Leading by Example: Sustainability Works at Norfolk Southern

Leading by Example: Sustainability Works at Norfolk Southern

By Wick Moorman, CEO
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Norfolk Southern is leading by example http://3bl.me/w8c9bm how #sustainability works at @nscorp in new @BizRoundtable report
Monday, April 20, 2015 - 9:50am

CONTENT: Article

As a freight rail company that provides transportation services across 22 eastern U.S. states, with links to the global marketplace, Norfolk Southern is uniquely positioned to contribute to reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The environmental advantages of moving consumer goods and other products by rail are well documented in terms of fuel efficiencies and emissions reduction. Through investments and partnerships, Norfolk Southern strives to continuously improve on those supply chain efficiencies, which helps our customers shrink their own emissions footprints.

Fuel efficiency — and, more broadly, energy efficiency — is a core sustainability issue for Norfolk Southern. Our diesel locomotive fleet accounts for about 90 percent of the railroad’s annual GHG emissions, and the fuel bill is one of our largest operating expenses. We are fully engaged in reducing those environmental impacts and costs. For example, over four years starting in 2010, we reduced our GHG emissions intensity by nearly 8 percent per revenue ton-mile of freight moved, even as business volumes grew.

We achieved this through strategic investments in innovative and industry-leading initiatives. A majority of our road locomotives, for example, are equipped with train-handling technology we pioneered with an industry partner, with average fuel-efficiency gains of around 5 percent. We’ve developed a unique in-house locomotive rebuild program that recycles 1970s and 1980s platforms and outfits them with more-fuel-efficient, cleaner-burning engines. We are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in terminal and rail improvements to shave time, costs and emissions from train routes.

We began broadly focusing on energy conservation with a 2007 initiative to install more cost- and energy-efficient lighting systems in 600 offices, shops and terminal facilities. Now, we are embedding sustainability deeper into operations as we embark on a $50 million energy conversion project at our largest locomotive shop in Altoona, Pa. The project will reduce our nonlocomotive GHG emissions by around 7 percent, in part by replacing three 1950s coal-fired boilers with cleaner natural gas heaters.

In 2011, we started Trees and Trains, a carbon mitigation program, with a $5.6 million investment to reforest 10,000 acres of former woodlands in the Mississippi Delta. Nearly complete, the project will generate 1.12 million tons of carbon-offset credits and benefit a region long served by our railroad.

Norfolk Southern embraces the view that conserving energy, reducing emissions and protecting natural resources are our corporate responsibilities. With a focus on building long-term value through sustainable business practices, Norfolk Southern and all our stakeholders — customers, investors, employees, suppliers, communities — share in the benefits.

Read more about Norfolk Southern's commitment to sustainable business practices in our Sustainability Report.