Assessment of Fugitive Emissions from the Natural Gas System-Commercial Buildings

Developing a field method to plan, conduct, and analyze measurements of fugitive methane leaks/emissions from commercial buildings in California.

Institute of Gas Technology dba GTI Energy


Des Plaines, IL

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

The project is completed. The researchers developed measurement techniques for fugitive emissions from piping components and combustion equipment and validated them in the field for most of the commercial equipment encountered. The majority of those fugitive emissions came from a relatively small number of appliance and piping component types. This suggests it may be possible to significantly reduce fugitive emissions from the commercial food service sector by identifying and repairing a relatively small number of problem areas. The results are shared with the California Air Resource Board (CARB). CARB is considering using the results from this study and other Energy Commission funded methane emission studies to improve its GHG inventory.

The Issue

California has initiated efforts for quantifying emissions for some sources of emissions, such as natural gas pipelines. However, experts recognize that emissions from other sources, such as commercial buildings, have not been well characterized. This project is essential to providing the necessary information to measure and quantify methane emissions from commercial buildings.

Project Innovation

This project developed and validated a field method to measure after-meter methane leakage from natural gas-fired appliances and gas piping. The researchers took field measurements at 20 commercial food service sites and two inpatient healthcare facilities in California. Using data collected from these buildings, the project team performed a variety of statistical analyses to estimate the magnitude of methane emissions from the food service sector for several scenarios. These scenarios include cities and regions that have different numbers of food service sites with different sizes of operation.

Project Benefits

This project collected methane emission data from California's commercial building sector. This is the first time emissions from this sector have been systematically studied. The findings from this study were shared with the California Air Resources Board to improve estimations of methane emissions from buildings, which are essential to ensure that the State develops well-informed emission reduction strategies.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

The project results assist in quantification of after-the-meter methane leakages from commercial sectors. This information will help California's efforts to reduce greenhouse gases by informing the greenhouse gas inventory calculation managed by the California Air Resource Board. This project began the process of better estimating the impact of these sectors on total statewide emissions.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Larry Brand

R&D Director



Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


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