Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
WHO IS SPONSORING THE STUDY?
The fugitive methane study is sponsored by the California Energy Commission (CEC). The CEC has hired ICF—an international energy and research firm—to administer the survey, organize the on-site leak tests, and collect data needed to understand the scale of methane leaks across the state.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE SURVEY/STUDY?
Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG). Over its lifespan, it is 20 to 80 times more powerful than CO2 at trapping heat. While California businesses have undertaken many commendable efforts to reduce their GHG emissions in recent years, there is increasing awareness that fugitive methane (i.e., unintentional leakage of natural gas) may be a source that is not being well addressed. The good news is that many of these fugitive emissions can be detected and minimized.
The purpose of this study—which includes both the online survey and on-site leak detection tests—is to better understand the scale and nature of potential methane leaks, identify the building characteristics and business types that might be associated with methane leaks, and help design potential programs to reduce methane leaks across the state.
WHO ARE THE TARGET PARTICIPANTS FOR THE STUDY?
The target participants for this study include both (1) building/facility managers and (2) business operators who can provide data on building characteristics and natural gas usage at commercial buildings in California.
WHAT IF I COMPLETE SOME, BUT NOT ALL, OF THE QUESTIONS IN THE SURVEY?
No problem. Please respond to as many questions as you can, but it is fine to submit a survey that is only partially completed.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF GETTING A FREE ON-SITE LEAK DETECTION TEST?
Taking advantage of the free on-site inspection can help your company to detect wasted gas, reduce fuel costs, and lower GHG emissions, while providing valuable data about fugitive emissions to help develop the statewide estimates and target potential solutions. Participating companies will also receive a certification of participation that can be used for sustainability reporting and marketing purposes.
WHAT DOES THE ON-SITE LEAK TESTING INVOLVE? WILL IT DISRUPT MY BUSINESS OPERATIONS?
The free on-site testing will be conducted by our nonprofit partner, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI). The testing will involve: (1) characterizing methane leaks from piping and equipment within commercial buildings that is downstream of the distribution utility meter, and (2) estimating un-combusted natural gas used as fuel in on-site equipment such as boilers, stoves/ranges, and space heaters. The testing will NOT require turning off any gas appliances or pilot lights and should not impact normal business operations.
CAN I GET A FREE INSPECTION IF I DON’T COMPLETE THE SURVEY?
Yes! If you’d like to receive a free gas leak detection test at your property, please write to CommercialBuildingsSurvey@icf.com. While we’d prefer to also receive your response to the survey questions, it is not a requirement for taking advantage of the free on-site testing.
WILL MY SURVEY RESPONSES OR DATA OBTAINED DURING THE FREE INSPECTION BE CONFIDENTIAL, AND HOW WILL IT BE USED?
Survey responses will remain confidential, and all data collected will be aggregated with those from many other respondents to further protect confidentiality. Survey data and field test data will be combined to build up a more accurate estimate of the scale and nature of methane leaks across California’s commercial building stock.
WILL ANY RESPONSES I GIVE TO THE SURVEY OR DATA OBTAINED DURING THE FREE INSPECTION BE USED TO FINE ME? E.G., IF YOU FIND A LEAK, WILL I GET A FINE FROM CEC OR ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT AGENCY?
No, there are no such fines or penalties. Furthermore, survey responses will remain confidential and all data collected from on-site leak detection tests will be aggregated with those from other respondents.
CAN’T YOU GET THIS INFORMATION FROM THE GAS COMPANY?
No. The gas company does not have the necessary data on individual building characteristics and gas appliances in use. This study depends on your participation to help collect this critical information.
CAN I PROVIDE THIS INFORMATION BY PHONE OR EMAIL, RATHER THAN VIA THE ONLINE SURVEY?
Yes. If you’d prefer to provide this information verbally over the phone or by filling out an alternative Excel-based tool, please contact
HOW CAN I SPREAD THE WORD TO OTHER PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN THIS STUDY?
WHO CAN I WRITE TO WITH QUESTIONS OR TO GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE STUDY?
Please write to CommercialBuildingsSurvey@icf.com if you have any questions about the study or would like assistance in completing the survey or scheduling an on-site leak detection test.