carbon mitigation

alternative fuels






Energy Use

Norfolk Southern offices and rail facilities consumed 453 million kilowatt hours of energy in 2014, a less than 1 percent increase over the previous year. The electricity consumption included power used for lighting, HVAC systems, air compressors, and machinery.

Grassroots Energy Reduction

Norfolk Southern’s energy services group began a grassroots outreach effort in late 2013 to reduce energy use and costs. The Energy Efficiency Equipment Program encourages employees to turn off lights in work spaces when not being used. Employees also are asked to report deficient equipment to the company’s facility services group, which oversees energy management systemwide.

Controlling Energy Use

Norfolk Southern is installing energy-efficient lighting and heating and cooling systems at facilities across our network to reduce electricity consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and operating costs.

“If you save a kilowatt hour, you’re saving carbon, so sustainability and energy usage are really intertwined. We truly do want to work with sustainability and do what’s right to improve our corporate responsibility.”

Andy Paul
senior manager energy and facility services

Systemwide Lighting Approach

In 2008, Norfolk Southern developed a plan to replace old light bulbs and fixtures with longer-lasting and more energy-efficient lighting technologies in 600 rail yards, offices, and shops at 300 locations.

The company continued to make progress in 2014, upgrading lighting at 32 facilities. Our energy services group said the lighting improvement projects will double electricity cost savings over 2013 projects. Overall, the company expects to reduce annual electricity use by 60 percent at the facilities, or nearly 32 million kilowatt hours.

Success in Kansas City

One of 2014’s most successful lighting projects was at the company’s Kansas City, Mo., auto distribution center. The existing lighting provided inadequate visibility to permit 24-hour inspection of new vehicles entering and exiting the facility, which can hold approximately 6,000 vehicles.

The project included replacement of nearly 2,900 bulbs and fixtures with bulbs that last up to four times longer, use less energy, and emit a brighter white light that enhances safety and security. For example, old-style 750-watt metal halide bulbs and magnetic ballast fixtures were replaced with more energy-efficient 315-watt ceramic metal halide bulbs that use electronic ballast. Likewise, older-style 150-watt bulbs and fixtures were replaced by modern 60-watt LED bulbs.

“The new lighting is much brighter and makes it safer to operate at night because of the higher visibility,” said Jennifer Knighton, regional manager automotive district.

While brighter, the lower-watt bulbs are expected to reduce annual electricity use by more than 22.6 million kilowatt hours, saving $318,000 on power and maintenance bills. For reducing power demands, the local utility, Kansas City Power and Light Company, granted Norfolk Southern a $222,000 rebate under a business rebate program. With the rebate included, the project will pay for itself in less than one year.

Improved Heating and Cooling

Through the energy services group’s Energy Efficiency Equipment program, Norfolk Southern is replacing heating and cooling systems that are 15 years old or older or that are mismatched for a facility. In 2014, the railroad upgraded or installed high-efficiency ENERGY STAR®-rated HVAC systems at 15 rail yards and terminals. Overall, the company expects to reduce energy use by 66 percent at the facilities.

Switch to Natural Gas

Norfolk Southern is converting heating equipment in railroad shop facilities to cleaner-burning and more economical natural gas. Facilities converting to natural gas in 2014 included:

  • 38th Street Car Shop in Norfolk. The shop, where employees repair and maintain rail cars, had been using oil heaters.
  • Lamberts Point locomotive shop in Norfolk. The locomotive shop, where employees repair and maintain locomotives, had also been using oil heaters.

A $53 million energy-conversion project at Norfolk Southern’s Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, Pa., showcases the railroad’s approach to sustainable business practices. The project will substantially reduce the costs to heat and power the facility and the carbon emissions associated with its operations.

The 70-acre facility, a complex of 16 buildings with about 30 acres under roof, is the largest locomotive repair shop in North America. With a workforce of around 1,000 employees, the shop is headquarters for the company’s locomotive rebuild program, develops innovative engine technologies, and is the main shop for engine overhauls.

Built in the 1880s by Norfolk Southern predecessor Pennsylvania Railroad, the complex has been heated for decades by three large 1950s coal-fired boilers that generate steam. The conversion project will replace the coal boilers with cleaner-burning natural gas heaters. Another key component involves installing a high-efficiency combined heat and power generator – called CHP – that runs on natural gas and produces electricity and heat.

With a 1.2 megawatt capacity, the CHP unit will produce enough electricity for the shop to be self-sustaining, reducing reliance on the regional power utility. Heat from the CHP unit’s engine and exhaust will be used for building heat and to generate steam for shop work processes.

The project also entails installing energy-efficient windows and bay doors, replacing leaky roofs, and adding insulation – making for a more comfortable, productive work environment for employees.

The Juniata facility is the last of Norfolk Southern’s mechanical shops to use coal to generate heat and power. Eliminating coal there will reduce carbon emissions by more than 29,000 tons annually in Pennsylvania and lower the company’s overall non-locomotive carbon emissions by an estimated 7 percent. That’s roughly equivalent to eliminating the CO₂ emissions produced annually by 6,115 automobiles.

Work on the conversion project began in spring 2015 and is expected to be completed in 2017. “This is about keeping the building viable for the future,” said Don Graab, vice president mechanical. “It’s a huge project and a huge undertaking.”

Juniata shop energy conversion by the numbers

Key components

  • Building envelope upgrades, including new energy-efficient windows, roof replacements, insulation, high-speed roll-up doors
  • Heating conversion from coal-fired steam boilers to natural gas heaters
  • Electrical infrastructure replacement
  • Efficiency upgrades to existing natural gas-fired boilers
  • Addition of a combined heat and power generator


$4 million annually

sustainablity gains

  • 29,047 tons of carbon emissions eliminated annually
    – 58 percent reduction in the shop’s current carbon emissions
    – 7 percent reduction in Norfolk Southern’s overall non-locomotive carbon emissions
  • 49.4 million gallons of water saved annually from steam-water recovery