ESG 2021 Annual Report

The Environment

Sustainable Business Practices

Environmental Protection and Land Restoration

It is our priority to protect the environment and minimize our impact on the community and landowners.

Our engineering and construction departments plan every phase of each project, from the initial design phase through final restoration. SJI selects pipeline construction routes that avoid environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, wildlife habitats and their associated buffer zones. SJI also works with the community and landowners to choose routes with the fewest impacts to property. 

It is our goal to perform project work in compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws, guidance documents and other applicable requirements, as well as the terms of any licenses, permits and authorizations of any governmental authority or public utility. SJI endeavors to restore all disturbed land to its original condition after construction is complete. During the land disturbance, preventative measures are utilized to control sediment runoff.

SJI works closely with landowners to restore each property as specified in landowner agreements. This includes initial maintenance and repair work, as well as follow-up inspections of agricultural lands. SJI also makes every reasonable effort to complete the restoration of an area, including final grading and installation of permanent erosion control structures and seeding grass in a timely fashion. 

SJI and its partners have developed an Agricultural Impact Minimization Plan (AIMP) for major pipeline construction projects to address agricultural-related issues, including restoration of agricultural land. The purpose of the plan is to outline how projects will impact landowners during construction, surface restoration and the operation of the pipeline to minimize impacts on areas available for agriculture.

Waste Minimization and Recycling Program

SJI minimizes its waste production through source reduction, effective purchasing, chemical substitution, good housekeeping and recycling when possible. SJI is proud of its recycling of asphalt, concrete, used oil, inefficient lighting lamps and blasts, contaminated soils, wood waste and more. This year, the company separated the calculation of municipal waste into different categories. In 2021, SJI recycled 149 tons of business-related office debris, which was 28% of the total office debris.  We also recycled 859 tons of utility operations (includes pipeline construction and maintenance jobs) debris, which was 10% of the total utility operations debris based on the waste information available at the time of the report. At SJI, we aim to manage necessary waste disposal responsibly and we schedule frequent disposal pick-ups with waste disposal contractors.

Environmental Investigation and Remediation

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, manufactured gas was produced from materials such as coal and oil at manufactured gas plants (MGPs) all across the United States. SJI oversees the cleanup of 20 such sites owned by past or present subsidiary companies.  The Company is committed to meeting its legal obligations to ensure that these sites are properly investigated and remediated and meet all environmental standards and regulations.

SJI has continuously worked to meet its responsibilities with respect to sites that required investigation or remediation including completing the cleanup and closure of over 80% of our MGPs.  The remainder of our sites are being actively remediated and are projected to be closed within the next 5 years.  

Remediation of these sites  often  improves the surrounding community and helps to enhance public safety by restoring any disturbed infrastructure, curbs, sidewalks, pavement and landscaped areas.  Additionally, at our remediation sites where degraded or impacted wetland areas are part of the scope of remediation, our restoration efforts allow for a “better-than-existing” approach to the restoration. We can leave behind a more ecologically diverse habitat in areas that were once degraded or monocultural with regard to the plant population.

Building an Environmentally-Friendly Workplace

As SJI continues to grow and expand, we constantly look for opportunities to minimize our environmental footprint, including in our workplaces. In 2021, we made efforts at our facilities across New Jersey to reduce our environmental footprint with measures such as:

  • All of our SJI facilities have implemented comprehensive recycling programs.
  • Our South Jersey Gas Headquarters follows the rigorous Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards and processes, including the implementation of high-efficiency LED lighting with occupancy sensors, automated window shades with connectivity to the HVAC system, waterless men’s restroom facilities, air hand dryers in all restroom facilities and filtered water stations that helped reduce the waste from discarded plastic water bottles.
  • Our newly renovated Folsom office now includes motion sensor lighting controls (with high efficiency LED fixtures) and more efficient HVAC equipment.
  • Our janitorial services use green chemical products and recycled materials whenever possible.
  • The cafeteria vendor for our new South Jersey Gas Headquarters and SJI Headquarters sources food products with a focus on reducing their carbon footprint.  Additionally, all utensils and food containers are made from recycled materials and are recyclable. 
  • The Facilities Team has developed a plan to replace the lighting at the Operating Divisions to a more efficient LED solution and the HVAC systems at the Operating Divisions to reduce our carbon footprint and meet our sustainability goals. 
  • Including projects completed in 2021, we now have Solar Arrays at 4 South Jersey Gas Operating Divisions (Glassboro, Millville, Waterford, Pleasantville) with a plan to add arrays at the SJI Headquarters and 2 Elizabethtown sites in 2022. Each Array was constructed with the future in mind.  In addition, the company is considering the installation of  EV charging stations at each location over the next few years.

Water Disclosure

SJI has already implemented water use reduction methods through low flow or waterless restroom facilities and filtered water stations that helped reduce the waste from discarded plastic water bottles.  Based on SJI’s current operations, water use is not considered a material issue. Our goal at SJI is to maintain compliance with all environmental regulations and minimize any water impacts as a result of our operations.

We are excited to be part of the solution in New Jersey's clean energy future.

Climate-Related Risks and Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Opportunities

As a distributor of natural gas, a fossil fuel, policy changes to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions have the potential for impacting SJI's operations and financial performance. The New Jersey Energy Master Plan (EMP) and other regional climate plans outline key strategies for attaining the goal of 100% clean energy by 2050. SJI is working towards complying with policy and regulatory changes intended to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is anticipated that our natural gas infrastructure will have an important role to play in delivering the clean fuels of tomorrow to homes and businesses as we work collectively to meet future carbon constraints.

In the 4th quarter of 2021 SJI began a process to align our climate disclosure and internal practices with the Task Force for Climate Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) framework. As part of this process, we plan to  assess SJI’s physical and transitional climate risks and opportunities.