, some of whom are members of the company’s Employee Sustainability Team. The volunteers received energy audit training from the Association of Energy Engineers. The scope of their two-day audit in December 2012 included the following areas:
- Analysis of existing energy and water usage and costs;
- Inventory of facility lighting;
- Review of all on-site IT equipment; and
- Inspections of HVAC sytems, motors, compressed air systems and building insulation.
The audit team identified potential energy management and cost savings opportunities at our headquarter complex that could reduce electricity usage by more than 726,000 kilowatt-hours a year – equal to about $56,000 in annual savings. The team’s recommendations were presented to the Executive Sustainability Council for further evaluation and action.
Managing Our Energy Footprint
We have implemented a number of initiatives at various company locations to reduce our energy footprint.
In 2012, for example, a group of Dominion employees were trained in the fundamentals of energy auditing to serve as the nucleus of an internal energy audit team. The team conducted its first energy audit of the company’s corporate headquarters campus in November 2012. The audit team identified a number of no-cost or low-cost improvements in the areas of lighting, equipment management and heating/cooling that should produce significant energy use reductions and savings. Other energy audits of company facilities are being planned.
Some other steps we have taken to manage our energy footprint 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, our Asset Investment Recovery group was able to recycle 26.6 million pounds of scrap metals from electric transformers, wire and cable, circuit breakers and other scrap equipment. This recycled scrap returned approximately $16 million to the various business units that submitted them.
At our natural gas transmission business, the recycling of more than 5.5 million pounds of surplus steel pipes, valves, flanges and other materials generated about $500,000 in cash.
Coal Combustion Byproducts (CCBs)
A variety of coal combustion byproducts (CCBs) are created when coal is burned to generate electricity The primary CCBs include fly ash, bottom ash and flue gas desulfurization sludge.
CCBs are typically stored in ash ponds on site, in dry landfills, or recycled for reuse in a variety of commercial applications. Beneficial reuse of CCBs occurs in such products as cement and concrete, dry wall, roofing shingles, plastics and specialty paints.
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.
The U.S. EPA proposed a rule in 2010 that would create a federal regulatory program for coal ash residuals. A final rule is expected in 2014.