Progressing from project-level thinking to a strategic point of view represents a significant milestone. It’s a culmination of the integration of sustainability into business and environmental cooperations that extend beyond locomotives and fuel efficiency.
Locomotive efficiency was fairly easy to focus on, and we did so aggressively with a five-year plan to reduce emissions. We reached the greater part of our goal ahead of schedule and began to assess other ways to mitigate the impact of our operations. Reforestation gave us opportunity to give back to the community in a major part of our service territory in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. We are near completion of a commitment to plant 6 million trees there. With this and other renewal efforts, such as support of a living shoreline project in Hampton Roads, Va., we are going beyond requirements of regulatory influences to favorably impact communities and ensure the sustainability of our company for future generations of railroaders.
But in the beginning, we targeted simple, measurable opportunities to glean infrastructure efficiencies and enhance the physical plant for our employees. We started with light bulbs. That moved us deeper and deeper into facilities improvements, and we modernized HVAC systems.
Then came the zenith for us to date – a comprehensive, all-inclusive approach to energy management at our century-old Juniata Locomotive Shop, the largest locomotive repair shop in North America. The innovative energy conversion processes implemented at that Pennsylvania facility will reduce carbon emissions and water usage and produce enough electricity to sustain the entire 16-building complex.
Juniata is a new model for sustainability initiatives at Norfolk Southern. In this, our eighth sustainability report, you can read about it and many other dimensions of Norfolk Southern’s commitment to economic, environmental, and social responsibility.
So, from installing a better light bulb to fashioning a holistic approach to sustainability, we’ve made our journey all about creating a new way of doing business. In our vision for a redefined way of life at Norfolk Southern, environmental corporate responsibility is embedded in our business culture.
On a personal note, I was privileged to serve as Norfolk Southern’s – and the rail industry’s – first corporate sustainability officer. Now retired, I look forward to following Norfolk Southern’s continual progress as new sustainability milestones are achieved.
Retired, Vice President Real Estate and Corporate Sustainability Officer