LEED & Low Emissions Cranes

Corridor terminals highlight rail’s environmental advantage

To underscore rail as the most environmentally responsible way to move freight over land, Norfolk Southern went an extra mile on new intermodal terminal buildings on our Crescent Corridor.

We adopted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification standards to construct administrative office buildings at the facilities to reduce their environmental footprint. We have built LEED-designed offices at new regional intermodal facilities at Rossville, Tenn., McCalla, Ala., and Greencastle, Penn., and we are constructing a fourth in Charlotte, N.C. The green touches will reduce energy and water use.

Following LEED best practices, we used “low-impact” construction materials such as light-colored metal “cool” roofs that reflect heat, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and high-efficiency heating and cooling units. The LEED features make the buildings look different from a typical rail facility office, such as the way windows are arranged to make better use of sunlight, and the use of extended roof overhangs that act as sun shades to reduce air-conditioning use. Bike racks were installed for employees inclined to pedal to work.

Adhering to LEED standards increased each building’s costs by about 15 percent. Eventually, we should recoup those extra costs as a result of savings we achieve from reduced energy and water use, said Ken Hearn, manager of architectural services. “We want to be a responsible corporate citizen,” he said, “and this is a way we can minimize the impact we make on the environment in a cost-effective way.”

Hybrid cranes save fuel, reduce emissions
In addition to its green LEED design, the Birmingham Regional Intermodal Terminal at McCalla, Ala., is our first intermodal facility to use a new type of battery-powered hybrid crane intended to save fuel and reduce environmental impacts of operations.

We purchased two of the hybrid rubber tire gantry cranes, known as RTGs, which are used to lift intermodal containers on and off rail cars. The hybrid cranes are powered by a bank of 108 batteries and are designed for continuous operation. During use, a low-horsepower diesel engine charges the batteries.

We’ve been pleased with the results. Standard diesel RTG cranes we use consume 6 to 7 gallons of diesel per operating hour, compared with about 2 gallons an hour for the hybrid cranes. That reduces fuel costs and emissions.

Our plan is to evaluate the performance of the two hybrid cranes over time and decide later whether to purchase more, based in part on return on investment. A consideration is that the hybrids are about 45 percent more expensive than standard diesel cranes.

In addition to the low-emission hybrids, we purchased seven fuel-efficient RTG cranes in 2012 for use at other new Crescent Corridor terminals. Those cranes are outfitted with a power-on-demand feature that saves fuel by producing just enough horsepower needed to perform specific functions. On average, that saves about 2 gallons of fuel per operating hour for each crane.

As we pursue greener technology across our operations, the experiment with hybrid cranes and our purchase of the new fuel-efficient cranes are examples of how the strategy is being put into place.

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Description of key impacts, risks and opportunities, how these are prioritized, performance progress and processes, how sustainability impacts financial performance, a table outlining performance targets, and governance mechanisms in place to manage these risks and opportunities.

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A little effort, a lot of food for those in need

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Building community partnerships

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Where good health meets good deeds

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Partnering for safety

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See all of our sustainability in action case studies