Environmental Policy Council
Sustainability at the top
Sustainability at Norfolk Southern starts at the top. Wick Moorman, our CEO, began championing the creation of a formal sustainability program in 2007. He assigned oversight to our Environmental Policy Council.
The council, comprised of senior executives including department heads, has long been a testament to our commitment to environmental stewardship. It was formed in the mid-1990s to ensure that the railroad was in compliance with government rules and regulations and with corporate policies regarding environmental issues. Our corporate sustainability officer is now a member.
Among the FORTUNE 500 companies we compare ourselves with, Norfolk Southern was a leader in forming a council of this type. While monitoring compliance issues remains a big part of the council’s work, it now plays a key role in sustainability, ensuring that all departments are aware of and contributing to the company’s efforts.
“We do not just pay lip service to the concept of sustainability,” said council chair, Deb Butler, our executive vice president of planning and chief information officer. “The whole company owns the sustainability process. We are doing everything we can to promote sustainability, not only internally, but also externally, to ensure that we are positioned as a sustainable, responsible company.”
The council presents a forum where significant initiatives can be reported, internal programs discussed, and issues quickly resolved because all department heads with the authority to enact change are at the table. Part of its work is reviewing best practices in corporate sustainability and examining what other railroads are doing to reduce their business impacts on the environment.
As CIO, Butler oversees development and implementation of many of the technologies Norfolk Southern is adopting to improve operating efficiencies and customer service. One of her primary interests is how those same technologies can contribute to sustainability.
“The idea of using technology to improve locomotive fuel efficiency and to take advantage of freight rail’s position as an environmentally responsible mode of transportation appeals greatly to me,” Butler said.
Norfolk Southern’s conservation efforts hit home for Butler. Our Trees and Trains initiative to reforest former woodlands in the Mississippi Delta resonates with her because she grew up on the Mississippi and witnessed the river’s annual flooding – something the tree planting will help alleviate. She also applauds the company’s efforts to protect our Brosnan Forest property near Charleston, S.C. The Forest is home to rare stands of longleaf pine and endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers.
“You can talk about sustainability as being the right thing to do, and you can get into the marketing area and the political area of positioning ourselves as environmentally responsible,” Butler said. “In the end, I think it’s personal as well.”
Norfolk Southern earned the top ranking among railroads in the S&P 500 Clean Capitalism Ranking released in February 2012 by Corporate Knights, a media, research, and financial products company that focuses on clean capitalism. Among S&P 500 companies overall, Norfolk Southern ranked 66.
The ranking rated S&P 500 companies based on 11 key performance indicators, including carbon productivity, energy productivity, safety productivity, CEO-to-average employee pay ratio, leadership diversity, and percent of tax paid in cash. The data were collected by Corporate Knights and verified with The Bloomberg Professional service. Companies were ranked relative to their industry peers.
Corporate Knights S&P 500 Clean Capitalism: NS ranked 66