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NS is committed to industry leadership in sustainability.

Browse Environment


Stewardship of resources
is embedded in our business strategy:

Norfolk Southern works to achieve balance between business operations and the environment. A commitment to sustainable business practices makes a positive difference in business today and will have a lasting impact on the environment for generations to come.

  • NS adopted a carbon-mitigation strategy, Trees and Trains, that turns the company's carbon footprint into a corporate opportunity. In our largest project, the company invested $5.6 million over five years to reforest 10,000 acres in the Mississippi Delta. Between 2016 and 2030, the trees will generate an estimated 1.12 million carbon credits that NS can use to offset its carbon emissions or sell to others wishing to offset their environmental impacts. 

  • Through its progressive locomotive rebuilding program, NS has developed a new class of low-emission Eco locomotives for rail yard service now used in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Macon, Ga. These public-private partnerships tap funds available to reduce transportation-related diesel emissions. NS is helping these areas improve air quality and meet their commitments under the federal Clean Air Act.

  • To reduce unnecessary locomotive idling in rail yards, NS developed the “Sleeper,” an innovative plug-in system that charges batteries and heats engines, allowing locomotives to be turned off in freezing weather. This idle-reduction technology, another public-private venture, helps NS achieve sustainability’s triple bottom line of social, environmental, and economic benefits. The Sleeper enhances air quality in neighborhoods around rail yards, reduces emissions linked to climate change, and lowers fuel use and costs for NS. 

  • As part of the railroad's strategic plan, NS adopted an aggressive goal to improve locomotive fuel-efficiency by nearly 9 percent by 2020. The effort aims to reduce both fuel costs and locomotive fleet emissions, the company's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Since introducing a prototype battery-operated switcher locomotive in 2009, NS has continued studying the use of battery power to reduce carbon emissions. We have explored developing a "micro-hybrid" solution to reduce locomotive engine idling. The idea is to equip locomotives with a small auxiliary battery pack to operate critical engine systems while the engine is shut off. Today's sophisticated locomotive engine systems can quickly drain power from the main battery if the locomotive is shut off for too long.
  • NS is improving the energy efficiency of its office, yard, shop, and field facilities by replacing older lighting and HVAC equipment with the most cost- and energy-efficient technologies available. For example, a $53-million energy-conversion project at the company's Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, Pa., is reducing the shop's carbon emissions by nearly 60 percent, improving energy efficiency by half, and saving $4 million annually in operating costs.  

  • A participant in the American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care Partner Program since 1996, NS led development of the rail industry third-party certification protocol. This voluntary partnership program reflects the company's commitment to work across business sectors to continually improve performance in environmental, health, safety, and security programs involving transport of chemicals.

The ‘Sleeper’ – Fuel savings and cleaner air

Norfolk Southern has deployed its "Sleeper" idle-reduction technology at rail yards in Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Mo., and six cities in Ohio. The company's Government Relations team continues to look for public-private partnership opportunities to expand its use. Learn more about the Sleeper in this video.