SoCal Gas Talks Energy Efficiency & the Future of Natural Gas at Nation's Largest ZNE Conference
By Sofia Siegel
With just two months until Verdical Group’s Net Zero 2017 Conference, we’re highlighting the participation of The Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) in this year’s 4th annual event. The conference will gather 600+ attendees and 45+ exhibitors in Los Angeles on August 24, 2017 at the IBEW-NECA Net Zero Plus facility. Read our interview with SoCalGas below that highlights their work on energy efficiency and the future of natural gas as the primary provider of natural gas in the Southern California region.
Verdical Group (VG): How does SoCalGas decide on which events to support or align themselves with?
SoCalGas (SCG): SoCalGas supports conferences and events that align with our key strategic priorities. As a leader in providing clean energy solutions, SoCalGas® is dedicated to supporting energy efficiency and renewable natural gas technologies.
VG: What does Net Zero Energy mean to SoCalGas?
SCG: In concept, Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings produce as much energy as they consume over the course of the year. While the concept is simple, there are many requirements that affect the role of natural gas within these buildings.
For example, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) definition of ZNE is, “A ZNE Code Building is one where the value of the net amount of energy produced by on-site renewable energy resources is equal to the value of the energy consumed annually by the building, at the level of a single “project” seeking development entitlements and building code permits, measured using the California Energy Commission’s Time Dependent Valuation metric.”
The Department of Energy (DOE) definition of ZNE is, “An energy-efficient building where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual delivered energy is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy.”
These definitions recognize the role that fuels such as natural gas can have in ZNE. SoCalGas supports a balanced energy strategy to affordably achieve a range of sustainable and green standards and certifications including ZNE.
VG: How does SoCalGas envision a Net Zero Future? How does Natural Gas play a role in this? How is SoCalGas in a unique position compared to other Utilities?
SCG: As effective codes standards and environmental policies continue to drive the California’s buildings to ZNE, SoCalGas will continue to support a balanced energy approach to meet these goals. Installing high-efficiency natural gas technologies can help achieve high-performance energy-efficiency standards and green certifications, including ZNE, while catering to customer preferences. Being the only “natural gas-only” California investor-owned utility, SoCalGas is in the unique position to promote innovative natural gas offerings, including renewable natural gas and power-to-gas technologies supporting our clean-energy future.
VG: What is SoCalGas’ role in the Net Zero Future short term? Long term?
SCG: In the short term, SoCalGas will continue to demonstrate that innovative natural gas technologies can help meet a range of sustainable standards and certifications.
For example, ABC Green Home 3.0 – SoCalGas is a presenting sponsor of the ABC Green Home 3.0, a new construction two-story, four-bedroom single-family residence that was constructed by Habitat for Humanity in Fullerton, California. The house was built to ZNE standards with a balanced energy approach that includes natural gas, and features a multi-generational suite with bedroom, bath, and kitchenette to facilitate family or caretaker support to a disabled U.S. veteran who will live in the home.
The Resort at Playa Vista — The Resort at Playa Vista is a 25,000-square-foot state-of-the-art near-ZNE community recreational facility providing complimentary services and healthy lifestyle programming for the residents of Playa Vista. The Resort serves as a model of how a dual-fuel approach with natural gas can work efficiently and effectively to meet customer preferences and needs while helping to reach California’s aspirational goal of Zero Net Energy.
In the long term, renewable natural gas and power-to-gas technologies currently in research and development stages are being developed as ways to address the state’s longer-term GHG goals and renewables portfolio standards.
California could produce almost 300 billion cubic feet of renewable natural gas per year just from organic waste. Instead of landfilling or burning that waste, California could use it to generate enough renewable electricity to power 2 to 3 million homes or enough to replace 75% of all the diesel used by motor vehicles in California.
In fact, the biogas we produce from food and green waste has a NEGATIVE carbon intensity value—that means using biogas produced from food and green waste not only has 0 emissions—it actually takes carbon out of the air!
It’s important to remember, this process runs on methane that would normally be released into our atmosphere and converts it into clean fuel to heat our homes and fuel our vehicles. It’s a double environmental win—we reduce emissions from the Agriculture and Waste sectors and generate a renewable energy source for other applications.
VG: What makes the Verdical Group Conference different to other events, or makes it worthwhile to support at a major level?
SCG: The Verdical Group Net Zero Conference is a great opportunity to communicate our message of energy efficiency, and future natural gas technologies to both local and national environmental leaders. As the largest ZNE conference in the nation, this provides SoCalGas the opportunity to spread that message to a vast number of customers within our service territory and beyond.
VG: What important conversations do you hope people will come away from the conference having?
SCG: SoCalGas hopes to continue the discussion surrounding future natural gas technologies and opportunities, including renewable natural gas and power-to-gas.
VG: What do you wish people knew about SoCalGas (broad, or NZE related)?
SCG: New home builders are in the forefront of the clean energy revolution taking place in California. Evolving building codes with ever-increasing energy efficiency requirements are driving toward a ZNE goal in which the amount of energy consumed by a home is virtually matched by a corresponding amount of energy self-generated by the homes. SoCalGas is your partner in that clean-energy future, since installing high-efficiency natural gas appliances is part of a balanced energy approach to affordably achieve a range of sustainable and green standards and certifications, including ZNE.
 Bioenergy Association of California, ”Decarbonizing The Gas Sector: Why California Needs A Renewable Gas Standard,” November 2014.