Norfolk Southern Sustainability Report: Normalized Emissions Drop 2%
In 2010, the company produced 28.8 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per revenue-ton mile. That figure fell to 28.1 grams in 2011, according to the company’s 2012 sustainability report, which covers the 2011 calender year.
In its 2009 baseline year the company produced 30 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per revenue-ton mile. The 2011 results put Norfolk Southern 60 percent of the way towards its 2014 goal of 27 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per revenue-ton mile, or a 10 percent reduction over 2009 levels.
The company’s absolute emissions rose from 5.2 million metric tons to 5.4 million metric tons, or 3.8 percent, year-on-year. The railway’s operating revenues increased from $9.5 billion to $11.2 billion, or 17.8 percent, over the same time period.
Some 91.41 percent of the company’s 2011 emissions came from diesel fuel, five percent of its emissions came from electricity and the remainder split almost evenly between gasoline and other fuels such as coal, natural gas, propane and jet fuel.
During 2011, Norfolk Southern’s average locomotive fuel efficiency – measured by revenue ton-miles per gallon of fuel – dipped slightly from 2010. Its revenue trains moved a ton of freight an average 407 miles on a gallon of diesel fuel, down from an average 413 miles in 2010, a 1.4 percent decline.
Norfolk Southern attributes the decline in large part to record-setting winter storms that disrupted network efficiencies from January through March in the Midwest. Because of traffic backups caused by snow and ice storms, many trains idled on tracks as they waited to gain entry to rail terminals. In addition to weather, the company says it experienced issues with network fluidity because of challenges arising from hiring and deploying qualified train crews following a faster-than expected rise in business activity as the economy began recovering from recession in 2010, the report says.
By the end of 2011, Norfolk Southern had equipped 967 locomotives – 40 percent of its fleet – with an onboard train-handling system called LEADER, or Locomotive Engineer Assist Display Event Recorder. LEADER prompts locomotive engineers with real-time information on optimum throttle speeds and brake settings to achieve maximum fuel efficiency. The system takes into account the train’s length and weight and provides recommendations on how to operate the train based on hilly terrain, curves, and other track conditions. Operating results indicate that the LEADER technology provides locomotives with a four percent fuel efficiency advantage on average, the report says.
In October 2009, the company unveiled a zero-emission, battery-operated locomotive.
The company is also trying to increase efficiency in its electricity consumption. Five years ago, Norfolk Southern launched a roughly $12 million plan to equip 600 offices, shops, and facilities in 300 locations with fluorescent lamps. Through 2011, the company had installed more than 87,000 light fixtures and the refit was about 75 percent complete. Its goal is to finish the project by end of 2013.
These longer-lasting, more energy-efficient lamps resulted in estimated energy savings of $4 million in 2011. With estimated cumulative savings since 2008 approaching $12 million, Norfolk Southern is close to recovering the cost of the project before full implementation, the report says.
The company has also adopted LEED building principles in the construction of its four regional intermodal facilities in Tennessee, Alabama, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Norfolk Southern has also increased the amount of crossties used for energy recovery and the number of crossties reused internally. These increases appear to have come at the expense of selling crossties off for landscaping use.
The company also increased its amount of lead recycled from 623,639 pounds in 2010 to 875,990 in 2011. The amount of nickel the company recycled increased from 25,034 pounds in 2010 to 32,085 in 2011. Norfolk Southern recycled roughly the same amount of cadmium, around 32,000 pounds, in both 2010 and 2011.
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