Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) is expanding programs with the U.S. Green Building Council, Global Green USA and Habitat for Humanity International to permit customers in the northern half of California to gain certification in the Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

In addition, the utility said customers involved in the PG&E ClimateSmart program can now receive LEED credit for enrolling their natural gas accounts in the voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction program.

Tom Bottorff, senior vice president for regulatory relations, said the utility is committed to making “renewable energy, energy efficiency education, and voluntary carbon offsets available to all the diverse California communities we serve.”

LEED is a voluntary third-party rating system in which credits are earned for satisfying state and federal green building criteria. Projects are assessed on sustainability of sites, water efficiency, energy/atmosphere impacts, materials/resources use and indoor environmental quality. “Innovative design” elements are also considered.

PG&E said it is granting an additional $200,000 to Global Green USA for silver-level LEED certification of 14 Habitat-built homes, supporting the work of the two nonprofits. The donation will cover LEED certification for Habitat homes in four areas — Oakland, Strawberry, Fresno and Cotati, CA.

In addition, PG&E said its ClimateSmart program has been approved for LEED credit by the Green Building Council, and the utility’s voluntary GHG emission reduction program is eligible for one of LEED’s “innovative design” credits.

“PG&E is the first utility to offer a program to its customers enabling them to receive LEED credit for a natural gas GHG emission reduction,” a PG&E spokesperson said.

Through ClimateSmart, PG&E customers can participate in a tax-deductible effort to offset emissions produced by their energy use, making that use climate neutral. The utility calculates participating customers’ actual GHG emissions through their individual gas and electricity use on a monthly basis and adds the amount needed to make each customer’s energy use climate neutral as a surcharge on the monthly bill. An average residential customer pays less than $5 monthly, the PG&E spokesperson said.

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