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We tackle large initiatives such as improving our locomotive fuel economy while maintaining our commitment to the day-to-day responsibilities that include recycling mechanical shop supplies. Every step we take makes a cumulative impact that benefits Norfolk Southern, our customers, and the world around us.
Norfolk Southern’s efforts to improve fuel efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions reflect our spirit of environmental stewardship as we move essential goods across the eastern U.S. By investing in technology and modernizing our locomotive fleet, we’ve improved fuel efficiency more than 25% since we began tracking use in 1987. Compared with 1987, we avoided more than 1.4 million metric tons of Greenhouse Gases emissions in 2019 alone – equivalent to removing more than 310,800 cars from the road for a year.
Rail is one of the greenest ways to ship freight. Norfolk Southern helps our customers avoid almost 15 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year compared with shipping by highway, equivalent to saving approximately 1.5 billion gallons of truck diesel.
We are not satisfied with just reducing our CO₂ output. We are also making the air we breathe cleaner through our Trees and Trains 10,000-acre reforestation project, capturing over 240,000 metric tons of CO₂ from the atmosphere. Our 6 million trees are now capturing over 50,000 metric tons of CO2 each year. This carbon mitigation program provides opportunities for our customers to offset their rail emissions to meet their environmental goals.
Norfolk Southern is committed to reducing and recycling waste materials from operations. We are also proud to be a part of Operation Clean Sweep, working with our customers to eliminate plastic pollution, with the aim of reaching zero loss of plastic resin to the environment. Beyond rail operations, engaging our employees in recycling efforts provides even more avenues to reduce our waste, from recycling lightbulbs to batteries.
Investing in technology pays dividends for the planet. Norfolk Southern uses computer-based solutions — data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine-learning algorithms — to increase efficiencies and shrink our environmental footprint. Just as important, focused investments on physical improvements such as modernizing our locomotive fleet and maintaining our rail infrastructure ensure safe and efficient operations while further reducing our impacts on the environment.
We are reducing fuel consumption and emissions through smart technologies and data. Norfolk Southern is equipping 100% of our locomotive fleet with advanced energy management systems, an auto throttle control technology that regulates train speed and dynamic braking to achieve optimum fuel efficiency. Our Optimized Terminal Control System automates and streamlines operations at our intermodal rail facilities, letting truckers check in via mobile app and spend less time idling, resulting in less fuel consumption and emissions.
Norfolk Southern’s locomotive upgrades add to existing conservation efforts. Instead of scrapping older DC models in the fleet, we are converting more than 500 units to modern AC technology, increasing their pulling power and reliability. In key parts of train operations, we can replace three DC units with two AC units, further reducing overall fuel burn. At the same time, by increasing the efficiency of our operations through precision scheduled railroading, we retired nearly 1,000 older, less efficient locomotives, reducing our emissions even more.
With technology upgrades and updated locomotives, how we run our trains also benefits the environment. With precision scheduled railroading, we consolidate traffic into fewer, heavier trains and run more direct routes – saving fuel and lowering emissions.
Operating in cities and towns where our neighbors thrive is a privilege, and we work with community partners to improve environmental conditions and revitalize industrial areas. As an industry leader in public-private partnerships and collaboration, we are committed to being a responsible corporate citizen.
Oysters, river otters, and other wildlife have a new place to call home along an industrial stretch of the Elizabeth River that Norfolk Southern reclaimed as a living shoreline. This innovative sustainability project transformed a stretch of severely eroded shoreline at the railroad’s Lamberts Point terminal into a green oasis. This project advances community goals of creating a healthier river ecosystem while achieving business goals of protecting railroad assets from rising tides.
Through innovative public-private partnerships, we are helping to protect air quality in neighborhoods around our rail yards. As part of our Eco locomotive initiative, Norfolk Southern is transforming 1980s model switcher locomotives to help our neighbors breathe easier, upgrading these older locomotives into cleaner burning and more reliable “like new” units. This helps urban communities across our network reduce transportation-related emissions, improve air quality, and comply with federal Clean Air Act attainment standards.
In another public-private venture, we developed the “Sleeper” system, an idle-reduction technology designed in-house that features an innovative plug-in system to charge batteries and heat engines. With the Sleeper installed in rail yards across our system, locomotives can be plugged in and turned off when not needed for operations, resulting in less noise, fewer emissions and protecting engines from freezing in cold weather.
Wall Street Journal’s list of the 100 Most Sustainably Managed Companies in the World
* Reprinted with the permission of the Wall Street Journal
INBOUND LOGISTICS list of 2020 75 Green Supply Chain Partners