​SMUD’s environmental commitment

Our commitment to the environment is evident every day. It’s a part of our DNA. We're always looking to reduce our impact on the environment, improve regional air quality and conserve resources for future generations. Environmental Leadership is one of the SMUD Board’s core values.

Learn more about our activities below.

From reducing our carbon footprint to supporting local business, we're working hard to improve the quality of life throughout the Sacramento region.

Waste reduction and recycling

For SMUD, landfills are a last resort. In 2018, more than 64% of our solid material waste was sent elsewhere, mostly through recycling. Our utility operations department recycles used tires, construction debris and PCB-free oils along with scrap metals such as old transformers. Our offices recycles everyday items from paper, cardboard, bottles and cans to electronic waste such as old computers and printers.

Where we can, we choose products that are better for the environment. We’ve switched from mineral oil to vegetable oil in our transformers. Other choices include using water-based paints and non-chlorinated cleaners.

Green buildings

SMUD’s own buildings are designed to be energy efficient and reduce their impact on the environment.

  • SMUD’s Customer Service Center, at 65th and S streets in East Sacramento, won the highest award given for energy efficiency and environmental design. The Platinum Award from the Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Environmental Design (LEED) was awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council in April 2007.
  • The East Campus Operations Center at Kiefer Boulevard and Bradshaw Road received LEED platinum certification in 2013.
  • Our newly rehabilitated Headquarters Building on S Street is going for gold certification.

All new SMUD buildings and substantial remodels will seek at least LEED silver-level certification.

Clean fleet

SMUD is reducing its vehicle emissions through a variety of ways. We're using low carbon fuels, and investing in electric and hybrid vehicles. Currently nearly 12% of SMUD’s 981 vehicle fleet consists of hybrid or electric vehicles. We repair and service our vehicles under the Clean Shops program.

Sustainable purchasing

SMUD's Environmentally Sustainable Purchasing Program encourages our vendors to generate less waste, use more recycled products, support renewable energy, increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions in their operations. That way, we all benefit.

Being good stewards of the environment means we care for the land, air, water and wildlife in the community we serve. SMUD protects these resources while meeting our customers’ demand for electric service. Below are some of the ways we carry out this responsibility.

Avian protection

Keeping birds out of SMUD’s electrical equipment and preventing the outages that sometimes result is an ongoing effort. Please help us – and our feathered friends – by calling SMUD’s Avian Protection hotline at 1-916-732-5657 to report outages caused by birds or report birds that are building nests on utility poles or substations. SMUD’s cost-effective strategies for keeping birds out of the electrical equipment are featured in our Avian Protection Plan.

Nature preserve

SMUD has established a 1,132-acre Nature Preserve on our Rancho Seco property in southeastern Sacramento County. The preserve provides long-term protection of the wetlands for protected animals such as fairy and tadpole shrimp and the California tiger salamander. The preserve offsets the biological impacts of SMUD’s power generation operations. The Howard Ranch Trail in the Nature Preserve is open to the public.

Invasive mussel protection

Quagga and zebra mussels are harmful, invasive mollusks in California waters. If they spread, they could cause significant environmental and economic challenges. Although the risk to SMUD’s reservoirs, canals, water pipes and water cooling systems is low to moderate, SMUD adopted a plan to watch for these mussels and educate the public.

SMUD is committed to following environmental laws and our own policies. We do so through a variety of permits, audits, inspections and verifications from outside sources. Much of our work in this area falls into the categories below:

Environmental review

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exists to inform decision makers and the public about the potential significant environmental effects of proposed activities. Learn more about the CEQA process and to review SMUD projects that require a CEQA document.

Clean water

Caring for our waterways is part of SMUD’s operation and construction activities and includes permitting, monitoring, reporting and employee training. Storm water and other water releases are monitored to ensure that chemical and sediment pollutants do not enter our region’s waterways. SMUD is continuously working to ensure that our operations do not impact the water quality or health and aesthetics of our rivers and lakes.

Emergency response

SMUD staff is on call 24 hours a day to assist with emergency environmental cleanup and permitting. Response may be needed for oil or other material cleanup efforts due to storms and accidents. Sometimes this may require installing new equipment in environmentally sensitive areas.