NW Natural Operations
With one of the nation’s most modern, tightest pipeline distribution systems, and many efficiency measures already in place, our company operations make up about 0.1% of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon. 1 Source: Comparisons based on NW Natural 2015 reporting to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through Subpart W As good as that is, we believe our responsibility is to continue making improvements alongside our customers, producers and partners.
Our Distribution System
In the natural gas industry, older pipes are a potential source of methane emissions. Through our commitment to safety and system integrity, and with the support of regulators and customer groups, NW Natural was one of the nation’s first utilities to remove or replace all of the known cast iron and bare steel pipes in our system with modern, corrosion-resistant piping.
NW Natural has also adopted industry best practices as recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce emissions from routine system maintenance. In 2016, NW Natural signed on as a founding member of the EPA’s Natural Gas Star Methane Challenge. Under the challenge, NW Natural will continue to adopt emission-reducing best practices associated with pipeline construction, maintenance and repair.
NW Natural and other industry partners are working with the Environmental Defense Fund to better understand the sources of and solutions to methane emissions across the entire supply chain.
Through a series of 16 independent studies, we’re learning more about how and where methane is escaping into the atmosphere. This data will enable us to deploy cost-effective solutions to further reduce climate impacts.
A 2013 study led by Washington State University and EDF found emissions from local distribution systems had decreased significantly over the past 20 years, thanks in large part to pipeline modernization efforts. In fact, NW Natural’s system emissions were 90% lower than EPA estimates at the time. Learn more: methane.wsu.edu.
Today, we have over 100 natural gas and bi-fuel vehicles in our fleet, as well as five CNG fueling stations. CNG vehicles lower carbon emissions, reduce air pollution and provide operating cost savings. We’ve also taken steps to limit emissions and air pollution by training drivers to reduce truck idling. And we’re looking into cleaner options such as renewable fuels for some of our current vehicles. As we continue with our Fleet of the Future initiative, we’re steering toward a lighter impact while maintaining a high standard of service and reliability of our field and service crews.
We’re continually looking at ways to reduce the impact of our operations, from waste reduction initiatives to on-site composting and recycling. In 2016, the city of Portland awarded NW Natural its Sustainability at Work Gold Certification, recognizing our recycling, commuter benefits, bike parking, printing practices and other sustainability efforts.
Our Portland headquarters was certified LEED Gold, and we’re updating our regional service centers to higher building performance standards, with energy efficiency upgrades that meet the Oregon Energy Efficiency Specialty Code.