PG&E’s New Gas Safety Academy Designed by Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture Open in Winters, California

November 29, 2017


New state-of-the-art training facility is best-in-class for natural gas pipeline safety protocols.

(YOLO COUNTY – WINTERS, CA) – Classes have started at Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) new training facility specifically for the energy company’s gas workers. Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture (D+B) and DPR Construction (DPR) served as architects and contractor, respectively, for the Gas Safety Academy. Construction was completed in late 2017.

Jason A. Silva, AIA, design principal at D+B and the project’s designer, said, “The Gas Safety Academy enables student technicians to learn the best practices for the construction, repair and protection of natural gas pipelines in a safe, completely controlled environment. It was designed with safety as the top priority and the types of educational spaces reflect that.”

Consistent with the company’s safety standards, the facility is equipped with state-of-the-art gas operations protocols to ensure best practices are implemented for all gas worker trainees. “A core value of DPR is Ever Forward; meaning continual, self-initiated change, improvement, learning and the advancement of standards, so we’re extremely proud to be a part of a project where the vision parallels that value, and increases public safety,” said Ian Bolnik, the project’s manager at DPR Construction.

The new 40-acre campus is on PG&E-owned land at E. Grant Avenue and Interstate 505 in the City of Winters, California. The site was previously owned by the McClish family and was used as an apricot orchard, and tomato and winter wheat fields before being sold.

Types of Education

The Gas Safety Academy is divided into three distinct buildings on the campus, the Learning Center; Transmission & Distribution (T&D) Tech Center; and Weld Lab. The main Learning Center building contains eight Training Classrooms and Simulator Room with an attached wing housing two additional Training Classrooms; Maintenance & Construction (M&C) Tech Center with Electrical Workshop; and Flow Lab that includes an area for high pressure gas simulation and gas chromatography. The Learning Center also includes an open dining café, business center, conference rooms, virtual learning studio, and administrative offices. The T&D Tech Center building houses two Training Classrooms, Utility Worker covered training area, Plastic Fusion Lab, and an Industrial Safety at Heights covered training area. The Weld Lab building consists of two Training Classrooms, welding test and prep space, and an outdoor covered material storage with prep space.

Several outdoor “Training Venues” are also part of the curriculum. One venue, a Utility Village, is a simulated neighborhood with a single-family residence, duplex and apartments for practicing various real world natural gas emergency scenarios in a controlled environment. The Utility Village was designed with space to add future training structures. Additional training venues include a cathodic protection area, cold pits, crane certification, well-head simulation, pipeline inspection area, hydro-strength training, transmission training area and dirt work areas.

Sustainability Features

The Gas Safety Academy is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Sustainable features include sunshade louvers on exterior windows, deep overhangs and covered outdoor areas on the building’s south side, extensive drought tolerant native plantings, access to alternative transportation including public transit, bicycle storage, Low Emitting Vehicle parking and Electric Vehicle charging stations, low VOC interior materials and ­onsite storm water management. The project also supports use of local and recycled materials, a 35% reduction in water use, 20+% reduction in energy use, and the recycling of 75% of construction waste.

About Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture

Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture (D+B), founded in ­1950 in Sacramento, Calif., with an office in San Francisco, is a mid-size firm headquartered in the California capital. The firm serves corporate, public, and institutional markets with solutions achieved through collaboration and innovation. Committed to a sustainable future, D+B brings expertise in architecture, master planning, interiors, graphic design, and construction services. Recent projects include the E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts, Sacramento State Parking Structure V and the Placer County Animal Services Center.

About DPR Construction, Inc.

DPR ( is a forward-thinking national general contractor and construction manager specializing in technically complex and sustainable projects for the advanced technology/mission critical, life sciences, healthcare, higher education and commercial markets. Founded in 1990, DPR is a privately held, employee-owned company that has grown to a multi-billion-dollar organization with offices around the country, making it one of the largest general contractors in the nation and a great story of entrepreneurial success.

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